2016 Project Menu
Internships at SERC are available for research in the categories listed below. Many projects are offered only during specific seasons while others may be offered year round. You may select from the specific projects listed within these areas and note the season availability of each project, or you may see a listing of internships available by season.
Global ChangeEffects of Solar UV Radiation on Aquatic Ecosystems Season:
Spring ,Summer ,Fall Project Supervisor: Dr. Patrick Neale
The Photobiology and Solar Radiation laboratory at SERC focuses on solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation and its effects on aquatic photochemistry, phytoplankton activity, carbon cycling, microbial growth, and ecosystem productivity. Concern over the thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer has prompted efforts to both monitor the possible associated increase in solar ultraviolet radiation (specifically the short wavelength UV-B component) and to understand the effects such an increase may have on organisms in natural ecosystems. Both monitoring and research activities are ongoing at SERC. One of our projects studies the response to UV of marine microalgae (phytoplankton) found in shallow regions of the Chesapeake Bay and cultures of Antarctic phytoplankton. The intern involved in this project will learn methods for culture and sampling of phytoplankton, measurement of solar UV, and estimates of photosynthetic rates as a function of the exposure to UV radiation. In another project, we focus on the sources and cycling of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), a major reservoir of organic carbon in the ocean and one of the key water constituents determining the underwater UV-visible light field. Exposure to UV-visible sunlight alters CDOM composition and optical properties, and affects its degradability in coastal margin ecosystems. Among our key objectives in this project are determining the quality, dynamics and fate of dissolved organic compounds exported from freshwater and brackish tidal marshes of the Chesapeake Bay, and improve understanding of the effects of marsh tidal exchanges on photochemical and biogeochemical processes in the bay. The intern involved in this project will learn about the impact of marshes and tidal exchanges on carbon cycling and estuarine water optics, and the processes affecting CDOM utilization, transformation and fate in the Chesapeake Bay. Interns will be actively engaged in our research activities, develop their own independent projects, and receive interdisciplinary training in the fields of biogeochemistry, photobiology, estuarine ecology and bio-optics. They will get involved in all phases of the project, including study design, sample collection, laboratory measurements, mathematical modeling and data analysis, and will present a summary of their research results at the end of their project.
Desirable: Interest and knowledge in aquatic science, plant biology, carbon cycling, water optics and physics.Back to top of Project MenuMicrobial Ecology of Mercury Methylation Season:
Spring ,Summer Project Supervisor: Dr. Cynthia Gilmour
, Microbial Ecologist
What we study: We study the cycling of mercury in the environment, with a focus on the production of methylmercury by bacteria in sediments and wetland soils. The main source of mercury (Hg) contamination to aquatic ecosystems is the atmosphere, with a number of industries, particularly power plants, contributing to this global problem. Mercury contamination impacts the health and reproduction of predators in wetland and aquatic food webs, and bioaccumulation of methylmercury is the leading cause of fish consumption advisories in the United States. We study Hg cycling in many ecosystems, including estuaries, freshwater lakes and watersheds, and wetlands. We also study the mechanisms of mercury methylation by bacteria, and the distribution of mercury-methylating bacteria in nature.
Potential intern projects: Interns can participate in projects that range from field studies to bench chemistry and microbiology. Many intern projects have both a field component and lab component that includes analytical chemistry and/or microbiology. Possible research areas include:
· Field and laboratory research to assess the relative importance of microbial community structure and ecosystem biogeochemistry in methylmercury production.
· Field and laboratory research to develop activated carbon as an in situ remediation tool to reduce bioavailable Hg and methylmercury in contaminated wetland ecosystems.
· Participation in a long-term research program to track Hg cycling in watersheds and wetlands on the SERC property.
· Projects on the molecular microbial ecology of Hg methylation may also be available.
