Careers at Virginia Tech

Senior Research Associate

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Work type: Research Faculty
Senior management: Vice President for Research
Department: Virginia Tech Transportation Instit
Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
Categories: Research / Scientific, Transportation

Job Description

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) conducts research to save lives, time, and money and protect the environment. As one of six premier research institutes created by Virginia Tech to answer national challenges, VTTI is continually advancing transportation through innovation and has affected public policy on national and international levels. This position provides a hands-on opportunity to work with cutting edge vehicle and roadway lighting technologies through systematic deployment and testing.

Watch this video to learn more about what it’s like to work at VTTI! (

VTTI seeks qualified, ambitious senior researchers with a PhD in Engineering/Psychology with Lighting or Visibility specialization and Human Factors experience (candidates with a lesser degree and significant experience in lieu of PhD may be considered). The ideal candidate will have an aptitude for solving complex problems through applications of advanced research and development techniques, and conduct research and publish results in an ethical manner. Performance at this level requires significant experience in a professional position or equivalent graduate level education. Candidate have shown capabilities in leading research projects and working collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams to improve transportation safety through cutting edge research.

Duties and responsibilities:
• Independently plans, schedules, conducts, or coordinates detailed tasks as part of major transportation related Illumination, Visibility and Human Factors engineering projects.
• Performs work that involves engineering practice but may include a variety of complex features such as conflicting design requirements, unsuitability of conventional technology, and difficult coordination requirements.
• Leads and contributes to research conceptualization, proposal development, and resource acquisition.
• Prepares and/or oversees literature reviews.
• Interprets findings, prepares reports, and presents/publishes research,
• Interfacing directly with sponsors to understand requirements and deliver technical presentations.
• Maintains existing sponsor relationships, develops new relationships with potential sponsors, and solicits research funding.
• Work will primarily consider lighting, visibility and intersection related projects for transportation systems.
• Work requires a broad knowledge of precedents in the specialty area and a good knowledge of and practices of lighting application, visibility assessment and visual requirements.

Assignments include:
• Acting as Principal Investigator on funded research projects.
• Managing sponsor outreach and developing funding channels
• Write, review, and critique proposals, research plans, and final reports.
• Organize, attend, and participate in project meetings.
• Conceptualize and write work plans, protocols, and procedures
• Manage project activities and execution of research plan.
• Analyze data including preparing SAS, Matlab, ArcGIS and SQL analyses.
• Present research findings
• Collaborates on research studies as needed

Directions given and received:
• Independently performs most assignments with instructions as to the general results expected.
• Receives technical guidance on unusual or complex problems and supervisory approval on proposed plans for projects.

Required Qualifications

• PhD in Engineering/Psychology with Lighting or Visibility specialization (candidates with an advanced degree and significant experience in lieu of PhD degree may be considered).
• Strong communications and organizational skills
• Strong experience in lighting and visibility related research
• Strong experience in the analysis of intersections and interchanges
• Strong statistical methods including experience in the analysis of large-scale data sets from multiple sources using a variety of tools including but not limited to SAS, MatLab, and ArcGIS
• Human Factors Experience
• Willingness to work in a fast-paced research environment
• Previous Project management experience including coordinate technicians, researchers, undergraduate and graduate level students.

Preferred Qualifications

• Demonstrated significant relevant experience in the field


Appointment Type


Salary Information

Starting rate of $90,000, commensurate with experience

Review Date


Additional Information


The successful candidate will be required to have a criminal conviction check.


About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. A comprehensive land-grant institution that enhances the quality of life in Virginia and throughout the world, Virginia Tech is an inclusive community dedicated to knowledge, discovery, and creativity. The university offers more than 280 majors to a diverse enrollment of more than 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in eight undergraduate colleges, a school of medicine, a veterinary medicine college, Graduate School, and Honors College. The university has a significant presence across Virginia, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia; the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke; sites in Newport News and Richmond; and numerous Extension offices and research centers. A leading global research institution, Virginia Tech conducts more than $500 million in research annually.

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or military status, or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants, or on any other basis protected by law.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Natalie Jett at during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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