Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Conservation Ecology Center Internship in Nutritional Research

We are not accepting applications for this internship at this time. Please check back at a later date.

The Nutrition Laboratory at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park focuses on three areas of basic and applied research: clinical nutrition, milk composition, and nutritional ecology. We are one of the few zoos in the world with a comprehensive on-site nutrition lab. Michael L. Power conducts and oversees research in all areas; but is especially interested in issues of nutrition related to the costs and consequences of female mammal reproduction. 
Interns will be trained to become proficient in a number of laboratory analytical techniques. Interns will be trained how to collect, organize, and perform preliminary analysis of nutritional research data. Interns will attend three to four lectures on research topics in biology. Interns will read three to four journal articles relevant to the research studies in which they are involved. Interns are encouraged to take advantage of scheduled zoo activities, such as Pathology Rounds and NZP Lectures/Seminars as part of their internship time. Interns will prepare a final report on their activities, listing techniques learned, assays completed, brief summary of data produced, and on how this internship has influenced their thinking regarding their future career and educational goals.
Note: this is a late summer to fall internship; graduating seniors not immediately continuing on to post graduate education are encouraged to apply

Duties and Responsibilities

Nutrition Lab interns typically perform tasks both individually and as a team. There are always multiple projects being undertaken, and which ones an intern assists with is determined by Dr. Power with regard for the intern’s interests and skill set. An intern will always work on more than one project. Projects range from basic science questions to practical application of lab work in assessing foods to be fed the zoo animals. The current projects planned for this fall include:

  • Longitudinal changes in milk composition in mammals and their relation to infant growth
  • Evaluation of diets for selected species within the Zoo’s collection
  • Assaying plant materials for nutrient composition to support projects investigating the nutritional ecology of wild animals in situ; specifically, plant foods fed on by lactating chimpanzees in the Gombe, Tanzania; this will be the primary project for this internship

Interns will largely perform laboratory assays on biological samples (e.g. milk, insects, plant materials). Interns will be responsible for recording all data into a lab book, entering the data into spreadsheets, and preparing summaries of the results. The interns are expected to be present Monday to Friday, 8a.m to 4 p.m.


  • Proficiency at Microsoft Office programs
  • Have demonstrated written and oral communication skills (based on required cover letter and essay, as well as phone or in-person interview)
  • Be able to lift at least 50 pounds and work under typical outdoors conditions around Washington, D.C. in the summer (hot and humid)
  • Be able to pass all of the SI-based background checks needed for volunteer staff
  • Be able to be present on a regular schedule at the Rock Creek campus, with occasional travel to Front Royal, VA.


$400 per week


Rock Creek, Washington, D.C. Occasional travel to Front Royal, VA (Transportation to Front Royal can be provided).


The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area.


The National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution do not provide free parking to interns. There is limited parking at SCBI in Front Royal, Virginia.

Term of Appointment

Any 12-week time period from August to December 2014.

Application Deadlines

Applications will be accepted until the internship is filled.


To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html” S elect "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here" complete the information to create an account.  You will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in.

  • Type of appointment: “Internship”
  • Unit of interest: “National Zoological Park”
  • Program: “National Zoological Park Internship Program”
  • Project: “Rock Creek—Nutrition Lab”

Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit” and when your references have been received by the deadline as noted above). Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic information
  • Professional resume or CV including three professional references
  • A one-page essay (or maximum 750 word) of your interest in pursuing this position. The statement should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for wanting this internship, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your statement is very important during application evaluations
  • Schedule of availability


Email Michael Power for questions about this internship.