Thank you for your interest in an internship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Internships are intended for undergraduates, recent graduates (post-bachelor’s) and beginning graduate students interested in advancing their professional goals and  intellectual skills under the guidance of a scientist working at STRI. Internships give interns the opportunity to meet and interact with scientists from around the world, gain hands-on experience in their area of academic interest, and delve into Panama’s rich culture.
Interns will be selected based on merit and potential for achievement. However, placement depends upon the availability of a match between the applicant's interest and a new or ongoing project supervised by a STRI staff scientist. We encourage applicants to directly contact potential supervisors. Staff research profiles and contact information can be found here. If your research interests do not correspond to those of our staff, please let us know and we will send you a list of research affiliates and/or postdoctoral fellows carrying out research at STRI.

How to apply
You can find a general application form here that can be used to apply for all internships for which you are eligible.
Prior to submitting the formal application, applicants must consult with the staff scientist they are interested in working with to determine if that scientist will be available to serve as a research mentor. Please allow the scientists ample time to provide the Office of Academic Programs with the required project description (they will know what this is). If you are having trouble identifying someone whose research interests align with your own or contacting a scientist, please let us know and we can help you!  All application materials, except recommendation letters and the project description, must be submitted as a single PDF via email to fellows@si.edu by the application deadline. Please inquire if you are unable to submit your application via email. If necessary, there are other ways that we can receive applications.

**Important note: All persons visiting STRI, including interns, must have health insurance during their time here. Upon acceptance into the internship program, you will be asked about health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, or if your coverage does not extend to Panama, you can purchase insurance through STRI.

Current Internship Opportunities

Research Experience in the Tropics
APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15 March, and 15 October of each year.


PROGRAM DATES: Internships usually begin approximately 2 months after notification of acceptance into the program.

DESCRIPTION: Individual applicants will be selected to conduct research under the supervision of scientist at STRI. Interns will work closely with their research mentor, becoming an integral participant in the scientist's larger research agenda. Additionally, interns will be encouraged to reflect on the conceptual and research implications of the work at hand so that they may maximize their understanding of a particular subject area.

ELIGIBILITY: Undergraduates, recent graduates (post-bachelor's) and early-stage graduate students interested in the research areas represented by STRI's scientific staff.

AWARD: Internships last 3 months and include a monthly stipend of $800 US to cover room and board. This internship does not include any travel or research allowances.

Female Choice Experiments with Tungara Frogs
APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15 March of each year.


PROGRAM DATES: June - August.

Description: Assistants are needed for a continuing study of sexual selection and the evolution of the communication systems in the tungara frogs by Dr. Mike Ryan, University of Texas and Dr. Stan Rand (who recently passed away), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The main part of this study involves conducting female choice experiments for 3 months each wet season. Each year the tungara group includes a pair of assistants, one a North American student and the other a student from Latin America who have formed a competent and reliable team. Typically, the assistants become well integrated into the conceptual background of the project and often conduct their own independent studies, which have been published in international peer-reviewed journals. Working and living closely together provides both assistants with an intensive intercultural exchange that has been positive for them and for us. Dr. Ryan is on site for the first half of the summer. The day-to-day operations are run by one or two of Ryan's post-docs or graduate students, who have had multiple years of experience in studying tungara frogs for their Ph.D. theses.

The assistants, after an initial training period, are responsible for collecting mating pairs of tungaras each evening in the vicinity of STRI's facilities in Gamboa. The females are brought back to the lab where phonotaxis studies are conducted. Females are placed in a large, walk-in acoustic chamber and allowed to choose between pairs of stimulus calls, presented from opposing speakers. The assistants record choices made, paths traveled, time spent choosing, etc. After the test session, the assistants mark the females and return them to the sites where they had been collected. A typical working night is from 7:30 PM until 3:30 AM. The assistants shift their daily schedule to a nocturnal one for these three months.

The stimulus calls are computer synthesized and computer presented. The assistants become familiar with this operating system, Signal. They also enter the data they have collected in Excel and learn these data management tools as well.

The initial training includes an introduction to the tungara project as a whole and the rationale underlying the tests to be running, the protocols, experimental design and statistics to be used are discussed. Each day the test results of the previous night are reviewed and the selection of new tests discussed. Often research reports are presented and discussed. The papers, reports, grant proposals and manuscripts that have resulted from the project so far are made available and the assistants are encouraged to read and discuss these and the related literature with us. The assistants are expected to work about 8 hours a day, on an average of 5 days a week. Assistants often will accumulate days off to afford them the opportunity for extended trips in Panama. How students spend their time off has varied greatly, depending on the individual. Most have taken advantage of opportunities to explore the local environment, talk to other STRI visitors and residents in Gamboa and at other facilities, and to visit other parts of Panama. Some conducted pilot research for their PhD theses, three others completed small but publishable projects on frog oviposition behavior, still another collected the data for her master's thesis, others have collaborated with Ryan and Rand on short papers on results during the season.

For more information about the tungara frog project contact Dr. Michael Ryan at mryan@mail.utexas.edu. Additional information about the tungara project and Ryan's other research interests can be found at his web site at http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/ryan.

ELEGIBILITY: Assistants are usually beginning graduate students or advanced undergraduates. They must have a working knowledge of English, and a driver's license is useful. Preference will be given to applicants with an interest in pursuing studies in animal behavior.

AWARD: Two assistants share a 1 bedroom apartment in Gamboa. Round trip airfare to Panama will be paid by the project and an assistant will receive $1,000 per.

Robert Stimming Internship
APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15 March, 15 May, 15 August, and 15 November of each year.

PROGRAM DURATION: up to 4 weeks.

PROGRAM DATES: Internships usually begin approximately 2 months after notification of acceptance into the program.

DESCRIPTION: This internship is based at STRI's Galeta Marine Laboratory, which is both a research and an educational facility. Thus, interns may apply to assist in education and outreach projects as well as research.

ELIGIBILITY: Undergraduates, recent graduates (post-bachelor's) and early-stage graduate students majoring in biology (or a sub-discipline of biology), natural resources, environmental engineering, tourism, education, geography, history, architecture, economics, sociology, or political science.

AWARD: Awards are variable, depending on the nature of the work and the length of the internship.



Smithsonian Tropical
Research Institute
Office of Academic Programs
MRC 0580-12
Unit 9100 Box 0948
DPO AA 34002-99

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