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Conservation Ecology Center - Internship in Nutritional Research


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. Dr. 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.


Nutrition Lab interns typically work both individually and as a team. There are always multiple projects being undertaken, and which ones an intern works on 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 summer include:

  1. longitudinal changes in milk composition in mammals and their relation to infant growth
  2. evaluation of diets for selected species within the zoo’s collection
  3. evaluation of seasonal changes in pasture grass composition

Interns will largely perform laboratory assays on biological samples (e.g. milk, insects, plants). Interns will be responsible for recording all data into a lab book, entering the data into spreadsheets, and preparing summaries of the results. The work week is Monday to Friday, 8am – 4pm; however, the occasional weekend project may arise, in which case other days off will be taken in exchange. Interns are encouraged to take advantage of scheduled zoo activities, such as Pathology Rounds and Lectures/Seminars as part of their internship time.

The intern will:

  • be an upper level undergraduate or graduate student in a relevant field of study – animal science, anthropology, biology, zoology, nutrition.
  • be proficient at Microsoft Office package
  • 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 DC 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. Transportation to Front Royal can be provided.

Duration and Compensation:

Any 12 week time period from May – September, 2012. This internship is for 12 weeks, 40 hours per week and comes with a stipend of $400/week.

How to Apply

Interested candidates should email Mike Power the following documents (as either .pdf or .doc files)

  • A cover letter
  • A short essay (no more than 750 words) describing your interests, goals, experience, and training
  • Curriculum vitae (no more than four pages)
  • The names and contact information (affiliation, address, telephone number, and email) for three personal references

Please include “Conservation Programs Fellow Application” in the subject line.

Note that applications will be considered on a rolling basis so you are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

Last Date to Apply: March 17, 2013