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Stanford Earth Young Investigators: Options

There are four options, and they have different expectations and learning opportunities. All programs provide high school students the opportunity to conduct scientific research in Earth and environmental sciences.  

The Agriculture Option

If you want to be outside most of the summer and have an interest in food and agriculture, the campus farm may be for you. At the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm, six high school interns support farmers and researchers. Students work on the farm planting, weeding and harvesting alongside our farmers, as well as participating in on-farm research.  The farm provides an excellent learning environment to think about sustainable small-scale and urban agriculture. Read about what the 2015 interns learned.

Interns work in the morning, five days per week, Monday through Friday at 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. 

The Biodiversity Option

All interns will be learning and working together on questions about body size evolution with the Paleobiology research group. Paleobiologists study the relationship between environmental change and biological evolution over geological timescales through field studies, geochemical measurements and modeling, and statistical analysis of large datasets. Interns work in pairs to design and test a scientific hypothesis related to the summer’s research theme. Past themes have included body size evolution in ostracods and cell size and environmental tolerances of prokaryotes. The typical day will begin at 9 am with an hour of group instruction and learning activities followed by a couple of hours of data collection (measuring the body size of fossils from books). After lunch, interns will meet as a whole group or in small groups with supervisors to discuss data interpretation and progress for an hour. The rest of the afternoon until 4 pm will be collecting data and working on research projects. History of Life Website

Biodiversity interns work full time, Monday through Friday for 8 weeks. This program is not flexible. Students who are involved in other activities during the summer should consider the environment or geology options instead.

The Environment Option

Environment interns work with one research group, and often on just one project. The projects range from soil chemistry to ocean chemistry to ocean life to terrestrial bacteria to arsenic cycling to GIS analysis, depending on the positions available. Read the blog by recent high school interns to learn about recent projects - look under the general program. Students are assigned to their research group. Interns learn that scientific research takes a long time, with many steps and some of the work is only on a computer while other research projects are only in the laboratory. Most interns do not have the opportunity to do their own research project since they are learning and helping their supervisors.

The interns work 15-30 hours per week with a regular schedule that is determined with the supervisor. It is expected that some interns will be involved in other opportunities during the summer as well as have family vacations. Interns work during the week, Monday through Friday, between 8 am and 6 pm, and rarely on the weekends. An example schedule is Monday 10-4, Wednesday 10-4 and Thursday 1-4. Interns should plan to work on Wednesdays to participate in the weekly activities with all interns.

The Geology Option

Geology interns work with one research group, and often on just one project. The project range from earthquake history using cosmogenic nuclides to seismology to preparing rocks for geochronology measurements to digitizing maps, depending on the positions available. Read the blog by recent high school interns to learn about recent projects - look under the general program. Mathematics, physics, and computer programing may be essential for some positions. Students will be assigned to their research group. Interns learn that scientific research takes a long time, with many steps and some of the work is only on a computer while other research projects are only in the laboratory. Most interns do not have the opportunity to do their own research project since they are learning and helping their supervisors.

The interns work 15-30 hours per week with a regular schedule that is determined with the supervisor. It is expected that some interns will be involved in other opportunities during the summer as well as have family vacations. Interns work during the week, Monday through Friday, between 8 am and 6 pm, and rarely on the weekends. An example schedule is Monday 10-4, Wednesday 10-4 and Thursday 1-4. Interns most likely will work on Wednesdays to participate in the weekly activities with all interns.

What high school interns said they did in during the summer in all options

  • Prepared equipment for field work
  • Ultrasonic extraction of coal samples using organic solvents, roto-evaporation, funnel separation, column chromatograph and compound quantification
  • Learned ARC-GIS 9.0 software by doing an online training
  • Learned about sustainable agriculture, raising chickens, building compost piles, and conducting sediment tests.
  • Soil preparation for Carbon-Nitrogen analysis
  • DNA extractions from environmental samples and cultivated strains, PCR screening of genes from various bacteria, RFLP (fingerprint) analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA genes, DNA quantification and visualization
  • Entered data and graphed data
  • Discussed background material after reading articles
  • Read more in the blogs written by interns

For all Stanford Earth Young Investigators

Once a week we have talks, lab tours, and field trips as a group. This is a time that interns get to learn about the broad field of Earth and environmental sciences and get to know one another. These fun and interesting activities take place on Wednesdays.

Return to the main High School Internship page

Please check Frequently Asked Questions for more information

If students have further questions, high school students should contact Jennifer Saltzman via email or call her at (650)725-2410. Parents are encouraged to let students ask their own questions.