Undergraduate Research Assistant Positions with Environmental Frontiers Campus

Opportunity Description

The Environmental Frontiers Initiative invites applications for EFCampus Research Assistants beginning Summer Quarter 2023. EFCampus is designed to bring together a variety of campus stakeholders – students, faculty, and staff – to collaboratively explore issues of campus sustainability. It is a unique research opportunity for students interested in environmental issues and broader climate change goals. Research assistant positions will be full-time roles for 10 weeks during the Summer. The role is paid $15/hour. RA positions may have the opportunity to extend into the 2023-2024 academic year, which will be determined upon completion of summer work. This will be a hybrid internship, with an expectation of interns working 2-3 days per week in the office and the option to work remotely the remaining days.


About Environmental Frontiers and EFCampus

The Environmental Frontiers Initiative focuses on issues at the intersection of environmental sustainability and urban development, enabling research and curricular opportunities that provide UChicago students with a scientific and practical understanding of sustainable urban development. Environmental Frontiers spans the physical sciences and social sciences, complementing existing and emerging course curriculum in Environmental and Urban Studies, Environmental Sciences, and other programs, and serving as a platform for the University of Chicago to advance sustainability through collaboration between faculty, students, and staff. Environmental Frontiers is a partnership between the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, the Program on the Global Environment (PGE), the Center for Robust Decision-making on Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP), and the Offices of Facilities Services and Campus Planning + Sustainability at the University of Chicago.
EFCampus is the campus-based component of the Environmental Frontiers initiative, enabling students to use campus data, operational systems, and community behaviors as a case study for understanding a path to a more sustainable future, on campus and beyond. EFCampus provides undergraduate students opportunities to advance research and applied projects that explore campus sustainability, with an eye toward transferable knowledge to inform strategies in neighborhoods and whole urban areas. These data-driven projects will analyze campus data, engaging students in using rigorous quantitative methods to understand campus energy use and opportunities to increase efficiency. Working closely with faculty and staff from Facilities Services, students will think critically about what the data suggests are the most effective interventions to create energy-savings and reduce unnecessary consumption.

Primary Responsibilities

EFCampus student research assistant positions are full-time for 10-weeks of Summer Quarter 2023, with potential to extend into the 2023-2024 academic year on a part-time basis. Undergraduate RA’s will work in teams on structured projects identified by the Office of Facilities Services, faculty, and staff, with mentorship provided by a graduate student RA, as well as additional guidance from faculty. Student work will align with the goals outlined in the University’s broader Sustainability Plan, including 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the University operations by 2030. Read more about previous undergraduate work from Summer 2020. 

Student teams will meet regularly with the EF Graduate Student mentor, who will ensure that communication across units (campus Facilities Services, Mansueto Institute, and faculty leads) keeps all partners abreast of student work and any issues arising with campus data collection and dissemination. Undergraduate RA tasks will include: quantitative analysis; best practices research; gathering stakeholder input; identifying optimal sustainability interventions; documenting project progress; and presenting key findings to EFCampus faculty and staff.


Minimum Qualifications and/or Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must be a current undergraduate student in the University of Chicago in Summer 2023 (students who graduate in June 2023 are not eligible). Preference will be given to candidates who have demonstrated ability in/knowledge of some or all of the following:

  • Environmental issues/challenges, including energy systems
  • Data visualization and management
  • Community outreach and surveying
  • Coding, programming, and/or statistics experience a plus
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Professionalism, reliability, and ability to work as part of at team


Applications will open for the Summer 2024 cohort in early 2024.