Education News

Summer Climate Change Adaptation Internships

2009-04-22

This summer the Earth Institute is offering Columbia students opportunities to work both on campus and in the city on climate change adaptation projects focusing on the New York Tri-State Region through the Earth Institute Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. Please note that only current students of Columbia University and Barnard College are eligible to apply. Students graduating in May or June 2009 are not eligible.

Please see below for ten (10) internship opportunities. All positions pay $15 per hour and are limited to 350 hours over the summer; a typical internship is 35 hours per week for 10 weeks. Most start and end dates are flexible. Please submit indicated application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu. All applicants must state the name of the internship(s) they are applying to in the subject line of the email and should include a separate cover letter for each internship applied to.

Application deadline is Wednesday, May 6th at 12:00 pm (noon).

  1. New York City Green Roofs
  2. New York City Water Quality
  3. Urban Securities
  4. Urban Natural Resources Long-term Monitoring
  5. Urban Forest Restoration Ecology Assessment
  6. Wetland and stream resources in NYC: monitoring, protection and management priorities in the face of land use and climate change
  7. Evaluating the Avoided Costs of Climate-Health Preparedness
  8. Evaluating Historical Trends in U.S. Aeroallergen Production
  9. Communicating climate change adaptation: developing best practices
  10. New Trends in Federal Climate Strategy

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1. New York City Green Roofs

Organization:   Lamont-Doherty/Earth and Environmental Engineering
Office Location:  401 Comer (Lamont Campus)/905E Mudd (Morningside Campus)

Brief description of anticipated research assistant tasks: Green Roofs are an environmental engineering technology that has had increasing global interest and implementation in the urban infrastructure for sustainable development.  It is generally accepted that green roofs help with retaining rainwater as to manage and mitigate CSO events. Research has also been aimed at green roofs and their abilities to reduce building energy consumption and capture anthropogenic carbon dioxide.  This project would involve helping maintain the research on Columbia University's array of green roof systems. The project would also explore the behavior and benefits of Green Roofs for adaptation of New York City.  Instrument use, field work and data collection would be a component of this project.

Skills Required: Data Entry & Processing, Matlab, Report Writing

Type of Student desired: Undergraduate or Graduate

Research Assistantship start date:   After June 1
Research Assistantship end date:    10 weeks after start date

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

2. New York City Water Quality

Organization:   Lamont-Doherty/Earth and Environmental Engineering
Office Location:  401 Comer (Lamont Campus)/905E Mudd (Morningside Campus)

Brief description of anticipated research assistant tasks: A real time observation network of water quality in the Hudson River and tributaries was built and is operated by Columbia University and partners with the state, federal agencies, private foundations, and research organizations. This project would look at the effects of climate change, human behavior and the natural ecosystem on oxygen levels, contaminants and general health and water quality in New York City water bodies. Instrument use, field work and data collection would be a component of this project.

Skills Required: Data Entry & Processing, Matlab, Report Writing

Type of Student desired: Undergraduate or Graduate

Research Assistantship start date:   After June 1
Research Assistantship end date:    10 weeks after start date

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

3. Urban Securities

Organization:   Urban Design Lab  
Office Location:  2910 Broadway, Hogan Hall 

Brief description of anticipated research assistant tasks: The Urban Design Lab is the organization within the Earth Institute that connects the University's experts in a number of fields with dedicated students and communities in New York City and elsewhere. The Urban Design Lab conducts projects for community-based and other stakeholder organizations attempting to shape development in their home neighborhoods. The Research Assistant will work on several projects in the preliminary stages of development. The RA will conduct research and coordinate with the Lab's partners to move these projects forward. One project entails study of urban redevelopment in Upper Manhattan; another climate and health-related issues in East Harlem. The project Urban Securities is investigating ways in which urban areas in general must respond to challenges of growth and globalization. Through a series of multidisciplinary forums and publications Urban Securities will outline practical solutions at the policy and community levels.

Skills Required: Candidate must have a design background and excellent writing skills. Knowledge on Geographic Information System (GIS), Adobe Creative Suite, Word and PowerPoint PC software is necessary.

Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Research Assistantship start date:   flexible
Research Assistantship end date:    flexible

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a writing sample and a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

4. Urban Natural Resources Long-term Monitoring

Organization:   Natural Resources Group, NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation
Office Location:  Arsenal North, 1234 5th Ave (at 104th Street), NY, NY, 10029

PlaNYC Reforestation is one of 127 initiatives launched by Mayor Bloomberg on Earth Day 2007 to make New York City greener and greater by 2030.  The reforestation initiative builds on the habitat and natural resource restoration work that NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Group (NRG) has been conducting since 1984.  NRG has been conducting research and monitoring work on NYC's diverse array of habitats for almost 25 years.  Long term monitoring data is essential for assessing the impact of climate change on New York City's grasslands, salt marshes, wetlands and forests.

