Yale Community

Student Internships

The Yale Peabody Museum is delighted to offer a robust summer internship program for Yale undergraduate students! Interns participate in the rich variety of research taking place in the Yale Science Hill community and will work on a semi-independent project with one or more advisors using the Yale Peabody Museum’s diverse collections and resources. Thanks to an endowment along with a generous annual gift, we have been able to support 12 to 14 students each summer since the inception of the program in 2016.


Summer 2022 Internship Projects

Please read the list of internship projects below. All internships are 8 weeks long unless otherwise noted. The internships are for Yale undergraduate students; seniors graduating in May 2022 are unfortunately not eligible. The project descriptions for the YPM summer internships were developed by the internship advisors. You are welcome to contact the advisor(s) to propose changes or extensions to these projects, and accompanying budgetary amendments. If so, please be prepared to describe these changes in the application.

Click on any of the projects below for more information:

Description

Eastern North America contains the most species rich freshwater fish fauna among temperate regions of the world. The Central Highlands are a set of disjunct areas that are hypothesized to contribute to the high aquatic biodiversity of North America. This project will involve the estimation of phylogenetic relationships, assessment of morphological diversity, and delimitation of species in three lineages of freshwater fishes that are endemic to the Central Highlands. The project will involve the construction of genomic libraries, the use of bioinformatic tools to infer phylogenetic relationships from genomic-scale datasets, and the collection and analysis of morphological data to delimit species. Given the public health situation, there will be a field trip to the different regions of the Central Highlands to augment holdings of tissues and whole body specimens at the Yale Peabody Museum.

Advisors

Thomas J. Near
Associate Professor, EEB

Julia Wood
EEB graduate student

Length

6-8 weeks in the summer

Outcomes

It is likely this work will result in at least one scientific paper and could very well become a senior thesis project for a Yale undergraduate student.

Connection to YPM collections and departmental/divisional goals

This project will utilize collections resources present in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology.

Summary of potential costs
(e.g. supplies, travel)

Field work will be covered by available research funds.

Stipend

$2,700 (6 weeks) – $3,600 (8 weeks)

Description

Salamanders are exceptionally diverse in the habitats they occupy and their life history. These differences have allowed them to occupy different ecological niches and to utilize different feeding modes (e.g., suction feeding, tongue protrusion). These differences in feeding modes are, in turn, adaptive shifts in cranial and hyobranchial morphology. The goal of this project will be to collect and analyze skeletal and musculature data and compare differences in morphology to better understand the evolution of salamander feeding systems.

The YPM intern will learn how to collect morphological data from museum specimens available at YPM. Interns will have the opportunity to prepare specimens to be micro-CT scanned for 3-D visualization. Scanning will be conducted by Henry Camarillo (appropriate time on the scanner will be reserved prior to Summer 2022), but the intern may observe the process. Interns will have the opportunity to post-process micro-CT scans and collect morphometric data from the salamander cranium and tongue skeleton. The intern will be trained to analyze the morphological data through statistical and evolutionary methods utilizing the R programming language. Specifically, the intern will combine data they collected with morphometric data previously collected by the Muñoz lab and learn how to do comparative evolutionary analyses between salamander species.

This project has the potential to lead to a continued undergraduate research position in the Fall semester, senior thesis project, presentation at conferences, and/or publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Advisors

Dr. Martha Muñoz
Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology;
Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Henry Camarillo
Graduate Student of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Length

6-8 weeks in the summer

Outcomes

The intern will be encouraged to publish a peer-reviewed paper in a scientific journal. In addition, (pandemic allowing) the intern will have the opportunity to present work at the 2023 northeast regional and/or national meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB 2023 in Austin, Texas).

Connection to YPM collections and departmental/divisional goals

This work will directly use specimens available in the Vertebrate Zoology (Herpetology) collections, with supervision and assistance of Sr. Collection Manger, Greg Watkins-Colwell. In addition, scan data will be uploaded to the Peabody Museum Collection Management System and eventually made available to online public outlets, which helps other researchers access data from natural history museums.

Summary of potential costs
(e.g. supplies, travel)

Research/travel costs will be covered with available funds.

Stipend

$2,700 (6 weeks) – $3,600 (8 weeks)

Description

The Peabody Museum seeks a motivated Yale undergraduate student to participate in a research internship in the summer of 2022, with its Division of History of Science and Technology (HST) at Yale’s West Campus. The internship can last from six to eight weeks long, with the supervisor and successful candidate to decide on the optimal length and timing.

