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USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral  Research Fellowship Program

14-42. The Effect of Changing Technology on Materials Flow in the Transportation Sector

We seek a postdoctoral fellow to investigate how technological change will likely change global material use in the transportation sector over the next 30 years. Through the Mendenhall Fellow’s research, we expect that we will identify opportunities to increase the reuse, remanufacturing, and the recycling of materials use in transportation equipment and infrastructure. New technologies in the transportation sector will put new constraints on materials we mine. We can use the information gathered by identifying these changes and their effect on transportation to minimize negative consequences such as waste generation, inefficient use of materials, and environmental costs. Transportation is one of the largest sectors, utilizing a large volume of materials. Therefore, it is also a sector with one of the largest opportunities to increase efficiencies, reduce waste, and reclaim materials.

The transportation sector is constantly undergoing technological change that is driven by a number of needs. Virtually every type of transport is attempting to increase energy efficiency, many times by utilizing alternative energy sources. Additionally, improvements in aerodynamics, speed, lightness, and strength are another focus of technological change in the sector. The new technologies change the mix of materials needed in the production of transportation equipment and infrastructure, resulting in new demands on mines to meet these needs. At the same time, some materials will have a decrease in their demand. These new input needs affect materials along the entire life-cycle. By identifying these technical changes, policies can be more effectively designed to address potential shortages, encourage efficient material use, and maximize reclamation (reuse, remanufacture, recycle) of materials.

In addition to the resources available at the USGS, the metro Washington D.C. area is home to a number of offices of transportation companies and transportation related trade associations. Utilization of these resources will be necessary in gaining industry cooperation for the project. The researcher should also reach out to other agencies and institutions in the area for collaboration and additional information gathering.

Proposed Duty Station: Reston, VA

Areas of Ph.D.: Geology, Economics, Industrial Engineering, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity maybe considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications - Research Geologist, Research Economist, Research Engineer.

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of theposition will be made by the Human Resources specialist).

Research Advisor(s): W. David Menzie, (703) 648-7732,

Human Resources Office Contact: Junell Norris, (303) 236-9557,

Go back to Summary of Opportunities

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
URL: Menzie.htm
Direct inquiries to Rama K. Kotra at
Maintained by: Mendenhall Research Fellowship Program Web Team
Last modified: 17:58:08 Tue 23 Jul 2013
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