Summer Internships at The Earth Institute

Summer Internships at The Earth Institute

Have you ever wanted to monitor plant growth in a remote field location in Alaska? How about collecting and analyzing data to help map the risk of future emerging infectious disease outbreaks? These are just a few of the internship opportunities that The Earth Institute at Columbia University is offering both undergraduate and graduate students this summer.

“The summer internship program provides students with invaluable work experience in centers throughout The Earth Institute,” says Louise Rosen, Director of The Earth Institute’s Office of Academic and Research Programs. Through these internship programs, students are given the opportunity to work within various Earth Institute centers and departments, such as The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), The Center for the Study of Science and Religion (CSSR), and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES), just to name a few. While the students gain work experience, the centers also benefit from the interns’ enthusiasm and energy.

This summer, The Earth Institute has offered about twenty paid internships to both graduate and undergraduate students, who will work full-time for 35 hours each week.

Can experience and environment influence individual development? That’s a question being asked by Emily Jordan, a psychology and anthropology major at Columbia College who is working with Assistant Professor Frances Champagne, in the psychology department, and Professor Robert Pollack, in the biology department “investigating how early social enrichment or impoverishment can change the social, maternal and sexual behaviors of mice. This research has important applications to medicine and public health, as it focuses on how experience and environment can influence the course of individual development and gene expression.” 

Internships at The Earth Institute vary in tasks. “After working for the Office of Academic Research and Programs (OARP) at the Earth Institute, I came to appreciate the resources available for students who are interested in sustainable development issues,” School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) graduate Gold Truong says of the 2 semesters she interned in the OARP. “The breadth of the Earth Institute's programs is comprehensive, spanning policy, science and cultural studies. The magnitude of work at OARP provided me further exposure to both academic research and student activities in the realm of sustainable development, indicating how Columbia is at the forefront of sustainable development issues.”

School of General Studies (GS) Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology student Heather Greaves (GS 2010) is spending her summer in a remote field Camp at Toolik Lake Alaska monitoring leaf area development and plant growth, measuring plant respiration and analyzing data. While trying to both predict and understand the relationships between climate change and the structure and function of Arctic plants and ecosystems, she is attempting to address three questions: How much does light inhibit leaf respiration under Arctic field conditions; How might predicted scenarios of climate change influence the inhibition of respiration; and How are ecosystems effected by light inhibition of respiration?

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) chose intern Greer Raggio, who is a  Masters of Public Health student studying Environmental Health Sciences at Mailman School of Public Health. Her main tasks are to collect and analyze data that will be used to help identify the top 10 locations on Earth most at risk from future emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

Through these widely varying internships at EI centers such as Urban Design Lab (UDL), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), and Global Roundtable on Climate Change (GROCC), just to name a few, the Earth Institute aims to actively engage Columbia University students in ongoing environmental issues and research.  Columbia has developed an educational environment geared toward prolific and relevant student opportunities to participate in more than just classroom learning.