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 education. This program enables students to work on specific projects under the direction of SERC’s professional staff and is tailored to provide the maximum educational benefit to each participant.
Since 2001 the SERC internship program has been designated a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) site by the National Science Foundation. 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 undergraduate students looking to further their knowledge in the sciences.
Projects include terrestrial, atmospheric and estuarine environmental research within the disciplines of ecology, biology, chemistry, microbiology, botany, zoology, mathematics and physics. Projects are also offered in environmental education and environmental information management. Although students will become familiar with all the research being conducted by a particular staff member and with much of the research of SERC in general, individuals will devote most of their time to a project and content area of particular interest to them. 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. During the program’s spring and summer seasons, field trips to research facilities and Smithsonian museums conducting similar programs are also coordinated.
Eligibility and Appointment
The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center will consider applications from currently enrolled undergraduate and beginning graduate students, or students who have recently graduated from an undergraduate or Masters program. 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.
Selection is based upon the student’s academic credentials, extent of relevant training or experience, letters of recommendation, and the congruence of the student’s expressed goals with those of the internship program. The Smithsonian does not discriminate on grounds of race, creed, sex, age, marital status, handicap or national origin of any applicant.
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), 12 to 16 weeks in length, and coincide with the usual academic semesters and summer terms.
The Smithsonian awards no academic credit for studies conducted at the Institution. However, the Office of Professional Training at SERC is eager to assist in establishing mechanisms for universities to award credit upon satisfactory completion of projects. Representatives of colleges and universities wishing to develop formal agreements of this nature with the Smithsonian may contact the Office of Fellowships & Internships. In lieu of this, students are encouraged to work out arrangements directly with their advisors and departments.
Selected candidates will receive a stipend of $550.00 per week. Limited on-site dormitory space may be available for $105.00 per week. SERC does not supply board, although cooking facilities and utensils are available. The two campus dorms can accommodate up to 24 residents (Schmidt has 6 single rooms and Green Village has 8 double rooms and two single rooms). SERC is located in a semi-rural area seven miles south of the nearest public transportation lines, therefore it is strongly recommended to bring a vehicle for personal transportation, if possible.