Field Museum Women in Science Internships

Photo by Mikayla Delson

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Generous support provided by The Women's Board of The Field Museum.
Field Museum Women in Science (FMWIS) and Women's Board of The Field Museum are proud to offer the Women in Science Internships

The internships are hosted in many departments throughout the Museum and aim to give individuals the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in the sciences. The FMWIS Internship Program is hosting five high school and five undergraduate paid interns for 6 weeks in summer 2017. Applicants are welcome to apply to more than one project. 

We aim to build a foundation and set the standard across the museum for diversity within the sciences through student internships. Interns will engage in collections-based research and practice communicating science to a broader community.

Program Dates: Monday, June 26th through Monday, August 7th, 2017.

Please be aware that this internship is full-time, 5 days per week, 8:30am to 4:30pm (unless otherwise arranged with the supervisor). Applicants must be a Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana resident Information about the 2017 individual internships will be posted mid-February. New projects are offered each summer. 

Applications are due Monday, March 13th.   Application Instructions:
  1. Visit https://fieldmuseum.fluidreview.com to access the application platform.
  2. Sign up for an account, and view all programs.
  3. Fill out the application, selecting the internship(s) you would like to apply to and answer all applicable questions.
  4. One letter of recommendation from a non-family member is required as part of the application process.  They will submit this letter of recommendation via the application platform.
  5. All applications including letters of recommendation must be received by Monday, March 13th, 2017.
 

2017 Projects

The Cultural Significance of Urban Community Gardens in Chicago

The interns will join a team of students researching the cultural significance of urban gardens in Chicago.  This summer’s project builds on last summer, when two Women in Science interns, along with other interns conducted original research on gardens.  This summer, the interns will deepen the investigation by interviewing more gardeners in two new sites and also collecting secondary data from City wide sources.  The objective of the research is to understand how Chicago’s refugee and immigrant communities are using plants and drawing on their own cultural beliefs and ecological knowledge to contribute to their own well-being.

Intern Responsibilities:

  • Conduct interviews and participant observation as part of a research team doing fieldwork in Chicago 
  • Provide visual documentation of the gardens and gardeners
  • Collect data for creating a series of maps of garden locations and types
  • Archive and manage field notes and related data

Qualifications:

  • Talented and motivated individuals interested in the sciences who are undergraduates at the time of application; those who identify as female are highly encouraged to apply
  • Applicants must be connected with a Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana address (whether it is your permanent residence, or that of a person you know who you would live with during your internship)
  • Applicants must be 16 years old by June 26, 2017
  • Anthropology or social science training (for undergraduates) preferred
  • Self-starter and able to work on own 
  • Some familiarity with Chicago neighborhoods
  • GIS mapping skills (preferred)

 

Recuration of the Water Scavenger Beetle Collection

Building upon our already stellar water beetle databasing effort from past interns, this year’s interns will update and recurate our water scavenger beetle collection (Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae). The water scavenger beetles can tell us a great deal about changing water quality, but information on the Field Museum’s water scavenger beetle collection is locked away on handwritten labels. This collection contains many historically important specimens and types, but the collection has not been updated in a long time to reflect our current knowledge of the group. 

Intern Responsibilities:

  • Inventory the species
  • Research the historical names of species
  • Learn about the science of taxonomy
  • Update names and enter them into the database
  • Recurate the collection by organization specimens and adding new labels to drawers and trays, making the collection accessible and organized to visiting scientists

Qualifications:

  • Talented and motivated individuals interested in the sciences who are undergraduates at the time of application; those who identify as female are highly encouraged to apply
  • Applicants must be connected with a Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana address (whether it is your permanent residence, or that of a person you know who you would live with during your internship)
  • Applicants must be 16 years old by June 26, 2017
  • Good organizational skills and attention to details
  • Databasing experience
  • Fine manual dexterity
  • Good command of MS Excel and Word
  • Ability to read cryptic handwriting
  • Good knowledge of local geography and landforms preferred
  • Keen interest in scientific communication a plus!

Curating the Thomas V. Testa Mazon Creek Fossil Collection

Mazon Creek fossils are exceptionally well-preserved remains of Carboniferous (~307 million years old) animals and plants that lived along a subtropical swampy coastline in what is now northeastern Illinois: Will, Grundy, Kankakee, LaSalle, and Livingston counties. Thomas V. Testa is a private fossil collector who began collecting in 1974 and continued for over 40 years through the “golden age” of Mazon Creek collecting. The Mazon Creek fauna and flora is one of the world's most important soft-bodied fossil discoveries. There are over 512 fossil animal species from 14 phyla described from this fauna and over 130 biological species of plants. Many Mazon Creek fossils are unique and found nowhere else in the world. The Field Museum's collection of Mazon Creek fossils is the definitive resource for researchers studying the Mazon Creek, and is the most accessed collection in Fossil Invertebrates.

