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Entomology Internships with USDA Scientists

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL), and the Smithsonian have worked together since 1881. SEL scientists in-residence at NMNH conduct systematic and taxonomic research on major agricultural pests and potential invasive species to the U.S.  They curate large portions of the NMNH Insect Collection and serve as authorities on identification of insects intercepted at US ports of entry.

INTERNSHIP PROJECT LIST:

  • Flies of the Neotropics: Interns will participate in surveys of the faunas of various Neotropical countries by sorting trap samples, identifying specimens, and entering information about specimens into a collections database. Interns will learn how to identify flies, among the most diverse groups of organisms in the world, and gain insight into systematics research and the management of a large entomological collection.  Scheduling is flexible, but typically 10-20 hours per week minimum is preferred.  Timeframe: Rolling
  • Generic Revision of Raindrop Treehoppers: Interns will learn basic morphological structures, variable among Raindrop treehoppers, and participate in filling in data matrix of features and species. Interns will also compare species to discover new variation.  Time commitment should be at least 20 hours per week for at least 8 weeks.  Timeframe: Rolling
  • Hymenopteran Diversity of Madagascar: Interns will learn how to identify and recognize superfamilies and certain families of Hymenoptera, as well as proper curatorial techniques for processing, mounting, and labeling specimens. The internship may also include montage/scanning electron imaging of select specimens.  Scheduling is flexible, but 10 weeks, 20-40 hours per week is preferred.  For details contact: Michael Gates  202-633-4554 or Matthew Buffington 202-633-4554/4552.  Timeframe: Summer
  • Insects on American Chestnut and Their Natural Enemies: Interns will participate in research to uncover and compare historical and contemporary herbivore-natural enemy associations on American chestnut.  The goal of the project is to understand how ecological extinction of American chestnut, due to chestnut blight, might have affected insect communities in eastern deciduous forest.  Interns will receive training to sample insects in the field, sort samples of field-collected insects, mount and label specimens, and/or identify specimens at levels ranging from subfamily to species.  Scheduling is flexible, but a 10 week, 24 hours per week time commitment is preferred.  For details contact: Robert KulaTimeframe: Rolling
  • Insect Specimen Curation: Interns will participate in the curation and collections management of a broad spectrum of insect specimens from locations worldwide.  Interns will learn the basics of curation within the entomology collections. Interested applicants may indicate a preferred order of insects in their essay, but this is not required.  Timeframe: Rolling
  • Insect Specimen Imaging: Interns will learn imaging and illustration techniques, including light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and associated post-production image enhancement techniques using Adobe Creative Suite.  Interested applicants may indicate a preferred order of insects in their essay, but this is not required.  Timeframe: Rolling
  • Insect Specimen Preparation and Identification: Interns will participate in preparing recently collected insect specimens including sorting field collected samples, mounting specimens on insect pins or paper points, label making, organizing specimens into species-level categories, identifying species into family groups, and incorporating identified specimens into the main research collection.  Interested applicants may indicate a preferred order of insects in their essay, but this is not required.  Timeframe: Rolling
  • Parasitoid Wasp Curation and Collection Management: Interns will participate in curation and management of the Braconidae and Ichneumonidae collections at the NMNH, adding specimens to the collection to expand holdings, updating labels to account for changes in biological classification, reorganizing holdings to increase specimen accessibility, and improving preservation by transferring specimens to archival containers. Interns will receive training on how to sample insects in the field; sort samples of field-collected insects; mount and label specimens; label vials, trays, drawers, and cabinets; search databases for current scientific names; search the Internet for detailed geographic data; and/or identify specimens at levels ranging from subfamily to species.  Scheduling is flexible, but a 10 week, 24 hours per week time commitment is preferred.  For details contact: Robert KulaTimeframe: Rolling
  • Parasitic Wasp Diversity in North American Forests: Interns will participate in research focused on characterizing wasp diversity in mid-Atlantic forests including discovery of new species, spatiotemporal distributions, and plant-host-wasp associations, as well as assess patterns of dispersion.  Interns will receive training on how to sample insects in the field, sort samples of field-collected insects, mount and label specimens, and/or identify specimens at levels ranging from subfamily to species.  Scheduling is flexible, but a 10 week, 24 hours per week time commitment is preferred. For details contact: Robert KulaTimeframe: Rolling
  • Parasitic Wasp Diversity in North American Grasslands: Interns will participate in research to characterize wasp diversity in grasslands established in the mid-Atlantic region including discovery of new species and spatiotemporal distributions, as well as assessing the ability of parasitic wasps to recolonize grasslands restored from agricultural land.  The project also explores how land management affects wasp diversity and the extent to which grasslands harbor natural enemies of pest insects.  Interns will receive training on how to sample insects in the field, sort samples of field-collected insects, mount and label specimens, and/or identify specimens at levels ranging from subfamily to species.  Scheduling is flexible, but a 10 week, 24 hours per week time commitment is preferred.  For details contact: Robert KulaTimeframe: Rolling
  • Pyraloid Moth Collection Curation: Interns participate in collections management activities associated with the Lepidoptera Collection, specifically on the national collection of pyraloid moths.  The project includes sorting pyraloid moth species by state, if from the United States, or country, if from other parts of the world.  Interns will learn general insect curation, including proper handling and organization of pinned moth specimens and interpretation of specimen collection labels, both printed and older written labels.  Interns will also learn about geography and gain an understanding about the morphological diversity of insects.  Interns must be careful and gentle, as moth wings are quite fragile.  Scheduling is flexible, but a minimum of 10-25 hours per week time commitment is preferred.  Timeframe: Rolling
  • Singapore Mangrove Insect Biodiversity:  Interns will participate in sorting malaise trap sample collections from Singapore mangroves, critically important sea life nurseries and physical buffers against flooding and saline intrusion whose acreage continues to be impacted by human activity.  Data on diversity of parasitic wasps using DNA barcodes and multi-focus imaging will be shared with collaborators at the National University of Singapore and deposited on GenBank. Interns will learn how to identify Hymenoptera, molecular extraction/PCR/sequencing, and specimen imaging using Macropod and/or Entovision imaging stations.  Applicants must have attention to detail, some microscopy experience, good eye-hand coordination, patience, and a desire for learning.  Scheduling is flexible, but 10 weeks, 20-40 hours per week is preferred.  For details contact: Michael Gates 202-633-4554.  Timeframe: Summer and Fall

 

HOW TO APPLY: SOLAA

CONTACT:  USDAIntern@si.edu