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High School Internships: General Program and History of Life Program

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

General Program

Interns support on-going research projects and each internship position is different. Interns are assigned a supervisor who will guide them through the summer. The supervisors are graduate students, laboratory managers, post-doctoral fellows, and professors. The interns work 15-30 hours per week with a regular schedule that is determined with the supervisor. 

General program interns work with one research group, and often on just one project. Read the blog by recent high school interns to learn about recent projects in the general program. On the application, students will indicate their interest in several fields of study (geology, environmental science, geochemistry, sustainable agriculture, geophysics, oceanography, biology, climate change, etc) depending on the positions available. 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.

What high school interns said they did in during the summer

  • 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

If you want to be outside most of the summer, the Educational Farm on campus hosts 6 interns each summer. With a brand new farm, 2015 will be an exciting year of planting and testing while weeding and learning about sustainable argiculture. If you are interested in working at the Farm, you should select agriculture.

Interns work at least 15 hours per week. Some students may want to end later in the summer, and some students may work up to 30 hours per week. The program has some flexibility. 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. Each intern sets up a regular schedule with her/his supervisor. 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. 

History of Life Program

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. 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.  History of Life Website

History of Life 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 general program instead.

For all Earth Sciences Interns

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 science 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.