Graduate Student Researcher Jobs

Most graduate student researcher (GSR) jobs are associated with one or more of the ITS Berkeley research centers.

Jobs are added periodically, so check back on this page or consult ITS faculty and research managers regularly.

GSRs can earn up to $22,000 per year. They may also receive a full or partial remission of tuition or other fees. To learn more about the general requirements and procedures for graduate student employment, you may download "What You Need to Know About Being a GSI, GSR, Reader, or Tutor," (40K PDF) prepared by the Graduate Division.

You can also visit the Graduate Division Web site for more extensive information about this and other aspects of graduate study at UC Berkeley.

About SafeTREC:

UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), a research center affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Studies and the School of Public Health. For more information on SafeTREC, visit

Project background:

In the past few years, driver distraction from cell phone use has become a hot issue, with many states rushing to pass laws to regulate or ban the use of electronic devices while driving. While cell phone use is known to reduce driver attention and performance, there is limited understanding of the impact that these laws have on roadway safety.
We will be studying distracted driving laws and their effectiveness at reducing traffic injury.
The aims of the study are to:
(i)        evaluate the effectiveness at reducing traffic injury of laws targeting handheld phone use, texting, and young drivers;
(ii)       evaluate the effectiveness at reducing traffic injury of different fines and enforcement levels of inattentive driving laws; and
(iii)     compare the effectiveness at reducing traffic injury of various distracted and inattentive driving laws.
We will conduct a state and local-level evaluation of change in fatal and, where possible, injury collisions before and after the implementation of laws prohibiting driver inattention or limiting electronic device use while driving. Difference-in-differences and synthetic control methods will be used to control for underlying crash trends in this natural experiment. The outcome measure for the natural experiments will be the fatal or injury crash rate, in units of crashes per vehicle miles traveled. The results of this study will inform the design of effective laws to reduce traffic injury from driver inattention.

Student responsibilities:

The GSR will work closely with SafeTREC researchers on a variety of tasks, including:
·      Conducting an updated literature review on distracted driving
·      Managing data collection and database
·      Conducting statistical and econometric analyses

Skills and qualifications:

·      Good quantitative skills

·      Knowledge of statistics and econometrics

·      Background in traffic safety
·      Ability to conduct individual study
·      Strong oral and written communication skills
·      Familiarity with Stata or SAS is an advantage

Application information:

Please send your resume or any questions about this position to Dr. Offer Grembek, SafeTREC’s Associate Director for Research (

Application Deadline: 12/13/2013

About SafeTREC:

The Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) is a University of California Berkeley research center affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Studies and the School of Public Health. It is home to approximately 15 full-time staff and researchers and 10 to 20 student researchers at any given time. SafeTREC seeks and conducts externally supported research, provides educational courses through the Department of Civil Engineering and the School of Public Health. SafeTREC’s research goal is to effectively tap UC Berkeley’s diverse community of experts in transportation engineering, public health, city and regional planning, vision, human factors, technology, and other disciplines to reduction of transportation-related injuries and fatalities in California, the US, and abroad.

For more information on SafeTREC, visit

Project background:

The inherent differences between pedestrian and motorized vehicles restrict the opportunities to apply existing vehicle safety practices to pedestrian safety. To date, the dominant road safety management approach to allocate safety resources is the hotspot approach which focuses on identifying and recommending improvements for high collision concentration locations. Another approach is the systemic approach which seeks blanket improvements that can be implemented at similar sites across the network. The systemic approach is valuable for facilities that have relatively low crash densities (e.g., rural roads) and are therefore less likely to be flagged as hotspots and be considered for safety investigations and improvements. Similarly, pedestrian crashes exhibit lower crash densities and accordingly no resources are allocated to conduct site investigation to improve pedestrian safety. In addition to that, pedestrian data is often missing essential elements (e.g., exposure) that are needed for hotspot identification methods.

To address the challenges in pedestrian safety management a systemic approach for identifying potential safety countermeasures and implementing them across groups of locations sharing the same risk characteristics has been developed. The approach was developed as a proof of concept and demonstrated successfully at the corridor level in an earlier study. Crashes along the study sites were counted for specific crash and facility type pairs. The data is assembled in a matrix which provides a snapshot of what types of crashes are occurring on what types of facilities and helps in identifying the “systemic hotpsots”. This approach also provides guidance about the possible set of countermeasures that can be used to reduce the specific type of crashes for each facility type.

Student responsibilities:

The GSR will work closely with SafeTREC researchers on a variety of task for this project, including:
·         Literature review,
·         Extract safety data from the Transportation Injury Mapping System
·         Manage data collection and database,
·         Conduct statistical analyses.