What we are looking for in interns: We are looking for students with majors in chemistry, microbiology, molecular biology/biochemistry, or environmental engineering and an interest in how these fields can be applied to solve environmental problems. Previous lab and/or field experience is desirable, as is familiarity with data analysis in Excel, and a basic understanding of statistics. Laboratory analytical skills are particularly valuable. For field projects, students should be willing and able to do physical labor and to work under adverse conditions. A driver’s license is required, and US citizenship is preferred.Back to top of Project MenuWetland Biogeochemistry Season:
Spring ,Summer ,Fall Project Supervisor: Dr. Patrick Megonigal
What We StudyBack to top of Project MenuLandscape EcologyLandscape Analysis and Ecological Modeling of Watershed Processes Season:
We study element cycling in order to understand the responses of ecosystems to forces such as elevated carbon dioxide, sea level rise, flooding and climate change. We take a holistic approach to these issues by considering the responses of both microorganisms and plants, the two life forms that control the Earth's capture and release of energy in organic compounds. Current focus areas include the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on microbial respiration and microbial community ecology. Most of our projects concern wetland ecosystems. Interns will learn the basics of plant and microbial ecology, with an emphasis on that amazing array of life in wetland soils. They will also be exposed to the methods and instruments used by ecosystem ecologists, such as gas chromatography, infrared gas analysis, ion chromatography, and stable isotopes.
Greenhouse Gases Project
Wetlands, forests, grasslands, and other ecosystems exercise control over Earth's climate by acting as sinks and sources of greenhouse gases. Plants act as sinks by naturally removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while microbes act as sources by returning carbon dioxide and methane. The way we use the land and the water affects the balance of greenhouse gas sources and sinks. A Greenhouse Gas Intern may address applied research questions such as: Does elevated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase the amount of CH4 emitted from wetland? Alternatively, the intern can address basic questions such as: What determines whether soil carbon decomposition will emit carbon dioxide or methane, a much more powerful greenhouse gas?
Wetlands in a Future Climate Project
Global changes such as rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, rising nitrogen in estuaries and sea level rise affecting wetland ecosystems now, and will affect them more dramatically in the coming decades. Elevated carbon dioxide increases plant growth and can actually help some coastal wetlands cope with sea level rise. However, it also increases emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for 20% of global warming. Interns working on Wetlands in a Future Climate can ask questions about the way wetland ecosystems will function in a future world where several factors are changing at the same time. Past interns have done projects on questions such as: Do elevated carbon dioxide and elevated nitrogen in combination increase plant growth and microbial decomposition?, and Will elevated carbon dioxide help wetland soils survive sea level rise by rising upward in elevation?
Desirable: Interest and knowledge in one or more of the following subject areas: climate change issues, soil ecology, nutrient cycling, environmental chemistry, microbial ecology, wetland ecology, hydrology, and plant physiology.
Spring ,Summer ,Fall Project Supervisor: Dr. Donald Weller
, Quantitative Ecologist
We use the quantitative tools of spatial analysis, statistics, and mathematical modeling to explore ecological questions, like the factors controlling nutrient discharges from watersheds, the role of wetlands in moderating nutrient transport, and the relationships between watershed geography and stream condition.
We are developing computer simulation models of nutrient cycling and transport in terrestrial systems, and then analyzing the models to test current understanding and suggest directions for further research. One effort examines nutrient transport through a mosaic of land use patches. We want to know how nutrient retention in individual patches interacts with the spatial arrangement of patch types to give the nutrient loss from the entire landscape. We use simple models of hypothetical landscapes to deduce general principles, and more complex models of real landscapes mapped with computer-based geographic information system (GIS). We are also modeling nutrient cycling in riparian forests. We combine hydrological and nitrogen cycling submodels to help quantify the ecological mechanisms that retain nutrients in riparian forests, and to examine the effects of the retained nutrients on forest vegetation and nutrient cycling. Other projects are using GIS and statistical analyses to relate watershed geography to biological responses in streams and estuaries. Interns will assist in ongoing model development, programming, analysis, and verification, and complete an independent project in one of these areas. Work may also include library research, GIS analysis, or fieldwork to develop data for running or testing the models.
We also sometimes offer opportunities in GIS analysis. Interns will help to acquire, organize, and analyze spatial information describing landscapes and landscape processes. The data may come from paper maps, aerial photographs, satellite remote sensing, and data that are already in a digital form. Image analysis software and geographic information system (GIS) software are used to enter information into digital databases and then to analyze and display the information. Interns will complete an independent project combining development, analysis, and visual presentation of a spatial data set.
Desirable: Basic knowledge of ecology, geography, statistics, and computer systems. Courses or experience with GIS software (particularly ArcGIS), remote sensing software (particularly ERDAS Imagine), statistical packages (especially SAS), and/or mathematical or computer modeling.Back to top of Project MenuTracing the Sources and Fates of Nutrients in the Environment Season:
Spring ,Summer ,Fall Project Supervisor: Dr. Thomas Jordan
, Chemical Ecologist
Excessive inputs of the plant nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus threaten freshwater and saltwater ecosystems worldwide. Over-enrichment with nutrients has led to increases in turbidity, demise of submerged vegetation, depletion of oxygen, and the formation of extensive dead zones in estuarine and coastal waters.
