State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Earth Institute Fall 2016 Internships

This fall, the Earth Institute is offering students opportunities to work as interns within various departments and research centers at the institute. All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply. These internships pay $15 an hour for 10 hours per week, up to 120 hours during the spring. The positions include:

  1. Pediatric research using integrated sensor monitoring systems (PRISMS): sensor development projects for asthma
  2. Events and Communications Department Internship
  3. First annual layers in the Hudson River?
  4. ReBear—the Barnard Reuse Center
  5. AC4 technical support for website and communications
  6. Constraining the ice flow and climate history of the Antarctic ice sheets using ice-penetrating radar
  7. Should oil and gas producing countries pursue investments in refineries?
  8. Stronger deals for sustainable development: improving access to technical assistance for low-income countries
  9. Understanding resilience of children, youth and communities in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
  10. PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership: outreach, data management and general administration Intern
  11. Polar Explorer app

To apply:

Complete the online application available here:, by Sept. 20 at 11:30 p.m. While you may apply for more than one position, you must submit separate applications for each. Decisions will be made shortly after the deadline.

Students who are awarded internships will be expected to participate in the Earth Institute Student Research Showcase in spring 2017.

Contact Jessica Sotomayor ( with questions. You may also address cover letters to Jessica Sotomayor, senior program manager, Office of Academic and Research Programs.

Pediatric research using integrated sensor monitoring systems (PRISMS): sensor development projects for asthma

Working with a Lamont research assistant professor

Anticipated tasks: The intern would basically have two tasks: 1) help set up and carry out testing protocols of the aerosol sensors we are developing at the Lamont campus and in NYC to investigate their performance, sensitivity, wearability and compare lab analyses to sensor results; 2) organize and analyze data from multiple sensors from lab experiments and field trials in NYC and other testing sites (e.g., Los Angeles and Beijing); 3) help design the air inlet of optical sensors.

Skills required: This project is a mixture of instrument design, fieldwork, and data crunching of collected data from multiple sensors. The data analysis portion of this project will require the intern to work with statistical programming languages like MatLab, SAS or R to merge and carry out statistical analyses. Some experience (including course work) with industry design is a plus.

Type of student desired: undergraduate, graduate

Events & Communications Department Internship

Anticipated tasks: Provide support for communications and events staff working on a variety of projects. Tasks include but are not limited to: assisting with promotion and distributing advertising, staffing events, generating content for social media, supporting general office needs, and other projects as needed.

Skills required:

  • Strong knowledge of Microsoft Office
  • Strong customer service orientation
  • Experience and comfort with social media
  • Strong writing skills
  • Ability to interface professionally with variety of constituents
  • Ability to prioritize, take initiative, and multitask

Type of student desired: undergraduate, graduate

First annual layers in the Hudson River?

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Anticipated tasks: The intern will help with sieving samples, assessing grain size distributions, searching for fossils including pelagic and brackish foraminifera and marine worm jaws. The intern will also look for data on the web: salinity, oxygen levels, rainfall and flow rate data. All of these data types are needed to test our annual sedimentation model.

Skills required: The intern should be observant, patient and interested in Earth and Ocean science. Some previous microscope skills are desirable but not essential. Some skill in performing internet searches and working with data on excel is also desirable.

Type of student desired: undergraduate, graduate

ReBear—the Barnard Reuse Center

Barnard College Department of Environmental Sciences

Anticipated tasks: The student will work with the Department of Environmental Science and Campus Services in implementing Barnard College’s first reuse center. The of the reuse center is twofold: to reduce the purchase of unnecessary goods as well as divert usable items from landfill. They will work with purchasing to create an online inventory data base as well as implement a system of collecting used items that faculty, staff and students wish to donate. The student will then help design and set up a store display as well create materials used to promote and educate the community about the sustainability benefits of such a center. The student will keep records of all items donated and reused through the center, help develop methods to measure the projects success, and write a report to be delivered to the vice president of campus services on the outcomes of the project, and ways to improve.

Skills required: Student will need to be a self-starter and able to work independently. Students should be interested in sustainable entrepreneurship and have a basic understanding of waste streams. Experience creating educational and promotional materials and basic data analysis preferred but not necessary.

Type of student desired: undergraduate

AC4 technical support for website and communications

Department: Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity

Anticipated tasks: Main tasks will pertain to communications, outreach, data management and research.

