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Wintersession Internships for Harvard Students

October 12, 2022
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4 Harvard students stand on top of a Harvard Forest research tower in winter

Read a highlight about the work of our January 2022 interns.

Paid winter internship opportunities for 5-7 Harvard students (graduate and undergraduate) will bring a group of interns to the Forest in January 2023. Room, board, and transportation will be provided for interns interested in living on-site at Harvard Forest, but a remote/virtual internship option is also available for some projects. (See logistics section at the bottom of this page and notes in each project description.)

Applications for January 2023 are now closed.

Project 1: Piecing Together the Story: Microclimates in Declining Hemlock Stands (open to Harvard undergraduates and graduate students)

Mentored by Dr. Jackie Matthes, Harvard Forest Senior Ecologist

Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a foundation tree species throughout the northeast US that plays a unique role in structuring a humid and cool understory microclimate. This distinctive microclimate influences ecosystem water flows and soil carbon cycling and creates a unique habitat for understory plants and animals. Since 2009, hemlock at the Harvard Forest have been in decline and many have died from stress caused by the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid insect. This project will combine multiple long-term datasets that have been collected since 2004 to examine changes in understory microclimate and carbon and water cycling in hemlock-dominated areas at Harvard Forest.

Two winter interns will work as a team to design a data analysis workflow for investigating changes to forest microclimate from hemlock decline in addition to other external forcings from climate change such is declining winter snowpack, higher rainfall in summer and autumn, and periodic summer drought. Insights from this project could help to inform our understanding of forest resilience in response to multiple global change stressors. A successful candidate will possess a combination of the following skills and experiences: a) working with data in spreadsheets, b) some experience in the R statistical language or willingness to complete a self-paced intro to R (~6 hours) before the intern program begins (we would provide additional compensation for this time if it is needed), c) coursework in ecology, environmental science, or earth science, d) experience designing graphs and figures for scientific communication of data, e) passion for investigating complex real-world questions and datasets, and f) clear communication regarding project-related questions and challenges.

A successful candidate will possess a combination of the following skills and experiences:

  • Working with data in spreadsheets
  • Some experience in the R statistical language or willingness to complete a self-paced intro to R (~6 hours) before the intern program begins (intern will receive additional compensation for this time if it is needed). 
  • Coursework in ecology, environmental science, or earth science
  • Experience designing graphs and figures for scientific communication of data
  • Passion for investigating complex real-world questions and datasets
  • Clear communication regarding project-related questions and challenges
To apply, please submit a combined PDF file that includes:
  • A full resume or a resume “lite” that includes your contact info, study concentration, and graduation year, plus a list of 3-5 relevant courses you have taken, and 3-5 relevant jobs or activities you have had
  • Contact info for two academic or professional references
  • A 250-500-word statement of interest exploring these questions: 
    • Why do you think that this internship would be a valuable opportunity for your growth as a scientist?
    • What do you hope to learn/gain from this experience?

Project 2: To Be Seen: Amplifying Local Indigenous Voices (open to Harvard undergraduates and graduate students)

Mentored by Nia Holley, Dr. Shersingh Joseph Tumber-Dávila, and Clarisse Hart

What does it mean to be a land steward? What do meaningful and respectful collaborations with Indigenous communities look like, especially here at Harvard? For over a century, the Harvard Forest has pursued its mission of research & education on 4,000 acres of unceded Nipmuc homeland. Today we are working to build a long-term relationship with the Nipmuc People that ensures that this land and its life-giving benefits are accessible, affirming, and sustaining, and remain so for generations to come.

This internship follows work begun in 2020, one thread of which is the 2022-20223 To Be Seen Project, co-developed by Nipmuc and Harvard Forest community members and supported by a grant from the Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund. "To Be Seen" seeks to amplify the voices of local Indigenous communities (the Nipmuc community here at Harvard Forest, and the Massachusett community in Cambridge) and to enhance a sense of belonging for all Indigenous community members at Harvard. Through the installation of a series of interpretive signs on a widely used public trail at Harvard Forest, we strive to create a model for other campus units looking to amplify local Indigenous voices and to interrupt the dominant colonizer narrative that excludes and devalues the lived experience and self-determination of Indigenous community members. 

As part of the “To Be Seen” team at Harvard Forest, the intern(s) selected for this project will contribute directly to 1) an ongoing discussion to strengthen pathways to self-determination of local Indigenous communities, and 2) content development and design of the new trail sign series. Content for the signs will largely come from the intern's work collating feedback offered during community visioning meetings in the fall and during the internship in January. These signs will amplify the voices and visibility of living Nipmuc people, encourage active self-reflection by viewers regarding their responsibilities on Nipmuc land, and serve as a model for landscapes on the main campus in Cambridge. 

Successful candidates will bring:

  • their own knowledge of the histories and cultures of Indigenous communities that compel decolonization efforts today
  • excellent communication skills
  • an ability to relate empathically and thoughtfully to others
  • familiarity with graphical design and public interpretive content development, or a willingness to learn
To apply, please submit a combined PDF file that includes:
  • A full resume or a resume “lite” that includes your contact info, study concentration, and graduation year, plus a list of 3-5 relevant courses you have taken, and 3-5 relevant jobs or activities you have had
  • Contact info for two academic or professional references
  • A 250-500-word statement of interest exploring these questions: 
    • What does it mean to be seen and heard? 
    • How are each of us walking in two worlds when walking in a landscape?
    • What are the ways we expect to see Indigenous people in a learning environment or in a landscape? How can we improve?
    • How can we use our voices, or be seen, without being retraumatized?
Submit the combined PDF file by October 31 to the Crimson Careers portal or to hart3@fas.harvard.edu.