In recent decades, human activities have roughly doubled the input of biologically available nitrogen to the biosphere. This has had enormous impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The fate of anthropogenic (human-derived) nitrogen on land or in estuaries is poorly understood. By comparing watersheds with differing land use composition we are investigating the sources of nitrogen discharges in watersheds. We are also assessing the potential of riparian buffers and wetlands to block nitrogen transport to downstream ecosystems. Much of our research focuses on denitrification, a microbial process that converts nitrate to gaseous forms of nitrogen that are released to the atmosphere.
Our newest research project is investigating the effects of a stream restoration practice on sediment and nutrient transport in surface water. The restoration approach is called a Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC) and is used to mitigate impacts of channel erosion. The eroded channel is filled with a mixture of sand and wood chips which are stabilized with rock weirs creating a series of pools along the stream. RSCs are thought to remove sediment and nutrients from surface water, but research is needed to improve predictions of removal rates and to understand how removal efficiencies relate to stream hydrology. Our research measures flows of surface water, suspended sediments, and nutrients entering and leaving the RSC. We also examine infiltration of surface water and nutrients and fluxes and processes in groundwater.
Desirable: Completed junior or senior year of undergraduate coursework.
Back to top of Project MenuEcology of Coastal EcosystemsEstuarine Fish and Invertebrate Ecology Season:
Summer Project Supervisor: Dr. Anson Hines and Dr. Matt Ogburn
, Marine Ecologists
The goal of this project is to analyze factors regulating the abundance, distribution, and species composition of fish and benthic invertebrates in Chesapeake Bay, especially using the Rhode River subestuary as a model system for long-term tracking of seasonal and annual change and conducting experiments on mechanisms regulating populations and communities. Key topics include migratory behaviors of native and non-native species, evaluation of restored oyster reefs, fish and invertebrate community composition, spatial distributions, predator-prey interactions and environmental drivers including physical/chemical factors of the estuary and climate change. Fieldwork involves acoustic telemetry, mark-recapture experiments, use of sonar for community assessments, benthic core sampling, trawling of fish and crabs, conducting nearshore seining and trapping surveys, and experiments on predation and recruitment. Laboratory work involves analysis of acoustic data, sorting and processing benthic and fish samples, and data management. Much of the recent work focuses on blue crab ecology and fisheries, habitat use and movement ecology of cownose rays, river herring and non-native species (blue catfish and common carp), and assessment of fish and invertebrate communities in natural habitats and restored oyster reefs. Interns will have the opportunity to participate in SI MOVE, a new initiative focusing on movement ecology, Smithsonian's Conservation Commons, and the Smithsonian Marine Global Earth Observatory studying biodiversity, ecosystem function and global change of nearshore ecosystems (http://marinegeo.si.edu/). The intern will conduct an independent project on some aspect of these research projects in support of on-going research priorities and grant-funded work. The intern will be expected to summarize his/her accomplishments in a seminar and short written report at the end of the project period. Most projects occur primarily during summer although one internship may be available beginning in early spring (depending on funding) to study spawning runs of anadromous river herring.Back to top of Project MenuMarine Invasions Ecology Season:
Spring ,Summer ,Fall Project Supervisor: Dr. Gregory Ruiz
, Estuarine Ecologist
Desirable: Previous experience in invertebrate zoology and/or parasitology
Our lab measures patterns of marine and estuarine non-indigenous species transfer, invasion, and impact. We also test specific and general mechanisms that underlie these patterns and assess the efficacy of management strategies to limit the spread and impact of non-indigenous species. Although our research is focused on marine invertebrate species, we are also interested in the unique opportunities that invasions offer to understand fundamental processes in population, community, and evolutionary ecology. A large component of our research on transfer examines the volume, content, dynamics, and management of ballast water, but we also look into other means of introduction such as the live bait trade and hull fouling. We have several projects that focus on removal of introduced species and basic research on population and community ecology. We also have two research projects that aren’t focused on non-indigenous species: our Nearshore survey and our ocean acidification project. More information on some of our recent projects can be found on the website.
Interns in our lab will participate in all aspects of field and laboratory work and will assist with other projects in the lab as needed. Interns are strongly encouraged to conduct an independent research project and present their findings to the SERC community in an oral presentation and written report. To learn more about the experience of some of our interns see the August 2011 feature story
. Desirable: Previous experience with invertebrate zoology.