Website: update website daily, includes the following tasks: blog posts to convey news items and special announcements, homepage slideshow (weekly), content updated (as needed) and weekly events mailing

Social media: check and ensure postings are appropriate and relevant on Twitter (daily) and Facebook (daily), and Linked-In

Mailings (Mailchimp):

  • main updated mailing list
  • monthly newsletter
  • special mailings (as needed)

In addition to daily and weekly updates on above, assist hub project coordinator to maintain website, social media and mailings holistically and on special requests as needed (writing content, creating graphics and building out event or project pages on website)

Skills required:

  • Interest in contributing to the field of conflict resolution (CR)
  • Familiarity with what Columbia offers in terms of CR, peace and sustainability
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • Comfortable with outreach, including phone calls, emails and in person meetings
  • Ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • Experience with data management
  • Familiarity with WordPress and Mailchimp, and preferably HTML
  • Capacity to develop a social media strategy

Type of student desired: graduate, PhD

Constraining the ice flow and climate history of the Antarctic ice sheets using ice-penetrating radar

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Anticipated tasks: Mapping and analysis of ice-penetrating radar data: Ice sheets are layered. These layers are traceable for great distances, but deform as the ice sheet flows. The student will develop an efficient work flow to process two existing ice-penetrating radar datasets (one from West Antarctica and one from East Antarctica). Processing of data may include filtering, geolocation, surface correction and migration. The intern will identify the internal layers and bed to determine ice-sheet structure and determine how this evolved. These layers can be visualized in 3D to aid interpretation. Once the layers are mapped, the intern will help determine flow history and potentially relate that history to climate or other natural phenomena that change the ice sheet.

Skills required: Experience coding in Matlab, Python or another language. Technical skills in computer science, applied mathematics or engineering are a bonus. The willingness to develop an understanding of geophysical and radar methods and an eye for detail are helpful.

Type of student desired: undergraduate, graduate, PhD

Should oil and gas producing countries pursue investments in refineries?

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

Anticipated tasks: There is a growing sense among natural resource-producing countries that more of the raw materials should be processed domestically rather than primarily exporting unprocessed minerals and petroleum. This so-called downstream beneficiation is considered an opportunity to develop the domestic economy by creating jobs, enhancing skills and diversifying the economy. Large incentives are often offered to investors to build downstream industries such as steel refineries, aluminum smelters or refineries. Yet little has been written about the extent to which downstream beneficiation achieves the intended economic and social goals, and in which contexts. This research aims to shed some light on downstream beneficiation, by looking at the economic prerequisites that attract these industries, the extent to which these industries have led to linkages and further processing down the value chain in resource rich countries in the past, and assessing whether it makes sense to provide large incentives for downstream beneficiation in several case studies.

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment has identified iron-ore/steel as the first sector to research and has uploaded country case studies of Australia, Oman, South Africa and Ukraine. This work was undertaken by a previous intern that benefitted from Earth Institute internship funding (Jared Talkin). There has been much interest by government officials and other stakeholders in this work, and the center is looking to expand this research by looking at the oil and gas sector. Countries such as Nigeria have taken a strong stance for the extracted oil and gas to be refined domestically. Energy security is an added concern that plays into these decisions by governments as compared to the iron-ore/steel sector. The intern will be responsible to collect data related to oil production and refinery capacity, help select country case studies that will feed into the analysis, and help write up the final report for the oil and gas portfolio of this work.

Skills required: The candidate will be able to handle and analyze large data sets in Excel and have strong writing and editing skills. Experience in the energy sector is a plus, but is not mandatory. Candidates will be expected to provide examples of previously written articles or reports to support their application.

Type of student desired: graduate, PhD

Stronger deals for sustainable development: improving access to technical assistance for low-income countries

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment

Anticipated tasks: Low-income governments often look to large scale investment contracts with foreign investors, suppliers and contractors as a potential means of driving economic growth and development. The most important and complex of these are related to natural resources (land and agriculture, mining, oil and gas) and infrastructure projects. While investments can be critically important, many host country governments lack a strategic vision, strong regulatory frameworks, or the necessary resources to plan, prepare for, negotiate, monitor and implement such projects, limiting their ability to maximize the benefits for their country.

One of the gaps regularly identified in this regard is the lack of awareness of the tools and resources available to governments, as well as a general lack of knowledge-sharing and coordination among government departments, donors and the negotiation support providers assisting governments. The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment developed the Negotiation Support Portal ( to address the information-sharing and coordination gap by improving the accessibility and visibility of useful tools and resources and technical support available to assist governments in the investment process.

The center is seeking a student intern to assist with: 1) the further development of the Negotiation Support Portal, by conducting desktop research into existing resources, tools, databases and training that can be included on the portal; 2) with the organization of associated outreach to representatives from low-income governments and other relevant stakeholders; and 3) with other administrative and research tasks relating to the day-to-day management of the portal.

