Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Research Internship Program

The Research Internship Program of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SMBC) offers internships in each of its major program areas:

Current postings

Academic Credit

The Smithsonian awards no academic credit for studies conducted at the Institution. However, the Office of Fellowships is eager to assist in establishing mechanisms for universities to award credit upon satisfactory completion of projects. Representatives of colleges and universities wishing to develop formal agreements of this nature with the Smithsonian may contact the Office of Fellowships or the National Zoo. In lieu of this, students are encouraged to work out arrangements directly with their advisors and departments.

Research Areas

Conservation Biology

Under the umbrella of the Department of Conservation Biology, internships are available in a variety of individual subject areas including: behavior, ecology and GIS, genetics, and nutrition.

Interns may assist with field ecology projects on wild animal populations through vegetation sampling and monitoring, animal capture and marking, and behavioral observations. They may become involved in projects studying the ecology of neotropical migrant birds and white-tailed deer, or they may take a global approach by conducting habitat analyses of world-wide ecosystems using remote sensing and GIS technologies.

In addition to field-based ecological studies, interns may study the subtle complexities of animals interacting within their environment utilizing cutting-edge genetics or nutrition laboratories. Interns may work on such diverse projects as identifying the nutritional needs of wild populations of endangered species like the North American desert tortoise, or mapping the genetic phylogeny of Papua New Guinea’s pitohui (poison-feathered birds).

Reproductive Sciences

Internships in reproductive sciences include research in specific areas such as gamete biology and endocrinology. Interns assist CRC staff in ongoing reproductive studies of endangered species, and receive training in research techniques and sample collection.

Areas of study include the characterization of reproductive patterns through fecal hormone analysis, pregnancy detection, impact of stress on reproduction, synchronicity of estrous cycles, and assisted reproductive technologies (in vitro oocyte maturation, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and embryo transfer).

The work of research interns in this laboratory has helped characterize the reproductive cycle of Asian elephants and clouded leopards, and has paved the way for continuing studies in egg development in the giant panda and scimitar-horned oryx.

Science Education and Training

Internships in Science Education and Training are available in several locations: at the Education Office in Front Royal, Virginia and at the Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability office on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Education and training programs interpret the research occurring at the Zoo and build bridges between Smithsonian scientists and the community, as well as professionals in the conservation community worldwide. Programs cover a diverse array opportunities for a diverse audience, including international conservation and wildlife professionals and K-12 students and teachers in science and math.

Interns in these programs work with scientists to understand the background of resident species and ongoing research, in order to assist in the design of educational programs based on current projects. Seasonally, interns may lead school outreach programs, facilitate interactive exhibits during special events, assist with professional training programs and workshops, and aid in exhibit design and interpretation. Participants may also be involved in evaluating programs, producing marketing materials, field-testing new programs, and participating in training activities.

Current postings