Project 3: Creating an Environmental History Database Covering 1560-1880 for the Northeastern Temperate Forest Region (open to Harvard undergraduates and graduate students)

Mentored by Dr. Neil Pederson, Dr. Dave Orwig, Dr. Laura Smith, and Dr. Donald Davis

Trees are complex, long-lived individuals that compose complex, dynamic ecological communities. Understanding the stability of forests over time and space requires attempts at identifying multiple agents of change, such as climate, natural disturbance (hurricanes, ice storms, etc.), human land management, and human demography. Many environmental histories in the Northeastern U.S. have focused on 1-2 of these agents. As a part of our NSF-funded project on the ecological legacy of climate on forests, a team member has assembled an unprecedented collection of observations of environmental change between the late 1500s and late 1800s.

For a three-week internship, we envision a student interested in this subject creating a searchable database of this information and then either 1) creating a synthesis around a particular period of environmental change from this collection across our study region and 2) a project that arises from working with us and these observations that the student finds particularly fascinating, which could include assimilating tree-ring records and/or plot data with historical climate observation.

To apply, please submit a combined PDF file that includes:
  • A full resume or a resume “lite” that includes your contact info, study concentration, and graduation year, plus a list of 3-5 relevant courses you have taken, and 3-5 relevant jobs or activities you have had
  • Contact info for two academic or professional references
  • A 250-500-word statement of interest exploring these questions: 
    • Why do you think that this internship would be a valuable opportunity for your growth as a student scholar?
    • What do you hope to learn/gain from this experience?

Project 4: Graduate Student Internship - K-12 Teacher Online Resource Organization/Design (open to Harvard graduate students only)

The Harvard Forest Schoolyard Ecology team is seeking a graduate student to assist in a structural reorganization of our rich set of online resources for teachers. The goal is to make the resources both more accessible and searchable for teachers and students, including improving the findability of resources that advance particular state and national educational standards. Additionally, we are seeking to prepare material that would help classify the resources by different WIDA standards for different levels of English language proficiency. The successful candidate will have a working familiarity with NGSS standards, Massachusetts State education standards, WIDA standards, and familiarity working with spreadsheets.  

Note exceptions from the logistics below: only graduate students are eligible for this project. This internship can be done in person or remotely. A part-time option is available for this project (for a reduced stipend).

A successful candidate will possess a combination of the following skills and experiences:
  • a working familiarity with NGSS and Massachusetts state education standards related to STEM
  • a working familiarity with WIDA standards
  • experience working with spreadsheets
  • experience with resource organization, especially to serve an audience of educators
To apply, please submit a combined PDF file that includes:
  • A full resume or a resume “lite” that includes your contact info, study concentration, and graduation year, plus a list of 3-5 relevant courses you have taken, and 3-5 relevant jobs or activities you have had
  • Contact info for two academic or professional references
  • A 250-500-word statement of interest exploring these questions: Why do you think that this internship would be a valuable opportunity for your professional growth? What do you hope to gain from this experience?
Submit the combined PDF file by October 31 to the Crimson Careers portal or to hart3@fas.harvard.edu.

Logistics for All Internship Projects

  • Interns will live on site and work full-time (35 hrs/wk) for nearly 3 weeks (Wednesday, January 4 to Friday, January 20, with MLK Day off) and be paid a one-time stipend of $1512 (undergraduates) or $1848 (graduate students) at the conclusion of the internship.
  • Room and board are provided at no cost to the intern. Interns (we anticipate 5-7 on-site for this winter) are housed in a small farmhouse dorm on the Harvard Forest campus, with students in single or shared (double and triple) bedrooms and shared common areas.
  • Interns will cook their own meals in the dorm kitchen and be driven to the local Market Basket grocery store weekly to obtain groceries (funded by Harvard Forest) for those meals.
  • Transportation to/from Harvard Forest is provided cost-free as part of the internship. At the beginning and end of the program, staff will transport students between Harvard Square and Harvard Forest. Students who have their own cars are welcome to bring them (we will reimburse your mileage between Harvard Square and Harvard Forest at the beginning and end of the program).
  • Harvard Forest is located in a remote area (Petersham, Massachusetts is a rural town of 1,000 people) 70 miles west of the main Harvard campus. Public transportation is not available here. Interns’ work and free time will be spent here on the quiet Harvard Forest campus, unless they have their own car.
  • Harvard University wifi is available throughout campus, including the dorm.
  • Interns are given their own desk in a shared workspace in the main HF building and all necessary supplies.
  • Interns can expect daily or near-daily check-ins with their project mentors - but there also will be a strong expectation for independence and self-motivation in the work. The full intern cohort will be offered a weekly guided field trip to explore the local landscape. For your free time, there are many hiking trails at Harvard Forest and we will provide snowshoes for those who would like to use them.
  • Harvard Forest has a Code of Conduct that everyone working and living here is expected to follow. We are also a department within Harvard University, so all relevant university policies, including COVID protocols, are in place here.
  • The Harvard Forest welcomes individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation for the application process or have questions about the physical access and resources provided on-site, please contact us at hfvisit@fas.harvard.edu. 

Learn more about the Harvard Forest winter internship program and see highlights from past students here.

To Apply

See required application materials in each project description.

Applications were due October 31, 2022 - applications are now closed.

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