Fall 2020 Earth Institute Internship Opportunities

by Minji Ko |August 14, 2020

The Earth Institute is offering undergraduate, graduate and PhD students opportunities to intern in various departments and research centers in a variety of administration, communications and research 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 up to 10 hours a week for 12 weeks (a maximum of 120 hours during the semester). All positions will take place remotely.

The positions include:

  1. Advancing diversity and inclusion at LDEO and in the Earth Sciences
  2. Book Research and Development – Sustainable Development
  3. Circular Campus – Reducing Waste, Emissions, and Costs while Reimagining Patterns of Consumption at Barnard
  4. Climate information for pastoralists in the West African Sahel (ACToday)
  5. Communications Intern
  6. Food and water security in pastoral communities
  7. Law and Science of Climate Attribution
  8. Post-Disaster Housing and Economic Recovery Training Solutions for Government, Non-profit and Private Sector Leaders
  9. Progressing towards a global flood risk layer
  10. Reconstructing Variability in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation Over 200,000 Years
  11. Satellite based flooded area agricultural index insurance- translating lessons from Bangladesh for Colombia
  12. Translating climate information for decision-making at the farm level (ACToday Coffee initiative)

 

To apply:

Complete the online application available here by September 14, 2020 at 11:55pm. 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 2021.

Contact Cari Shimkus (cshimkus@ei.columbia.edu) with questions.


1. Advancing diversity and inclusion at LDEO and in the Earth Sciences

Department: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

 Anticipated Tasks: The intern will help with planning, implementation, and evaluation of events and projects related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. This will include helping to coordinate the Seminar Diversity Initiative, plan the monthly Gender and Diversity Coffee Hour at LDEO, and participate in a graduate student and faculty-led effort to develop and run a Race, Climate and Environment Seminar for Fall 2020. The intern will work with their mentors to collect data about the impact and efficacy of these programs and make recommendations based on their results for how they can be improved. The intern will work with members of the Lamont community with extensive experience in advancing diversity and inclusion within the earth sciences, and work alongside them to elevate Lamont’s reputation as a leader in diversity and inclusion among its peers. This could include helping to plan a high-visibility diversity session at the Geological Society of America’s virtual meeting at the end of October and/or a community Town Hall session at the American Geophysical Union’s December meeting.

Skills Required:

  • Organized, punctual, creative
  • Experience with reading, analyzing, and summarizing academic papers and developing research questions, word processing

Type of Student Desired: Undergraduate


2. Book Research and Development – Sustainable Development

Department: Center for Sustainable Development

 Anticipated Tasks: The Book Research and Development intern would be responsible for assisting with research for the production of the Director, Professor Jeffrey Sachs’, upcoming books on ethics and sustainable development, and economics and the influence of geography. Core responsibilities would involve writing literature reviews, compiling datasets, help with writing and editing, and assisting with coordination of publication logistics (timeline permitting). The upcoming books, currently at the early stages of production, will cover a wide range of topics related to sustainable development- from geographic modeling of globalization, to the ethics and philosophical history of economics.

Skills Required:   

  • Excellent reading comprehension
  • Excellent editing, writing, and research skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Proactive and self-motivated
  • Able to work with minimal supervision
  • Professional demeanor
  • Basic familiarity with issues of sustainable development

Type of Student Desired:

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate

3. Circular Campus – Reducing Waste, Emissions, and Costs while Reimagining Patterns of Consumption at Barnard

Department: Barnard Campus Sustainability and Climate Action

Anticipated Tasks: The Circular Campus is divided into three major areas of focus: reuse and access, waste stream diversion, and food and dining. Our initiative in the fall of 2020 will focus on piloting an internal reuse platform with the Barnard arts community (Rheaply), and further developing the Circular Campus framework.

Specific tasks include:

  • Coordinating student users of Rheaply, a peer to peer exchange platform. This would include recruiting students in the arts as part our pilot, providing support to new users, and soliciting and compiling feedback.
  • Analyze the data collected by the Rheaply software and assess total waste diversion, carbon reduction, and cost savings. The intern will be trained in these calculations and analysis.
  • Researching best circular practices in the business sector that can be adapted to higher education.
  • Communication: Social media, creation of online resources, creating infographics on various aspects of Circular Campus including general education (ie, what is a Circular Campus, why is it important) and communicating impact findings.

Skills Required:

  • An interest in circular and equitable economies
  • Ability to clearly communicate
  • Ability to work collaboratively, creatively, and independently
  • Motivation to work effectively while remote is a must.
  • All other skills can be taught. Helpful skills include statistical analysis, database management. Graphic design skills (Adobe Spark, Indesign, Photoshop, or equivalents) are a plus. 

