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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Exploratory Advanced Research Program

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Focus Areas

Focus areas provide direction on the research objectives of the EAR Program. A focus area is a defined topic area where breakthroughs are most needed, or where there is high potential for long-term, higher-risk research to lead to dramatic improvements.


FHWA has and continues to work with partners in the research community to develop and modify focus areas for the EAR Program.

Current Areas of Interest

  • Connected Highway and Vehicle System Concepts —This focus area emphasizes the longer term needs to reach critical FHWA safety and mobility goals by developing the theory for and assessing the feasibility of systems that leapfrog current technological approaches for linking infrastructure with future vehicle and personal mobility technology. 

  • Breakthrough Concepts in Material Science —This focus area leverages new approaches in materials science to produce innovative new highway materials with characteristics that enable enhanced functionality (including multi functionality), constructability, sustainability, cost effectiveness or operating characteristics of highway infrastructure and system monitoring sensors to enhance highway safety, reliability, and resilience.

  • Human Behavior and Travel Choices —This focus area leverages research concepts from the social sciences, including psychology and economics, along with more traditional research for improving safety, reducing congestion, and improving the livability of the Nation's communities.

  • Technology for Assessing Performance — This focus area seeks novel approaches and breakthrough technology that will revolutionize the use of performance management in the highway sector.

  • New Technology and Advanced Policies for Energy and Resource Conservation —This focus area cuts across infrastructure, operations, and societal and complex natural systems that support innovative methods for reducing highway industry costs and move toward sustainability


Exploratory Advanced Research Program


NRC Postdoctoral Fellows Help EAR Program Solve Transportation Issues

The Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) conducts research across a wide range of topics and disciplines. To supplement the expertise of the permanent staff, it is important to bring in researchers with the appropriate backgrounds to investigate specific problems at short-term basis. Through the Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program, FHWA utilizes the Resident Associates (or Postdoctoral Fellows) program of the National Research Council (NRC) for this purpose. The NRC provides a process for selecting candidates on a competitive merit basis and subsequently for administration of the Resident Fellows during their tenures at FHWA. [More]

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101