Thomas V. Testa is a private fossil collector who began collecting in 1974 and continued for over 40 years through the “golden age” of Mazon Creek collecting. It is the rare fossil that has preserved antennae, mouthparts, eyes, delicate appendages, internal organs, and fine ornamentation - all of which may be necessary to describe and classify a species.  Thomas Testa understood this and spent decades collecting hundreds of thousands of concretions, saving only his best 6,483 fossil discoveries. It would be impossible to duplicate this type of collection today. 

Intern Responsibilities:

  • Catalog 5,000 Mazon Creek fossils from the Thoms V. Testa Collection
  • Number specimens, add these numbers to an existing spreadsheet, then upload to EMu database and create labels for specimens
  • Photograph selected specimens and add these to EMu database
  • Help create an educational/outreach website on the Mazon Creek fossils using these specimens

Qualifications:

  • Talented and motivated individuals interested in the sciences who are undergraduates at the time of application; those who identify as female are highly encouraged to apply
  • Applicants must be connected with a Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana address (whether it is your permanent residence, or that of a person you know who you would live with during your internship)
  • Applicants must be 16 years old by June 26, 2017
  • Experience using a database
  • Excel experience is a plus
  • Photography experience would be helpful but not required

 

Tongue Twisters from the Triassic to Today: Studying the Evolution of the  Modern Mammalian Tongue

Interns will engage hands-on with a study focused on the evolutionary history of the mammalian tongue. This research is part of a larger research program shared between researchers at the Field Museum and the University of Chicago. There are a number of fossils from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic that help us understand the evolutionary history of mammals, but to date the use of these fossils to study the evolution of the mammalian tongue has been limited. Interns will have an opportunity to work with graduate students, faculty, and curators at FMNH to collect morphological data from synapsid fossils from the Paleozoic and mammal fossils from the Mesozoic. Students will also collect comparative data from modern mammals and reptiles from FMNH collection holdings. In addition, this project will work in conjunction with researchers at the University of Chicago, where students will be trained in the latest 3-Dimensional reconstruction methods, soft-tissue animal dissections, and engage in the development of a novel methodological approach to study the size and shape of the mammalian tongue. The end result will be a multi-disciplinary study of the evolution of the mammalian tongue, that should result in a holistic understanding of modern methods in evolutionary biology for the students and, in addition, a full-length peer-reviewed publication co-authored by the interns and project supervisor(s).  

 

Intern Responsibilities:

  • Collect and manage data using calipers, photographs, and digital reconstructions of CT scanned specimens
  • Learn to digitally process specimens
  • Responsible for the supervised dissection and photographing of specimens for comparative purposes

Qualifications:

  • Talented and motivated individuals interested in the sciences who are undergraduates at the time of application; those who identify as female are highly encouraged to apply
  • Applicants must be connected with a Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana address (whether it is your permanent residence, or that of a person you know who you would live with during your internship)
  • Applicants must be 16 years old by June 26, 2017
  • A strong desire to learn
  • Comfort with physical dissection of dead animals

 

Management of Makovicky Dinosaur Collections

One of the challenges for collections management is organizing an active and growing collection.  Many new specimens are being prepared, and then studied, and are now available to be processed and integrated into the main body of the collection.  Each year newly collected specimens are added to the growing backlog.  Processing of the collections (cataloguing, numbering, labeling, packaging, organizing and integrating) often lags behind collection, particularly in vertebrate paleontology where the long process of preparation (taking the rock or “matrix” off the bone) can add substantially to the delay.  Pete Makovicky has been collecting fossil vertebrate specimens since 2001, and his collection is in need of processing.

Intern Responsibilities:

  • Use field notes and existing catalogue records to assemble all the Makovicky specimens and do careful inventory
  • Catalogue, number, and store all specimens
  • Make archival housings and organize into drawers in cabinets and on shelves, make acid-free labeling for all drawers and shelves
  • In the Museum’s new Science Hub, explain how important management of collections is to the science that is done at The Field Museum by bringing out dinosaur specimens to demonstrate the various activities required to process these specimens

Qualifications:

  • Talented and motivated individuals interested in the sciences who are undergraduates at the time of application; those who identify as female are highly encouraged to apply
  • Applicants must be connected with a Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana address (whether it is your permanent residence, or that of a person you know who you would live with during your internship)
  • Applicants must be 16 years old by June 26, 2017
  • Must have excellent manual dexterity
  • Desire to be part of a team
  • Accepts direction easily

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