VREF funding and opportunities

The overarching vision of the VREF Future Urban Transport Programme (FUT) is Sustainable Transport For Equitable Access in Arban Areas. Through the FUT Programme, VREF supports interdisciplinary research, educational and outreach programs, demonstrative examples and change processes with the aim to stimulate development of new knowledge on ideas and solutions that can contribute to equitable access and sustainable urban transport.

VREF supports research within the FUT program through thematic programs:

  • Mobility and Access in African Cities (MAC
  • Informal and Shared Mobility in Low- and Middle Income Countries (ISM)
  • Walking as a Mode of Transport (Walking)
  • Urban Freight (UF)
  • Bus Rapid Transport (BRT)

The programs are expected to maintain the highest scientific quality and to work together with local actors that can utilize their results. 

Calls for proposals

VREF funding is normally based on open Calls for proposals, which are announced at the VREF web site and sometimes also through other channels. VREF´s calls for proposals are based upon an analysis of which areas are particularly important and where research and/or educational activities can make the biggest difference.

All proposals are reviewed by the VREF Scientific Council, and sometimes also by expert evaluators assigned by VREF. 


On-going Calls:


Supported calls:

Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency

The Schipper family and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities are now accepting applications for the 2022 Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency.

Since 2018 the Volvo Research and Educational Foundation has supported the scholarship through a grant as well as linking the scholars to the VREF network of researchers. The applications are now open for 2022. Provided jointly by the Schipper Family and WRI, the Scholarship will award two extraordinary candidates to advance transformative research in efficient and sustainable transport. In addition, for the third consecutive year, an additional Scholarship will be awarded to a young researcher from the African continent.

Awardees (Granted from 2018 by VREF)

2021Susan Gichuna, Tamara Kerzhner, and Wei Wei

  • Susan Gichuna

“Weather, Climate Variability and Urban Commuter Travel Behaviour in Nairobi”.

Ms. Susan Gichuna, from Kenya. Susan is the second African scholar in the history of the Lee Schipper Scholarship. She is a researcher and currently a PhD student at the Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, University of Nairobi, Kenya. She specializes in climate change and adaptation, sustainable urban transport, travel behaviour, gender and development. Previously, Susan worked at the United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, where she supported targeted research and outreach activities for programs promoting non-motorized and public transport in cities of the developing world. Her research will analyze the effects of climate change on urban transport in Nairobi, particularly regarding the impacts of rainfall and temperature on infrastructure, transport costs, traffic and transport services accessibility and availability.

  • Tamara Kerzhner

“Is Informal Transport Flexible?”

Ms. Tamara Kerzhner, from Israel. Tamara is a PhD student at the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. She has BA and MA degrees in Geography and Urban Planning from the Hebrew University, and wrote her thesis on Palestinian women’s mobility needs in Jerusalem. Her research will investigate the impact of labour relations on the distribution and equity of access provided by informal transport networks in African cities. The goal is to collaboratively design a series of small-scale policy, regulation and funding approaches that support worker’s rights while also improving service quality and expanding the geographic coverage of networks.

  • Wei Wei

“Strategies for supporting vehicle electrification with renewable energy resources”.

Ms. Wei Wei, from China. Wei is a Ph.D. student in the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Transportation and a researcher at the Trancik Lab at the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research is guided by a fundamental understanding of travel patterns and energy-consuming behaviors to inform strategic infrastructure planning for vehicle electrification. Her research will examine demand management strategies to support mass electric vehicle adoption with increasing penetration of renewable energy resources in the power grid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drawing on cities in the United States, Indonesia, and Denmark as case studies.

2020Abisai Konstantinus, Jungwoo Chun and Fariba Siddiq

  • Dr. Abisai Konstantinus

“Evaluating Conditions for Regional Maritime Transport in Southern Africa”.

Dr. Abisai Konstantinus is the African scholar in the history of the Lee Schipper Scholarship. He is a maritime expert based in Swakopmund, Namibia with experience as a seafarer, marine pilot, lecturer and researcher in the African maritime domain. He holds several degrees in Maritime Studies (CPUT), MPhil: Shipping Law (UCT), PQE: ICS, MSc: Shipping Management and Logistics (WMU) and a PhD Transport Engineering (UCT). His research will focus on the development of regional maritime transport in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. His study will delve on the perceptions and experience of shipowners and operators to assist in identifying strategies to overcome barriers in regional maritime transport and favor its strategic role in the region as viable alternative to the more carbon-intensive road transport in the region.

See here an interview av Dr. Abisai Konstantinus about Studying maritime Freight in Africa

  • Mr. Jungwoo Chun

Institutional Innovation, Change Agents and the Electrification of Personal Transportation

Mr. Jungwoo Chun, a Korean national, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachussets (USA). His research looks into the electrification of personal and commercial transportation, with a political economy focus on the role that key institutions and institutional stakeholders play in promoting the policy reforms that lead to vehicle electrification based on case studies of institutional dynamics in Denmark, Norway and Iceland. His objective is to contribute to the knowledge base for institutional and policy transformations required to promote electric vehicle adoption globally which is accelerating in the years to come.

  • Ms. Fariba Siddiq

Cross-Cultural Gender Differences in Travel: Ride-Hailing’s Emerging Role”.

Ms. Fariba Siddiq, a Bangladeshi national, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Planning and a researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (USA). Her research will analyze gender differences in ride-hailing access and use experiences through a cross-cultural study in two global cities, Dhaka and Los Angeles. Her research will explore how and to what extent are these burgeoning ride-hailing services affecting safe and independent movement of women, before and after COVID-19. Her research will also provide insight into ride-hailing services’ use by different segments of the population and whether the use of this new mode is bringing in any transformational change in terms of access to opportunities in developed and developing countries, both for women and men.

2019Valentina Montoya and Teddy Forscher

Valentina Montoya is currently an SJD candidate at Harvard Law School. Her work broadly focuses on the commuting characteristics of female domestic workers in Latin American cities, and how local government law shapes these commutes. As part of a research agenda that aims to connect the legal structures of authority with the way cities are planned and the impact of these designs on the real-life experiences of domestic workers, she is using a mixed-method approach to capture the gap between the way planners think and how domestic workers experience the city as profoundly disempowered commuters. Her research aims at promoting public policy and legal changes to respond to domestic workers’ needs, and by doing so, improving the commuting conditions of similarly situated users in cities in the global south. Before her doctoral studies, Valentina received a master’s degree in Law, also from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in legal theory, and a dual bachelor’s degree in Law and Political Science from Universidad de los Andes, in Bogotá, Colombia.

Teddy Forscher is currently a fourth year PhD student in the Transportation Engineering program at the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS). His work broadly focuses on the impacts that changes in personal consumption patterns—particularly towards more e-commerce transactions—have on transportation networks. As part of a research agenda that aims to enhance municipal and regional adaptability in the presence of new mobility services, he is developing demand models that capture preferences for a wide variety of online goods (e.g., parcels, groceries, hot food, etc.). Additionally, he aims to pair this work with insights gathered regarding the volume and composition of changing last-mile delivery fleets to produce one of the first comprehensive views of the near-term future of consumption and transportation. Prior to his doctoral studies, Teddy received a dual Master’s degree in Transportation Engineering and City + Regional Planning, also from U.C. Berkeley.

See also the recording of the presentations at the “Transforming Transportation 2020”

2018 Junia Compostella and Jaime Soza Parra

2017 Joanna Moody and Rafael Pereira

See an article related to the award 2017 released by the CityFix here