The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s (SERC) Internship Program offers undergraduate and beginning graduate students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the fields of environmental research and public engagement. This program enables students to work on independent research projects under the direction of a SERC mentor.
Since 2001 the SERC internship program has been a National Science Foundation REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) site. With this funding, along with generous donations from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee and university partnerships, we are able to provide internship opportunities to qualified students looking to further their knowledge in the natural sciences.
Interns projects span the range of research conducted at SERC, including environmental chemistry, marine and esturaine ecology, molecular ecology, and terrestrial ecology. Projects are also offered in public engagement, with opportunities in environmental education, citizen science, and science writing. Although students will become familiar with much of the research of SERC in general, individuals will devote most of their time to an independent research project. Students will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge in a selected field of study and to learn a variety of research techniques through firsthand experience. At the conclusion of the internship, student participants will be expected to present the findings of their independent projects in a formal seminar to the SERC community.
As an additional educational benefit, SERC maintains an ongoing seminar program that is designed to bring in noted outside speakers on a variety of topics in the environmental sciences. We also offer experiential field trips to the Smithsonian museums and galleries on the National Mall.
The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center will consider applications from currently enrolled undergraduate and Master’s students, or students who have recently graduated from undergraduate or Master’s programs. Applicants must be in a position to commit fully to the completion of a project. U.S. citizenship is not a requirement to participate in this program.
The Smithsonian is committed to ensuring that all intern applicants are treated equitably in an environment that is free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, gender stereotyping, pregnancy, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability, parental or marital status, or genetic information.
Interns are selected based on academic credentials, relevant training or experience, letters of recommendation, and how well the student’s expressed goals align with the internship program.
The specific dates and duration of the internship appointment are arranged between the supervisor and the student. However, internship appointments are generally full time (40 hours per week), 10 to 16 weeks in length, and coincide with standard academic semesters and summer terms.
SERC offers an REU Site Program in Global Change Biology. You can learn more about the REU Site Program by clicking here. REU funding is only available in the summer for current undergraduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
There are also grant funded interns who are expected to work on smaller parts of larger scale projects. Grant funded interns can be current undergraduates, recent grads, or Master’s students and funding may be available year round.
All students are encouraged to apply. Typically we have a number of funding sources supporting a variety of students at all stages of their careers. All interns are required to complete a research project and present their findings at the end of their internship.