Skills and qualifications:

·         Good quantitative skills.
·         Background in traffic safety and pedestrian research
·         Ability to conduct individual study.
·         Strong oral and written communication skills. 
·         Familiarity with GIS software is an advantage

Application information:

Please send your resume or any questions about this position to Dr. Offer Grembek (see email below).

Application deadline: 12/13/2013

About TSRC:

 The Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) was formed in 2006 to combine the research forces of six campus groups at UC Berkeley: the University of California Transportation Center, the University of California Energy Institute, the Institute of Transportation Studies, the Energy and Resources Group, the Center for Global Metropolitan Studies, and the Berkeley Institute of the Environment.

Since TSRC was founded, it has been a leading center in conducting timely research on real-world solutions for a more sustainable transportation future. In addition to performing research informed by a diverse array of perspectives, TSRC also engages in education and outreach to promote its core values of sustainability and equity, to ensure that we are able to meet the transportation needs of the present without compromising future generations. 


TSRC conducts research on a wide array of transportation-related issues, addressing the needs of individuals as well as the public. Research efforts are primarily concentrated in six main areas:


1. Advanced vehicles and fuels

2. Energy and infrastructure

3. Goods movement

4. Innovative mobility

5. Mobility for special populations

6. Transportation and energy systems analysis.


Project background:

The Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) is leading a number of innovative projects that study shared-use mobility systems and truck parking. The study of shared-use vehicle systems at TSRC spans the evaluation of e-bikes linked to carsharing in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as one-way carsharing in North America. The truck parking project led by TSRC is deploying systems that measure truck parking availability on the I-5 corridor in California and disseminate that information to truck drivers. The two projects require a diversity of skills ranging from the statistical analysis of sensor and survey data to the qualitative analysis of focus groups with carsharing members and expert interviews with operator and agency officials.

Student responsibilities:

 The graduate student researcher (GSR) will work closely with TSRC researchers on a variety of tasks related to these and other projects. Key tasks will include literature reviews, focus group protocol development, identification of stakeholders, development of survey questionnaires, statistical analysis of survey and sensor data, expert interviews, and other related tasks depending on student’s strengths and interests. The GSR will be supervised by senior researchers and the project manager but is also expected to work independently. The GSR may need to manage multiple assignments at once, including the analysis of different datasets, development of presentations, as well as contributing to reports and publications. 

Skills and qualifications:

 Desired qualifications include:


Ability to work independently as well as part of a team;

Analytical background and intermediate experience with Excel;

Strong writing skills, coupled with the ability to comprehensively review previous literature in the field;

Knowledge of shared-used vehicle research; 

Knowledge of the trucking industry;

Knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies;

Ability to program in R and/or Python; 

The ability to drive legally in the United States; and

Knowledge of regulations governing research with human subjects. 

Application information:

 Send cover letter, resume and application to Madonna Camel at

About TSRC:

TSRC uses a wide range of analysis and evaluation tools, including questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, automated data collection systems, and simulation models to collect data and perform analysis and interpretation of the data. The center then develops impartial findings and recommendations for key issues of interest to policymakers to aid in decision-making. TSRC has assisted in developing and implementing major California and federal regulations and initiatives regarding sustainable transportation. These include the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the Low Emission Vehicle Program and Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, the Pavley Law, Low Carbon Fuel Standards policies, California SB 375 (anti-sprawl legislation), and the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Project background:

The proposed research will evaluate the potential benefit of design and operational approaches to improving the environmental efficiency of transit systems.  Recent investments in the transit sector to address greenhouse gas emissions have concentrated on purchasing efficient replacement vehicles and inducing mode shift from the private automobile.  There has been little focus, however, on the potential of operational improvements, such as changes in headways, route spacing, and stop spacing, to reduce transit emissions. Most models of transit system design consider user and agency cost while ignoring emissions and the potential environmental benefit of operational improvements.  We intend to examine how the operational characteristics of urban transit systems affect both user and agency costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and to use this information in designing urban transit networks that balance costs and environmental impacts.


Student responsibilities:

All aspects of the research, including literature review, mathematical formulation, algorithm development and implementation, analysis of results and writing, under supervision of advisor.


Skills and qualifications:

To be considered, the student must have been offered a GSR as part of the admissions package and be a Transportation Engineering student, with the following qualifications:

  • Good writing skills.
  • Familiarity with basic concepts in optimization.
  • Some economics background.


Application information:

Contact Professor Samer Madanat. Send a resume if available.