Type of Student Desired:

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate

4. Climate information for pastoralists in the West African Sahel (ACToday)

Department: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Anticipated Tasks: The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) is seeking a research intern to assist in documenting the climate information needs of pastoralists in the Sahel region of West Africa, and Senegal in particular.

In West Africa, the adaptation of pastoralist communities to climate change has so far been less studied compared to agricultural communities. The research intern will help to fill these information gaps by conducting a review of the French and English literature (peer-reviewed and grey) on the topic of climate information needs and pastoralists’ access to climate and vegetation monitoring information in the West African Sahel. In doing so, the intern will pay particular attention to existing institutions (national, regional and international) that provide climate information and vegetation monitoring to pastoralists in the region, and in Senegal specifically.

Skills Required:

  • Strong research, analytical, and writing skills are required
  • A working proficiency of both the English and French languages
  • Familiarity with (or interest in) sustainable agriculture, climate change, international development, and the West African region is preferred
  • Applicants should be able to work independently and remotely, with strong attention to detail.

Type of Student Desired:

  • Graduate
  • PhD

5. Communications Intern

Department: Earth Institute Communications

Anticipated Tasks: The Earth Institute Communications team seeks an intern this fall to help with outreach, research, writing, and virtual event production.

Due to the pandemic, our iconic Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Open House in October is being moved online. We are going to need a savvy intern who can help us build an incredible virtual experience, reach out to partners and schools to increase engagement, and more.

We also have a number of ongoing projects we’ll need help with, from writing blog posts, to highlighting and increasing diversity in the geosciences, to building an interdisciplinary partnership between the sciences and the arts to increase the Earth Institute’s impact.

Skills Required:

  • Excellent written and communication skills
  • Passion for connecting with others
  • Confidence when reaching out to potential partners
  • CMS website management (preferred but not required)
  • Data organization, Excel/Google Suite
  • Zoom
  • Thorough digital researching
  • Follow through on projects and communications
  • Creative and full of good ideas 

Type of Student Desired: Undergraduate


6. Food and water security in pastoral communities

Department: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Anticipated Tasks: The selected candidate will work with the research team to analyze interview data from pastoralists in Senegal and Burkina Faso, as well as to translate select portions of those interviews into English.

This project has three main goals: (1) understand the relative vulnerability of pastoralist livelihoods to climate shocks as compared to agricultural livelihoods, (2) measure pastoralists’ access to climate forecasting and vegetation monitoring and (3) understand the role of natural water bodies and built water infrastructure plays in meeting pastoralists’ water needs during droughts.

Skills Required: Fluency in French

 Type of Student Desired:     

  • Graduate
  • PhD

7. Law and Science of Climate Attribution

Department: Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Anticipated Tasks: Climate change detection and attribution science shapes our physical understanding of the global climate system and frames discussions about responsibility and accountability for the impacts of climate change. Governments, courts, and private actors are using attribution science to address critical legal questions such as whether governments are doing enough to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, whether corporations can be held liable for their contributions to the problem, and what compensation persons affected by climate change impacts may deserve.

Our interdisciplinary approach to exploring these cutting-edge questions is a collaboration between the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Together we published an article this year that explores the intersection of climate law and climate science. We are now building a new climate attribution database to make the scientific research underpinning our work readily available and understandable to the public. We anticipate that, among others, the database will be useful for scientists interested in seeing how their work impacts legal issues, lawyers working to use that science in support of litigation that advances climate change goals, and policymakers of many kinds who will benefit from a deeper understanding of climate change attribution.

The Sabin Center seeks an intern to centralize and summarize existing research on climate change attribution, including peer-reviewed articles, synthesis reports, scientific bulletins, and cross-cutting scholarship on the topic. The intern will assist the Center by identifying and summarizing existing attribution scholarship, making that information available to the public through our new climate attribution database, and may assist in research and drafting of public comments or other analysis (such as policy briefs or blog posts).

Skills Required: The position is open to all undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Strong research and writing skills and excellent attention to detail are required.
  • Familiarity with, and interest in, climate change attribution and/or climate change law is an advantage.
  • The Sabin Center’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion leads us to seek candidates from a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds.

 Type of Student Desired:

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate

8. Post-Disaster Housing and Economic Recovery Training Solutions for Government, Non-profit and Private Sector Leaders

Department: National Center for Disaster Preparedness

 Anticipated Tasks: Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) is collaborating with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop and deploy research-based housing and economic recovery training solutions for state, local, and tribal government leaders and decision-makers in the private and non-profit sectors.