The following projects are taking on interns this summer:
: This is a long term research study on population and community dynamics of shallow water habitats of Chesapeake Bay. Field studies are conducted every summer and include using seine nets, dip nets and tethering techniques to measure abundances of fish, shrimp and blue crab and predator-prey interactions in the Rhode River. Desirable: Previous experience with fishes and/or crustaceans, willingness to spend time in the field and the laboratory, an interest in behavior and population dynamics.
Molecular Parasite Ecology projects
: Mostly focusing on molecular ecology of protistan parasites that impact marine invertebrates, such as oysters, though research has recently expanded to include parasites of seagrasses and some metazoan parasites, such as the parasitic copepod, Mytilicola
sp. For more information about these projects and to see related publications, please visit the website of Dr. Katrina Lohan. Desirable: Interest in parasite ecology and molecular methods is essential and previous experience in these areas is preferred. Must be willing to spend potentially long hours in the field and laboratory. Previous experience with molecular methods (e.g., DNA extraction, PCR, various sequencing methods) is highly preferred.
Fouling Community Surveys
: The lab has been monitoring fouling communities on the coast of California for more than 15 years.
The current project goals are to measure status and trends of biological invasions in coastal marine ecosystems of California using statistically robust sampling and DNA-assisted taxonomic analysis. The intern will assist lab staff in a survey of fouling communities at multiple sites in California We anticipate that the intern will spend 50% of their time working on an independent project that is part of the larger fouling community study, and 50% assisting with all aspects of the surveys throughout California. Functional Effects of Community Changes
This project focuses on measuring effects of diversity, especially of non-native species, on ecosystem functioning in fouling communities in San Francisco Bay. Using a 15-year dataset describing community variation in San Francisco Bay as a backdrop, the intern will develop field and lab experiments and models to estimate the variation in functional impacts of these communities over time, including clearance rates and resource use. We anticipate that the intern will spend 50% of their time working on the independent project, and 50% assisting with a variety of other field and lab activities. The intern will be expected to summarize his or her accomplishments in a short seminar and a written report at the end of the project period. This project is based at the Invasions Lab’s San Francisco Bay Area facility in Tiburon, California.
Environmental Control of Community Variation:
This project focuses on understanding how environmental changes control spatial patterns in estuarine communities in San Francisco Bay. Some of our recent work has examined the ways in which temperature and salinity variation govern the distribution and abundance of key fouling invertebrate species in the northern, brackish region of the Bay, creating a striking pattern of zonation. The intern will develop field and lab experiments and models testing the mechanisms responsible for creating these patterns, and will work with taxonomic experts in the lab to identify and track several of the species involved throughout their life cycles. We anticipate that the intern will spend 50% of their time working on the independent project, and 50% assisting with a variety of other field and lab activities. The intern will be expected to summarize his or her accomplishments in a short seminar and a written report at the end of the project period. This project is based at the Invasions Lab’s San Francisco Bay Area facility in Tiburon, California.
Ocean Acidification Project (OAP)
: This is an interdisciplinary project that examines the role and effects of rising CO2
levels on nearshore ecosystems across different latitudes and on different ecological communities. OAP utilizes both carbon chemistry and experimental ecology methodologies to study ocean acidification in these habitats, with interns participating in all aspects of the research, from field experiments to executing lab analyses and analyzing data. Desirable: Interest and knowledge in both biology and chemistry or oceanography.
Genetics, taxonomy and biogeography of ship fouling organisms: This project will examine the identity and distribution of biofouling organisms that are carried around the world’s oceans on the submerged surfaces of ships. Ship biofouling is a potent transfer mechanism of marine biota and this study will focus on DNA barcoding of biofouling samples and investigations of those organisms’ movements. Experience in basic genetic techniques (DNA extraction, PCR, Sanger sequencing) is required. We anticipate that the intern will spend 80% of their time working on DNA barcoding for this and other projects, and 20% working on a variety of other field and lab activities. The intern will be expected to summarize his or her accomplishments in a short seminar and a written report at the end of the project period. This project is based at the Invasions Lab at SERC in Edgewater, Maryland.Back to top of Project MenuPopulation and Community EcologyOyster Restoration in Chesapeake Bay Season:
Summer Project Supervisor: Dr. Denise Breitburg
, Estuarine Ecologist
The Marine Ecology Laboratory conducts field and laboratory research that examines effects of both human activities and natural variability in climate and water quality on fish, oysters and gelatinous zooplankton (jellyfish and ctenophores). Most of our work focuses on Chesapeake Bay, but is broadly applicable to estuaries and other coastal systems worldwide. We examine a range of responses including growth, behavior, disease dynamics, and changes in food webs, and are especially interested in how responses of individual animals scale up to changes seen at higher levels of ecological organization. We are also particularly interested in research that considers not only fundamental ecological principles, but also their applications, including water quality standards, fisheries regulations, oyster reef restoration, and predicting the effects of climate change.