HST has a nationally-important collection of scientific and medical instruments, technologies of all kinds, and other types of related artifacts and archives from across more than 500 years. These fascinating objects tell inspiring and meaningful stories about research and teaching in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - including at Yale since its foundation in 1701. They also shed light on the history of everyday life, business and industry, entertainment and fashion, the visual and performing arts, and global conflicts and oppression. These stories include how people and communities have been involved in, excluded from, and affected by science and technology.

Our wide-ranging collection supports people who are interested in all kinds of subjects and careers including history, science and medicine, museums and archives, design, communication, visual and performing arts, and social justice and community engagement. We are therefore happy to consider students from different subjects and interests, for whom we can identify internship activities which will enrich both the intern and the collection.

Examples of some of the activities which students have done and discussed with HST in the past include researching more diverse stories for our new exhibition gallery and our social media, researching the history of specific museum objects, collecting and processing oral histories from interview subjects, photographing and organizing objects, designing artistic installations around objects, designing visualizations or hands-on models of our objects and of related science, doing modern science with data or specimens preserved in our collection, and assisting with all of the types of museum activities that go on in the Division.

We are open to different styles of internships as well. The student could identify and work on one major project throughout the internship, work on multiple projects, or contribute to all kinds of collection operations if they were most interested in gaining experience in the museum sector. The supervisor and successful candidate will determine the format and deliverable of the projects which the intern will be doing, and they will also be expected to give a presentation at the end of the internship about what they have accomplished.

Although previous relevant experience can help - being interested, motivated, adaptable, and dependable are the most important qualities for this position! Potential applicants are welcome to ask questions and to discuss their ideas with Dr. Baker before the deadline.

Find out more about HST at the following links.

Blog: https://peabodyhsi.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PeabodyHSI
Website: https://peabody.yale.edu/explore/collections/history-science-technology

Advisors

Alexi Baker
Collections Manager, Division of History of Science and Technology, Yale Peabody Museum

Length

6-8 weeks in the summer

Stipend

$2,700 (6 weeks) – $3,600 (8 weeks)

Description

The Peabody has recently invested considerable resources to develop Horse Island as a location for teaching and research. This investment is particularly relevant to the study of marine invertebrates, given the local access to a diversity of habitats and now excellent infrastructure. Many future research and teaching activities on the island will depend on having up-to-date species lists, resources for species identification, and collections of specimens to serve as references. The intern in this project will spearhead these critical activities, building on the extensive existing knowledge of Long Island Sound invertebrates in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. While we have many collections from surrounding waters, few specimens in our existing collections are known to actually be from Horse. It is also not known which species known from LIS are actually present at Horse, given recent invasions (particularly of fouling organisms) and variation in local habitat.

We are very excited to develop Horse as a site for local training and research on inverts. The foundation of any such work is a rigorous, up-to-date bioinventory. This work will be of great value in future teaching at the island, providing a framework for students to interpret the organisms they find. It will also be of great importance for future research projects that focus on local marine fauna.

Advisors

Casey Dunn
E&EB Professor and Peabody Museum Curator of Invertebrate Zoology

Eric Lazo-Wasem
Collections Manager, Invertebrate Zoology, Yale Peabody Museum

Length

6-8 weeks in the summer

Outcomes

  • A species list of marine inverts at Horse
  • Collections of each species that are suitable for teaching and demonstration, some of which (eg shells) may remain on-site
  • Aids to identification of inverts at Horse, e.g. photographs and guides

Connection to YPM collections and departmental/divisional goals

This work will directly use specimens available in the Vertebrate Zoology (Herpetology) collections, with supervision and assistance of Sr. Collection Manger, Greg Watkins-Colwell. In addition, scan data will be uploaded to the Peabody Museum Collection Management System and eventually made available to online public outlets, which helps other researchers access data from natural history museums.

Summary of potential costs
(e.g. supplies, travel)

Research/travel costs will be covered with available funds.

