12-Month Research Intern 2024

Applications for summer 2024 are now open!

The Echinacea Project is looking for an enthusiastic graduate or soon-to-be graduate for a 12-month paid internship starting in June 2024. We are looking to assemble a team of research interns with diverse skills and interests, and we encourage individuals with a bachelor’s degree in biology, botany, entomology, statistics, computer science, or a related major to apply. We especially encourage those who have had few or no research or training opportunities during college to apply.

This internship is a great opportunity for aspiring ecologists, conservation biologists, and evolutionary biologists to gain research experience and learn about the ecology and evolution of plants and insects in fragmented prairies. Read more general information about our field season!

Abby (research intern 2023) records the spatial location of an Echinacea plant using a GPS unit

Job description

As a research intern, you will contribute to ongoing research on the conservation genetics, reproductive biology, and demography of the prairie plant Echinacea angustifolia. Summer fieldwork occurs in western Minnesota, and greenhouse and lab activities are at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Interns will conduct an independent research project. This project may involve field research, germinating seeds in the lab, organizing and analyzing a dataset, developing computer software, or other activities depending on the intern’s goals and interests. Potential project topics include: flowering phenology, fire ecology, mating compatibility, plant-aphid-ant interactions, plant quantitative genetics, hybridization, software development, and plant-pollinator interactions.

Mia (research intern 2020-2023) harvests porcupine grass (Hesperostipa spartea)

As an intern, you will engage in many aspects of scientific research, outreach, and mentoring. Tasks during the summer include database management, experimental plot management, preparing data to use in the field (such as GPS paths), and discussing science with other interns. At the Chicago Botanic Garden, you will participate in a variety of research and conservation-related activities, attend seminars, and interact closely with conservation scientists, graduate students, interns, researchers, and volunteers associated with Plant Conservation Science at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the graduate program in Plant Biology and Conservation at Northwestern. Interns will spend time managing Echinacea Project volunteers and mentoring students. Tasks with volunteers include teaching protocols, answering science-related questions, and preparing samples so volunteers can collect data. In collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Echinacea Project hosts a number of high school and undergraduate interns over the fall, winter, and spring. Year-long interns will mentor these visiting interns on independent projects and engage them in lab activities.

Desired skills and experience for all applicants include: experience using R, completing tasks independently and on time, communicating clearly in writing, paying attention to detail, and working effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. Other valuable interests or experience include but are not limited to: performing outdoor physical work in adverse conditions, computer programming, supervising community scientists, mentoring students, conducting artificial crosses, organizing and curating specimens, automating systems, conducting outreach, growing plants, and identifying insects. If you are interested, please apply and let us know what you can contribute and what you hope to learn!

Applications will be reviewed starting on 13 March 2024 at 11:59 pm CST and filled on a rolling basis. The salary starts at $16.50/h. Housing in Minnesota during the summer is included.

How to apply

  1. Please fill out the online application form.
  2. Send a cover letter, your resume, and a transcript (unofficial OK) in one email to echinaceaProject@gmail.com. Use the subject line: “12-month research intern application” and format your cover letter, resume, and transcript as pdf files. Begin each file name with your surname.
    • In your cover letter, please include:
      • why you are interested in this position
      • what are your future plans
      • what you hope to gain from the experience
      • when you can start and end
      • your email and phone number
  3. Please ask one of your references to send a letter of recommendation to echinaceaProject@gmail.com.

Review of applications will begin on 13 March 2024 at 11:59 pm CST. We’ll accept applications until the position is filled. Be sure to include an email address and phone number where you can be reached in March.

You are welcome to apply to multiple positions with the same application. Please indicate which positions you are interested in on the form you submit with your application.

Members of groups underrepresented in science are particularly encouraged to apply. In order to be eligible for this position, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or permanent resident of the United States.

More information

First, read about our field season! If you have any questions, contact a team member via e-mail. Read about our lab and field activities on the flog and more about the project’s background. To learn more about fire and prairie plants, check out this video that we made.

Lindsey (research intern 2022-2023, right center) and Wyatt (research intern 2023, left center) clean Echinacea and Liatris heads with students and volunteers in the lab at the Chicago Botanic Garden