Our main project this year will focus on how oysters respond to stressors such as hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen) and acidification (low pH) over the long term. We will be raising oysters in the lab and measuring a wide range of metrics to record how they respond to manipulations of oxygen and pH, and then out planting them at sites around Chesapeake Bay to test how they respond to natural conditions.
Interns will be part of the team involved in the daily operation of our laboratory facility, which includes taking measurements using handheld oxygen and pH sensors, maintaining oyster feeding regimens, performing routine maintenance of system components, and troubleshooting problems with air, water, and electrical systems. Following our laboratory exposures, interns will take the lead on a project measuring oyster growth and fitness, and then help deploy oysters at field sites throughout the Bay.
Interns should be interested in spending time in both the lab and field and be willing to get muddy and wet. Familiarity with basic ecological principles is helpful. Interns will be required to present an oral summary of their research project at the end of the summer.Back to top of Project MenuPlant Ecology Season:
Summer Project Supervisor: Dr. Dennis Whigham
, Plant Ecologist, Dr. Melissa McCormick, Ecologist
The Plant Ecology program focuses broadly on interactions between plants and their environment. We seek interns who are interested in the ecology of terrestrial or wetland plant species. We are specifically interested in students who would work on plant-fungal interactions, especially orchid mycorrhizae, fungal community ecology, the ecology of woodland herbs, the ecology of wetland macrophytes, and the ecology of invasive species. All projects focus on field studies but generally include related laboratory work. Learning and applying laboratory techniques is an especially important aspect of research on orchid-fungal interactions. Students will be expected to base their research project around ongoing research efforts in the laboratory but they should also be prepared to develop, execute and report on a sub-project of their own design.
Invasive Wetland Plants
Common reed (Phragmites australis) has native and non-native lineages in North America. A non-native lineage has been identified as a major invasive species in wetlands. Along the Atlantic Coast, the non-native lineage is common and is spreading in brackish wetlands. Current SERC research focuses on hypotheses about the invasion (establishment and spread) of common reed in Chesapeake Bay brackish wetlands. The project involves field-based sampling and subsequent genetic analyses of the samples. Field-based sampling focuses on evaluating the role of sexual vs. asexual reproduction in Phragmites spread, factors driving seed viability, seed germination, and seedling establishment, and the potential for Phragmites management and successful marsh restoration.
Desirable: Willingness to spend time both in the field and in the lab. Interest in wetland plant community ecology and invasive species biology and ecology. Must be able to handle working long hours in wetlands in hot weather.
Back to top of Project MenuTerrestrial Ecology Season:
Ecology and Conservation of the Threatened Orchid Isotria medeoloides
The orchid Isotria medeoloides (small whorled pogonia) is possibly the rarest orchid in the US. Its center of distribution is in New England, but populations extend along the East Coast into northern Georgia. We are working with the US National Park Service and two military facilities to develop techniques that can be potentially be used to manage and reintroduce this federally threatened orchid in existing and suitable habitats. The intern associated with this project might conduct research associated with the distribution and abundance of mycorrhizal fungi needed by the orchid (using quantitative real-time PCR), genetic diversity of Mid-Atlantic and Southern populations of I. medeoloides (using microsatellites), orchid dependence on their mycorrhizal fungi (carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses), or other related topics.