Stipend

$2,700 (6 weeks) – $3,600 (8 weeks)

Description

Undergraduates are invited to participate in morphological research during the summer of 2022 to work with a curator and graduate student from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (YPM). This project focuses on the adaptive morphology of the primate hip and knee to reconstruct the locomotor behavior of fossil primates from the Paleocene and Eocene. Extant primates share many skeletal features that reflect their evolution from an arboreal ancestor. Living in the trees is challenging and dangerous, requiring specialized morphology to navigate this complex 3D environment. To successfully traverse these habitats, early primates are hypothesized to have employed grasp-leaping locomotion, just as several extant primates do today. This form of locomotion involves grasping hands and feet and relies on powerful hind limbs for leaping across gaps in the canopy. Many of the adaptations in the hind limb for grasp-leaping can be found at the hip and knee joints.

Although we cannot directly observe the relationship between grasp-leaping locomotion and skeletal morphology in fossil primates, we can use extant taxa as models by comparing the morphology of their hip and knee to that of early fossil primates. This project will focus on the early primate fossils housed in the YPM collections, and it will build upon morphological analyses of extant primates. The undergraduate researcher will assist with these analyses in a laboratory setting. This work will help test hypotheses about early primate locomotor behavior and enhance our understanding of primate origins and functional morphology.

The undergraduate researcher will be involved in multiple aspects of this project. They will learn to use anatomical characteristics to identify and describe primate taxa to address questions such as 1) what is the morphological diversity of primate hind limbs, 2) which skeletal features in the hip and knee best correlate with locomotor behavior, and 3) which extant primates serve as the best models for early fossil primates. The researcher will learn how to post-process micro-CT scans of these specimens, generate three-dimensional models from the scans, and measure functionally informative features of primate hips and knees from the 3-D models. The researcher will also learn how to conduct statistical analyses in R. Hence, the researcher will have the opportunity to learn post-processing techniques and methods of morphometric data collection and analysis. This project could lead to an expanded senior thesis project, a presentation at a professional conference, and/or a publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Advisors

Professor Eric Sargis
YPM Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Vertebrate Zoology

Spencer Irvine
Graduate Student, YPM Vertebrate Paleontology

Length

6 weeks in the summer

Stipend

$2,700

Description

The billions of specimens housed in biological collections provide a tremendous source of under-utilized data that are useful for scientific research, conservation, commerce, and education. Plant specimens housed in collections (also known as herbarium specimens), which provide species and location and date specific records spanning the last three centuries, provide a rich source of data for various kinds of scientific study. Focused studies highlight the great potential to mine these repositories to obtain critical insights into climate change, land-use change, the spread and impact of invasive species, and forest conservation.

It is predicted that rapid climatic changes during the Anthropocene have myriad past and future impacts on life. One such impact concerns the timing of seasonal biological events, or phenology. It is predicted that warmer seasonal temperatures will result in changes in plant flowering and fruiting times. To investigate how climatic and geographic factors have affected reproductive phenology within New England [or possibly other regions] species, a student will gather flowering and fruiting-time data from botanical specimens and analyze how these data vary with temperature, time, and geography.

Advisors

Patrick Sweeney
Collections Manager, Botany, Yale Peabody Museum

Length

6 weeks in the summer
(excluding June 4–10 & July 22–31)

Stipend

$2,700

Description

Yale Peabody Museum is in the process of new renovations. We now have the opportunity to bring in new technology for preservation and digitization to create representations of artifacts that could be more accessible to the public. I am constantly thinking about preservation techniques for natural history artifacts and digital preservation with a strong, clear path for our future. Peabody has started implementing photogrammetry technology for large and highly complex spaces like the dioramas for 3D capture. Surface scanning is a great primary tool for smaller objects but as we push the boundaries at our museum, we are looking to other forms of 3D capture. CT scanning, large scale digitization, photography and photogrammetry software will be important in conjunction with student involvement as an essential aspect of this new work flow.

Structure, Objective and Student Role

Students will be comparing CT scans, Artec surface scans and results from photogrammetry capture. Peabody looks to have these techniques compared for digitization of a specific specimen. The data and results can help us determine the best methods for digital capture for variety of objects. An object from our collection at vertebrate paleontology will be chosen to work from for this project.

The student will assess spatial accuracy with the open-source software package Cloud Compare, to compute cloud-mesh distances between scanned areas and a reference CT scan derived mesh or point cloud. Additional comparisons of total time, effort, method complexity, color accuracy and texture resolution will be made for each method applied.

The Question- The student will establish a question related to 3D capture, accuracy, and the methods of capture in regards to a museum object.

Hypothesis- The student will use research to establish a hypothesis for their question on various 3D capture techniques.

Experiment- The student will evaluate CT scans and work hands on with surface scanning and photogrammetry to digitize a Peabody object.