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The Earth Institute intern would assist with research on the impact of urbanization and climate change on species diversity in New York City.  The intern would assist in identifying, organizing and analyzing the relevant data in NRG's archives to assess trends in biodiversity over time, and assist in building a framework for continuing NRG's long term monitoring efforts.

The responsibilities of the intern would include:

  • Identifying and organizing data in NRG's data archives
  • Gathering data sets for specific parks or taxa and assist in their analysis
  • Assist in the development of a data catalogue for long term monitoring
  • Field data collection of long term monitoring data.

Skills Required:

  • Undergraduate studies in ecology, forestry, botany, conservation biology, or a related subject
  • Coursework or work experience in field data collection, study design, or monitoring
  • Strong interest in urban ecology
  • Excellent analytical and writing skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Familiarity with MS Excel or other spreadsheet software required.
  • Familiarity with GPS data collection / GIS software preferred

Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Internship start date:   June 1, 2009
Internship end date:     July 30, 2009 (end date negotiable)

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

5. Urban Forest Restoration Ecology Assessment

Organization:   Natural Resources Group, NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation
Office Location:  Arsenal North, 1234 5th Ave (at 104th Street), NY, NY, 10029

PlaNYC Reforestation is one of 127 initiatives launched by Mayor Bloomberg on Earth Day 2007 to make New York City greener and greater by 2030.  The reforestation initiative builds on the forest restoration work that NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Group (NRG) has been conducting since 1984.  PlaNYC Reforestation has increased the scale and scope of forest restoration in New York City, committing the City to forest 2,000 acres of public land by 2017.  Expanding forested areas within New York City will help to improve environmental quality within the city today, and help us adapt to climate change in the future. Some of the expected benefits of reforestation include reduction of the urban heat island effect, improvement of air quality, reduction of stormwater surges, and improvement of species diversity and habitat quality within the City.

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The Earth Institute intern would assist with research and evaluation of urban forest restoration by collecting data at multiple forest restoration sites in New York City.  The intern would assist in evaluating both current and historical restoration sites, and will also assist in gathering pre-restoration baseline data at sites identified for future plantings.  The intern may also research and collect data on the carbon sequestration capacity of soils and woody plants in urban forests, and the impact of urban forest restoration on mitigating climate change. 

The responsibilities of the intern would include:

  • Collect field data on species diversity, particularly of woody and herbaceous plant communities, soil samples, and environmental quality in and around the forest restoration site;
  • Data entry of field collected data into a spreadsheet;
  • Basic data summaries and analysis of field data.

Skills Required:

  • Undergraduate studies in ecology, forestry, botany, conservation biology, or a related subject
  • Coursework or work experience in field data collection, study design, or monitoring
  • Strong interest in urban ecology
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Familiarity with GPS data collection / GIS software preferred 

Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Internship start date:   June 1, 2009
Internship end date:     July 30, 2009 (end date negotiable)

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

6. Wetland and Stream Resources in NYC: monitoring, protection and management priorities in the face of land use and climate change

Organization:   Natural Resources Group, NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation and the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
Office Location:  Arsenal North, 1234 5th Ave (at 104th Street), NY, NY, 10029

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The Natural Resources Group's (NRG) mission is to conserve New York City's natural resources for the benefit of ecosystem and public health through acquisition, management, restoration, and advocacy using a scientifically supported and sustainable research.  NRG is currently developing a riparian and freshwater wetlands monitoring and assessment program with funding from the U.S. EPA. The goals of this project include: characterizing the functions, conditions of and threats to urban freshwater wetland resources, prioritizing wetlands for protection, identifying management and protection strategies, and establishing baseline monitoring in wetlands to assess adjacent land use and management and potential climate change impacts.

The Earth Institute intern would help implement field stream assessment monitoring protocols, organize and evaluate data collected, prepare associated GIS data layers and databases, and prepare field sheets and maps.  At NRG, they will work for the project manager and ecologist, and receive research guidance as appropriate from Matt Palmer at Columbia. The intern will have the opportunity to work on one of two different components of the project, depending on their skills and research interests. 

For the landscape level component, the intern would help develop a GIS-based analysis of past and future land use impacts to wetlands. This analysis could look at land cover types, drainage infrastructure, development patterns, potential climate change impacts including those from stormwater runoff, and future protection and restoration opportunities, including the adoption of low impact development.   

Alternatively, for the local field scale project component, the intern would help implement baseline riparian and wetland monitoring protocols that would be used to assess ecological conditions and answer specific research or management questions citywide.

