Adam Tavel - Fellowship Office

Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA


It Needs No Ghost To Tell Us: 25 Years of Internships at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center has had 449 interns since 1975, and yet there has never been a comprehensive study to document these interns and their research.  My project utilized computer technology to transfer archaic intern data from document to database, thus preserving it for future generations in a more modern way.  Once this lengthy process was complete, I conducted both a demographic and statistical analysis of past interns.  Participation in the internship program grew drastically during the late 1990ís and early 21st century thanks to increased funding, such as the Morgan State and REU grants.  For the past 25 years, the number of non-local interns enrolled in the program averaged between 60% and 70%.  While 86% of all interns were United States residents, the remaining 14% of interns have come from 26 foreign nations.  68% of all interns were female, and the male minority has continued to decrease over time.  In the early 1990ís, SERC took an active stance towards increasing diversity in the internship program, and has had phenomenal success.  Whereas ethnic minorities only compromised 6% of the interns before 1990, they grew to 26% between 1990 and 2001.  In the past 25 years, students from 193 various collegiate institutions interned at SERC, 42% of which were upperclassmen and 47% were college graduates.  Since SERC does not offer academic credit, only 29% of past interns initiated the credit process with their university.  The majority of students, 56%, interned during the summer since that is when the most funding is available.  Many interns pursued their masters or doctoral degree after their tenure at SERC.  Students have not only gone on to achieve professional success in the realm of environmental science, but in many other occupational fields as well.  By knowing where we have been, we can make better decisions for tomorrow, and I hope my research will contribute to the growth and development of the intern program at SERC.

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