State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Summer 2021 Earth Institute Internships

The Earth Institute is offering undergraduate, graduate and PhD students opportunities to intern in various departments and research centers in a variety of roles. Interns work on a variety of sustainability-focused projects across the Earth Institute. These projects provide interns with hands-on workplace experience, allowing them to grow professionally while the Earth Institute centers benefit from their meaningful contributions.

All full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply for internships. These internships are funded at a rate of $17 per hour for 35 hours per week, June 1 – August 31 (420 hours total). The application will open April 1 at 9am ET. The deadline to apply is April 29 at 11:55pm ET.

The positions include:

  1. Climate Adaptation in Rwanda
  2. Eco-Social Interactions Influencing Human Exposure to Ticks and the Lyme Disease Agent in Anthropogenic Landscapes
  3. Impacts of Human Activities, Policy Regulations, and Episodic Events on the Health and Ecology of New York Coastal Waters
  4. Safe Water for All
  5. Sustain What Friendly Takeovers
  6. Towards a Transformative Approach to Gender and Peacebuilding
  7. Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Access in Rural India (NEW!)

More details about each position are below.

To apply:

Complete the online application available here by April 29, 2021 at 11:55pm. While you may apply for more than one position, you must submit separate applications for each. Decisions will be made 2-3 weeks after the deadline.

Contact Cari Shimkus ( with questions.

Climate Adaptation in Rwanda

Department: Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development

Desired Student: Graduate, PhD

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will provide administrative support for two pilot research projects being conducted in Rwanda in May 2021. Each project uses qualitative social science research methods, including interviews and surveys. By the end of May, we expect to have 50-70 raw transcripts in two languages that will need to be sorted, organized, and potentially coded over the summer. Using data analysis software, the student will take the lead in all aspects of this effort. 

Skills Required: Familiarity with sustainable development, climate change adaptation, and/or the African context is preferred. Ideally, the student will also have experience using NVivo or other data analysis software; we can potentially include some training sessions (regularly offered by Columbia) as needed. Experience managing large qualitative data sets, particularly in the context of social science research is also preferred. Self-directed, organized, and enthusiastic students particularly welcome.

Eco-social Interactions Influencing Human Exposure to Ticks and the Lyme Disease Agent in Anthropogenic Landscapes

Department: Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology

Desired Student: Undergraduate, Graduate

Anticipated Tasks: Effective engagement with study participants is central to achieving the project objectives as well as for fostering best-practice communication of study results. The intern will contribute significantly to the project by (1) conducting computer-assisted telephone interviews with study participants; (2) recruiting homeowners to participate in ongoing backyard tick and host sampling efforts; (3) updating study tracking databases to monitor recruitment and survey completion progress; (4) assisting with the preparation and dissemination of announcements and reports; (5) managing communication and public outreach through the Diuk-Wasser Lab website and associated social media. This position can be conducted remotely.

Skills Required: Proficiency in MS Office, web and social media products; experience with public outreach or science communication. Familiarity with the statistical program R is a plus.

Impacts of Human Activities, Policy Regulations, and Episodic Events on the Health and Ecology of New York Coastal Waters

Department: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Desired Student: Graduate

Anticipated Tasks: The intern’s tasks are directly relevant to the project’s objectives and will focus on (i) developing web and social media content relevant to this project; (ii) writing blogs and essays relevant to projects findings; and (iii) interviewing project participants, collaborators and stakeholders involved in this project. The intern will also collect information from library archives that will give historical context to water quality changes in Long Island Sound as a result of rapid urbanization. The intern will also have an opportunity to learn new satellite remote sensing tools and integrate field measurements with satellite observations and results from numerical models for improved predictions of the system’s response to future pressures.

Skills Required: We are looking for highly motivated, creative students with strong background and interest in environmental sciences, strong writing and communication skills (e.g., essays, blogs, interviews), and experience with various social media and communication platforms (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, Instagram).

Safe Water for All

Department: Columbia Water Center

Desired Student: Graduate, PhD

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will compile data from a variety of federal and state datasets related to water quality and drivers of water contamination, such as exposure to lead, nitrates, arsenics, and others. As part of the project, the intern will perform analytics to identify local hot spots, and space and time trends in water quality violations, the likelihood of exposure to a set of contaminants, and the demographics affected. This will require using GIS tools to plot/correlate with demographic attributes. This is a data-intensive project so we would greatly benefit from having resources to help us compile, develop, and analyze the multiple data streams.

Skills Desired: Experience with data analysis (R or Python), GIS, database management, and ability to work independently. Knowledge of machine learning methods is a plus.

Sustain What Friendly Takeovers

Department: Initiative on Communication and Sustainability

Desired Student: Graduate

Anticipated Tasks: A student intern would be responsible for outreach and organizing planning sessions for Sustain What broadcasts, including related social media strategy development for each show, in consultation with Andy Revkin. The student would help pull together summaries for the State of the Planet blog, gaining valuable exposure through the bylines there. There will likely be one “friendly takeover” session a month through the summer.

Skills Required: Experience in planning online events is a plus, including efficient creation and management of Google spreadsheets, forms, etc. The ideal candidate will have a track record of writing online and demonstrated ability for short-turnaround writing. Spanish language is a plus but not required.

Towards a Transformative Approach to Gender and Peacebuilding

Department: Women, Peace, and Security Program at the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity

Desired Student: Undergraduate, Graduate, PhD

Anticipated Tasks: The intern will join the WPS Program team for the summer as an integral member of this project. During the course of the summer, the intern will contribute to: reviewing and analyzing data; conducting and transcribing interviews; assisting with developing and disseminating surveys; and other tasks as assigned. The intern will also have an opportunity to take on various communications tasks, including writing blog posts, creating content for social media, and contributing writing and editing to a policy brief or article. An intern’s participation would significantly advance our ability to make key connections between the learning generated through the fellowship program and broader trends in the literature and policy field of women, peace and security. A student with experience in strategic communications (ex. writing blog posts, op-eds, etc.) and/or graphic design would be a plus, in order to help communicate our findings to key audiences.

Skills Required: 

  • Background knowledge and/or professional experience related to gender, community organizing, development, peacebuilding, African studies, or public policy;
  • Interest in working side-by-side with grassroots women peace builders;
  • Curiosity about and/or dedication to the participatory praxis of activism/research;
  • Interest in and knowledge of African politics and region;
  • Excellent time management and interpersonal skills;
  • Skilled in strategic communications and excellent writing skills and/or experience with journalistic writing or academic prose;
  • Experience in survey design and/or data analysis (quantitative and qualitative);
  • Skills in graphic design or data visualization skills a plus.

Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Access in Rural India (NEW!)

Department: Center for Sustainable Development

Desired Student: Graduate

Anticipated Tasks:

  • In conjunction with the principal investigator, participate in monitoring of data collection of 1200 households and interviews of clinical staff at primary healthcare centers;
  • Analyze data from the household surveys and interviews with clinic staff about disruptions to healthcare access during COVID-19;
  • Participate in the discussions and design of new policies with the local state government to counter the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare access;
  • Participate in the writing of the final manuscript.

Skills Required:

  • Data analysis (STATA, SPSS or equivalent)
  • Organization skills
  • Advanced knowledge of Excel
  • Research experience a plus
  • Understanding of developing world context, particularly India, is a plus
  • Interest in policy work a plus
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