Summer Project Supervisor: Dr. John Parker
Research in the Terrestrial Ecology lab focuses on the consequences of global change for biotic interactions. How will biodiversity loss alter the structure, functioning, and persistence of ecological communities? What factors drive invasions by non-native speices? What are the ecological and evolutionary consequences of altered selection regimes? And, finally can an understanding of these complex, ecological interactions be used to inform conservation and management of natural ecosystems? We try to answer these questions by integrating field experiments with behavioral biology, natural products chemistry, phylogenetics, quantitative genetics, and synthetic statistical analyses.Back to top of Project MenuEnvironmental EducationCitizen Science Season:
Recent research themes include: (1) impacts of herbivores on plant diversity and invasions, (2) chemical ecology of plant-herbivore interactions, and (3) effects of biodiversity on populations, communities, and ecosystems. Much of our current projects are conducted in terrestrial communities in the temperate zone, but we have recently begun exploring the impacts of biotic interactions in tropical mangrove forests. Undergraduate interns in my lab are responsible for daily project activities and an oral presentation of results at the end of the internship. Hard-working and self-motivated interns will be given the opportunity to produce a publishable manuscript describing their project.
Desirable skillsets: Basic knowledge of ecology and evolution, plant identification, behavioral biology, chemical ecology, invasive species biology, and the ability to work in both field and laboratory conditions.
Summer ,Fall Project Supervisor: Dr. Alison Cawood
, Citizen Science Coordinator
Citizen science is the active participation of volunteers in scientific research. It can take the form of collecting data, working alongside researchers in the lab and the field, and communicating project results. At SERC, citizen scientists engage in projects ranging from archaeology to invasive species research. Citizen science project coordination involves a wide range of activities, including volunteer recruitment, training, and management, communicating the methods and results of SERC citizen science projects to volunteers and to members of the public orally and in writing, working with scientists to identify roles for volunteers in their research, and tracking the progress of ongoing citizen science projects.
Internship: The citizen science intern will have the opportunity to work on a wide range of citizen science projects, involving a variety of labs and topics, over the course of the internship. Responsibilities will include working with adult and student volunteers in the field, participating in volunteer training activities, creating content for the citizen science project webpages, and working with partner organizations to implement citizen science activities.
Desired Qualifications: Interest in citizen science, science outreach, science communication, or science education. Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills. Strong scientific background (college-level coursework in natural sciences), although the applicant does not have to be a science major. Willingness and ability to work in field conditions in hot weather. Teaching and/or volunteer management experience is a plus.Back to top of Project MenuEnvironmental Education Department Season:
Spring ,Summer ,Fall Project Supervisor: Mark Haddon
, Director of Education
The Education Department is challenged with interpreting and disseminating Smithsonian environmental research findings to a wide range of audiences including K-12 students and teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, and the general public. Interns play an integral role in helping staff develop and implement activities, programs, guide books, workbooks, web pages, and interactive video conferences. Applicants interested in education internships should feel comfortable talking to small and large groups of people. Interns are given opportunities to learn content material pertaining to ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and basin and are trained in teaching methods. Desire to be an informal environmental science instructor using canoes and boats, and/or trails and docks is a must.
Interns will be instructed on procedures within the Education Deptartment and be expected to complete safety training. Interns will be assessed on their ability to work as a team member in the Department, demonstrate program leadership, and show responsibility in student supervision. For further information at SERC's education programs go to http://www.serc.si.edu/education/index.aspx.
Desirable: Applicants majoring in environmental education or environmental science.Back to top of Project MenuScience Writing and Communications Season:
Summer Project Supervisor: Kristen Minogue
, Science Writer
The science writing internship is for anyone who loves learning about science and sharing it with nonscientists. Communications at SERC covers a wide range of activities: media outreach, Web updates, newsletters, social media and blogging. In addition to pitching stories to mainstream media outlets, the communications desk also keeps in touch with the larger Smithsonian communications offices on the Mall. It manages the look and content of the SERC homepage (www.serc.si.edu) and the Shorelines blog, which hosts stories on the research and discoveries of SERC scientists. It also maintains social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter (@SmithsonianEnv), Tumblr and Instagram. Its main product, the Shorelines newsletter, highlights the most important stories from SERC scientists and educators every spring, summer and fall.
Internship: The science writing intern will gain experience with all facets of SERC communication. Main priorities include going out in the field with research scientists and interns, taking photos and writing blog pieces about their projects. Other responsibilities include working with the SERC communications officer to manage SERC’s social media accounts, produce the summer newsletter and update the SERC website. The intern will also gain exposure to the wider world of Smithsonian communications through monthly meetings on the Mall.
Desired Qualifications: Strong scientific background (natural sciences coursework; not required to be a science major) and skill writing about science for a nonscientific audience. One to three published or unpublished writing samples explaining science for general readers are essential to include with the essay part of the application. Ability to use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint) required; familiarity with HTML, CSS, Adobe Photoshop and Drupal a plus.Back to top of Project Menu