Observe and Record- The student will observe and work hands on with the various digital capture techniques. A record should be kept of the results from each method used.

Analysis- The student will analyze data from each type of work flow used for 3D capture.
Share Results- Finally, the results will be presented showing the differences between CT scans, surface scanning and photogrammetry. Hands on work, research, observation and analysis will be taken into account for establishing results. A final return to the original question will take place and the student will make a case for the best process of digitization for the Peabody specimen.

(The intern will provide a brief writeup for each category listed above as they work through the process.)

Work Specimen

Dromicosuchus VP.057103 will be the object provided from vertebrate paleontology.

Internship Timeline

Weeks 1 & 2: Introduction to Peabody collection specimen. Discussions on surface scanning and photogrammetry. Develop a question and hypothesis for the accuracy and testing of various digitization processes.

Weeks 3 & 4: Dive into photogrammetry and processing in Agisoft Metashape.  Experimentation and collection of data sets will take place.

Weeks 5 & 6: The student will observe and record information gathered from various data sets for comparison. 

Week 7: The student will evaluate and analyze accuracy using Cloud Compare for cloud mesh distances. Additional comparisons of total time, effort, method complexity, color accuracy and texture resolution will be analyzed.

Week 8: Student evaluation write up showing results between the various methods including accuracy and detail with in the various forms of 3D capture.

Expectations

  • Students from all parts of campus will be welcome for this role.
  • Computer and technology skills will be needed for this project. Proficiency or interest in learning photogrammetry software such as Agisoft Metashape or CapturingReality programs will be necessary. A strong interest in research and analysis of 3D model data sets.
  • A preferred background in photography, and the ability to work carefully with historical specimens will be necessary.

The internship goals outlined above come at a time of exploration, renovation and revitalization for the Peabody Museum. The team is hoping to bring on a student with technical skills that can help us explore, research and evaluate information data sets from several methods of digitization.

Advisors

Collin J. Morét
Exhibit Media Developer, Yale Peabody Museum

Nelson Rios
Head of Biodiversity Informatics and Data Science, Yale Peabody Museum

Length

6-8 weeks in the summer

Stipend

$2,700 - $3,600

Description

The Communications Office of the Peabody Museum seeks an intern interested in pursuing a research question that lies at the heart of our historic collections: “Why does the object matter?” With high-resolution photography, CT scanning, 3-D printing, and NFTs, are the >14 million items occupying the museum’s shelves and cabinets becoming obsolete? How do the material and human histories give the “object” a unique value, and how does uncovering those histories offer insight into collecting practices, contemporary scientific research, and the future of museums? What does an encounter with the actual object offer a researcher, student, or museum visitor?

Research will involve object analysis (e.g. measurements, chemistry, etc.), consultation with collection staff and/or available primary sources (e.g. field notes, interviews, etc.), and citation and exhibition history. Working in collaboration with staff and curators, the investigation of these questions will yield meaningful archival information and fascinating content that can be shared with the Peabody’s growing community of followers and families via social media, the museum’s website, and on its YouTube channel. The project will culminate with an essay and a public presentation for a live audience.

Internship Timeline

Weeks 1-2: Object(s) identification: Work with Collection Managers to identify an appropriate object or set of related objects.  

Weeks 3-7: Research and content production: Conduct interviews, consult primary sources and Peabody Museum archive, complete thorough literature review and citation history, and create visual and written content with assistance from communications team.

Week 8: Editorial and presentation preparation: Receive and incorporate feedback from communications and editorial staff, finalize presentation.

Deliverables

  • 6–8 social media posts
  • 1 final essay with multimedia (photo/videos)
  • 1 public presentation

Connection to YPM Collections

The participant will work directly with collections staff to identify appropriate objects and research their history through interviews, archival information, associated publications, etc. 

Advisor

Chris Renton
Associate Director of Communication & Marketing, Yale Peabody Museum

Length

8 weeks in the summer

Stipend

$3,600


Unless otherwise indicated, all internships have an in-person and a remote version. The cohort of students selected for YPM summer internships will convene twice (virtually this year) before the end of the spring semester for an orientation and introduction to the program, and to discuss expectations. During the summer, weekly group check-ins will be a chance to share progress and insights. In early fall or after the close of the internship, students will submit write-ups and either schedule presentations or create short virtual recorded talks. 

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Past Summer Internships

Take a look inside a few of the summer internships through these fantastic student blogs!