Skills required: The ideal candidates will have strong research skills, and be creative, highly organized and dedicated to the mission of sustainable investment. Interest in sustainable development, foreign investment, natural resources, corporate social responsibility and/or business and human rights are also strongly encouraged. The ability to speak French, Spanish, Portuguese, and/or Russian is desirable.

Type of student desired: graduate

Understanding resilience of children, youth and communities in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

National Center for Disaster Preparedness

Anticipated tasks: Since the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, there has been considerable interest in understanding the impact of the largest offshore oil spill on human health. The National Center for Disaster Preparedness is partnering with Louisiana State University’s Department of Sociology to assess the public health and social impacts of the spill with a special focus on children and their families over time. This study will leverage face-to-face household interview data collected by the center in 2014 on child and family health impacts in spill-affected areas to build a three-wave longitudinal data set with respondents who agreed to participate in subsequent follow-up surveys.

The intern is expected to support field operations implementation tasks including community outreach and engagement activities; perform survey testing; conduct literature reviews and learn about resilience, vulnerability and adaptive capacity of impacted populations in the wake of an oil spill disaster; provide assistance with on-site operations for project; support the project coordinator, the tech and data team members; contribute to the set-up logistics for field staff training sessions; contribute to report development.

Note: Travel to field site is NOT required; all work can be conducted from the office in New York.

Skills required:

  • Experience in disaster preparedness and recovery, public health, social science or related field
  • Excellent writing and research skills
  • Interest in disasters and their impacts on populations
  • Strong interest in working with under-served populations
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Attention to detail and ability to work independently
  • Data analysis skills including experience with statistical software such as R, STATA or SPSS would be a plus.

Type of student desired: graduate, PhD

PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership: outreach, data management and general administration Intern

Columbia Climate Center

Anticipated tasks:


  • Social media—help develop and implement PoLAR social media campaign
  • Website—assist in making weekly updates and modifications to the PoLAR website
  • Climate Matters blog—research and write short blogs of interest pertaining to the changing polar regions and innovative approaches to climate change education and communication

Data management

  • PoLAR outreach database—assist with maintenance, further development and creating visualizations of PoLAR outreach activities
  • PoLAR educational resources database—assist with maintenance, including update and review of resources currently in the database as well as identifying new resources


  • Assisting with partnership meeting details such as taking notes, preparing materials and managing logistics
  • Assisting with compiling PoLAR quarterly reports to the National Science Foundation
  • Assisting with elements of PoLAR evaluation and research, including identifying academic journals and helping to facilitate preparation of publications
  • Assisting with miscellaneous administrative tasks

Skills required: Academic interests: climate change, education and outreach, sustainable development and environmental challenges. Skills: proficiency with Microsoft Office, Excel and Powerpoint, strong writing and communication skills, knowledge of social media platforms, ability to work independently and in a team environment.

Type of student desired: undergraduate, graduate

Polar Explorer app

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Anticipated tasks: Under the supervision of the education and outreach coordinator, the intern will serve a key role in the Education and Outreach office at Lamont. The intern will provide administrative support and also strategic support on two new education projects, one focused on using data to communicate environmental information and the other focused on conducting assessments of current programs and surveying former program participants. The goal of the first project (the Polar Explorer app) is to encourage the user to interact directly with the data to gain an understanding of Earth processes, particularly sea level changes. The goal of the second project is to gather data and begin surveying former program participants. Data collected through surveys will be used in the preparation of proposals for federal agencies and private foundations.


  • Support communication and marketing initiatives for all education programming
  • Assist in efforts to set up a field trip program

Polar Explorer app

  • Assist in testing usability, locate maps and supporting data for a series of climate change topics
  • Assist with crafting directions and short information videos


  • Participate in the design and carrying out of surveys to program participants
  • Responsible for data tracking and compilation
  • Assist with summarizing data for proposal purposes

Skills required: The ideal candidate will be detail oriented, organized, have a familiarity with Excel for organizing data, and be able to work independently with limited oversight. Attention to detail is necessary. A background in environmental science and/or education is preferred.

Type of student desired: undergraduate

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Siti Nur'Ain Binti Abdullah
Siti Nur’Ain Binti Abdullah
7 years ago

Hello and good day,
My name is Siti Nur Ain Binti Abdullah from Malaysia. I am very interested in the internship program that you have been listed on the website especially something that involves about foraminifera. Now, I am in fifth semester in my study in marine science program. Currently, I am doing foraminifera for my final year project,so that why I am so eager to know that if the application of the internship that you have offer will be re-open for next year. My schedule of internship will be start around July- August next year. I hope I will hear something good from you soon.
Thank you