Skills Required:

  • coursework in ecology, botany, conservation biology, hydrology, geology, planning OR related subjects
  • experience with ESRI ArcInfo GIS (if applying for GIS aspect of project)
  • coursework or work experience in field data collection, study design, or monitoring (if applying for field work component of project)
  • strong analytic, organizational and writing skills
  • strong interest in and willingness to learn field stream assessment and plant identification skills
  • ability to work independently
  • ability and willingness to work under adverse conditions, such as cold and rain 

Type of Student desired: Undergraduate or Graduate     

Internship start date:   June 2009
Internship end date:    August 2009

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

7. Evaluating the Avoided Costs of Climate-Health Preparedness

Organization:   Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Office Location:  40 West 20th Street, 11th Floor, New York, New York

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The student intern will assist NRDC's Global Warming and Health Project in helping to answer a burning question: what are the economic benefits of investing now in climate-health preparedness, thus avoiding future climate-health costs by helping to avoid future climate-health emergencies? This question is one that is increasingly being asked by policymakers locally, regionally, and nationally. NRDC has already completed one such economic analysis of hospitalizations and ER visits associated with a 2006 California heat wave, which can serve as an example. The intern would work with NRDC scientists and research existing scientific literature, news reports, and economic analyses to compile information on an array of U.S. regional climate change impacts that can affect health; for example:

  • Flooding in North Dakota
  • Exacerbation of air pollution episodes in the New York City region
  • Wildfires in California or other southwestern states
  • Drinking water shortages/drought in Atlanta, GA or other southeastern states
  • Sea level rise on the eastern seaboard, Pacific NW, or Gulf coast
  • Cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Milwaukee WI (1993 case study)
  • Harmful Algal Blooms in FL
  • Coastal storm damage

Skills Required: Strong research and written communication skills; familiarity with the range of health impacts associated with global warming, and with the climate adaptation issues and planning. Experience working in public health or doing economic analyses would be a plus.

Type of Student desired: Graduate

Internship start date:   June 8, 2009
Internship end date:     August 14, 2009

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a writing sample and a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

8. Evaluating Historical Trends in U.S. Aeroallergen Production

Organization:   Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Office Location:  40 West 20th Street, 11th Floor, New York, New York

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The student intern will assist NRDC's Global Warming and Health Project in analyzing historical pollen data from the 1930s-1940s for selected US cities, in order to evaluate possible changing time trends in pollen production over the intervening decades. Laboratory and field studies have suggested that rising CO2 concentrations exacerbate pollen production, extend the pollen season, and even possibly increase allergenicity.  An extended pollen season could have harmful consequences for millions with allergy and asthma in the U.S., and would be important in understanding how global warming has already impacted human health. However, there is relatively little historic pollen data, and even today there are relatively few daily pollen data collection sites in the US with which to investigate the question of CO2's effect on local pollen production. The intern will compare the historical pollen data to current-day pollen data for those same cities, and look at changes in cumulative seasonal pollen production and characteristics over several decades within the same city and within individual pollen-bearing species (tree, grass, or weed). Analytical methods to control for changes in pollen collection instrumentation, local weather conditions, and local land use over that time will be developed. By looking at changes in the timing of pollen seasonality over the span of years during which atmospheric carbon dioxide has significantly increased, we can evaluate possible correlations between changing CO2 and changing aeroallergens in US cities to better understand the current health impacts of climate change.

Skills Required: Strong research and written communication skills; familiarity with the range of health impacts associated with global warming. Experience in statistical data analyses of biological datasets, especially time-series, is a plus.

Type of Student desired: Graduate

Internship start date:   June 8, 2009
Internship end date:     August 14, 2009

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a writing sample and a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

9. Communicating climate change adaptation: developing best practices

Organization: Columbia Climate Center
Office Location: 2910 Broadway, Hogan Hall

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks:  The Columbia Climate Center (CCC) aims to raise awareness and improve communication of climate science. To this end we will be working to develop a communication strategy. Aspects include research on framing and communicating climate science to be summarized in blog postings or in web articles, working with the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) and the CCC to launch the CRED Guide to Communicating Climate Science, working to identify and develop best practices.

Skills Required: Excellent writing and communication skills; coursework or research experience in journalism, psychology, or graphic design/web design or development or earth science, public health, law, engineering background with interest in communication and outreach.

Type of Student desired:  Either Undergraduate or Graduate, depending on expertise and interests.

Internship start date:  May 25, 2009 (flexible)
Internship end date:   August 7, 2009 (flexible)
(10 week period)

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a writing sample and a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.

 

10. New Trends in Federal Climate Strategy

Organization: Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Environmental Planning & Analysis
Office Location: 59-17 Junction Blvd, East Elmhurst, NY (Queens)

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: Selected candidate will conduct research on emergent trends in federal climate change assessment and adaptation strategy, including (but not limited to) the development of a National Climate Service.

Skills Required: Deep familiarity with federal legislative process; exemplary research and writing skills

Type of Student desired: Undergraduate or Graduate

Internship start date:  June 1, 2009
Internship end date:   August 7, 2009

Note: Candidate must be prepared to travel as needed to DEP offices in East Elmhurst, NY (Queens - approx. 1 hr by subway from Columbia)

To apply, students must provide a cover letter stating their interests, abilities, student enrollment status and graduation date, along with a writing sample and a resume.
Please submit application materials to Robin DeJong at robin@ei.columbia.edu by noon (12:00pm) on Wednesday, May 6th.