The intern is expected to:

  • Conduct research about various community stakeholders who have a role in recovery after a disaster in communities where trainings are being conducted.
  • Assist with operations for trainings in the field.
  • Develop resources for FEMA-funded programs and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Analyze pre- and post- scores and feedback from trainings to improve best practices.
  • Support development of course content on post-disaster housing and economic recovery and on COVID-19

Skills Required:

  • Experience in disaster preparedness and recovery, public health, social science or related field
  • Excellent writing and research skills
  • Interest in disasters and its impacts on populations
  • Attention to detail and ability to work independently
  • Quantitative and qualitative data analysis skills including experience with statistical software such as STATA, R, SPSS, Dedoose or Excel.
  • Preferred to have experience with instructional design and teaching.

Type of Student Desired: Graduate


9. Progressing towards a global flood risk layer

Department: Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

 Anticipated Tasks:

  1. Collaborate with CIESIN and IRI partners on hydrologic modeling methods that will be used to assess flood risk.
  2. Select a component or characteristic of the model to analyze the accuracy and granularity necessary to prove useful for specific decisions in the humanitarian space.
  3. Write a brief description of methods and results from the selected analysis.

Skills Required:

  • Experience with scientific modeling, preferably geophysical or hydrologic
  • Ability to work with geospatial data and apply analysis techniques
  • Experience and/or interest in disaster risk reduction, humanitarian operations and/or policy
  • Proficient in or willing to learn academic writing

 Type of Student Desired:

  • Graduate
  • PhD

10. Reconstructing Variability in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation Over 200,000 Years

Department: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Anticipated Tasks: The objective of this project is to better understand how cycles of global glaciation affect the temperature structure of the water column in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific. Today, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation is a major influence on temperature variability in the region. This region is also a location of CO2 exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. This research will increase our understanding of how climate and oceangraphic conditions at low latitudes in the Pacific Ocean have changed over Earth’s recent glacial history.

Deep sea marine sediment cores are archives of past ocean conditions and contain proxies for variables such as temperature. The oxygen isotope ratio of the fossil shells of calcareous organisms called foraminifera, which live at different depths in the water column, are a widely used proxy. Although many species of foraminifera often exist at a single location, researchers commonly focus on a single species of interest. Comparisons of multiple species of foraminifera that live at different depths in the water column at a single site will give us a better understanding of temperatures at different depths through time.

The intern will sift through scientific literature for existing paleoceanographic records from several species of foraminifera in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific. The intern will identify relevant study locations and compile, visualize, and analyze existing foraminifera records at those locations.

Skills Required:

  • A basic understanding of Earth’s climate and oceans, or an interest in learning about these systems.
  • Basic experience with Microsoft excel, Python, R, or other data analysis/plotting softwares of your choice.
  • Looking for a student who is a close reader and is organized.

Type of Student Desired:

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate

11. Satellite based flooded area agricultural index insurance- translating lessons from Bangladesh for Colombia

Department: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

 Anticipated Tasks: The intern will serve as a data analyst for this project, working with the Sentinel-1 algorithm in python developed by Beth and collaborators in Google Earth Engine. The intern will run the algorithm over coastal regions in Colombia, and perform sensitivity analysis on key algorithm parameters to ensure it is optimized to the Colombian context. We will test the algorithm accuracy using high resolution optical data form the Sentinel-2 and Planetscope satellites. Project members will provide support in trouble shooting code and performing analyses. The intern will participate in meetings with the ACToday Colombia team at IRI and potentially Fedearroz, as well as develop figures for internal IRI and scientific publications.

Skills Required:

  • Prior programming or data analysis skills or a willingness to learn R, python, and/or Google Earth Engine (can be coded in javascript or python).
  • Previous geospatial analysis skills a plus. 

Type of Student Desired:

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate
  • PhD

12. Translating climate information for decision-making at the farm level (ACToday Coffee initiative)

Department: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Anticipated Tasks: The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) is seeking an intern to assist in a research project on translating climate information for economic decisions at the farm level. The intern will be part of a multidisciplinary project that analyzes how low profitability and climate variability affect income and sustainability for smallholder coffee producers in Africa.

Skills Required:

  • Strong research, quantitative and writing skills are required.
  • Familiarity with, and interest in, sustainable agriculture, climate change and development are preferred, but not required.
  • Applicants should be highly motivated, proactive and able to work independently and remotely.

Type of Student Desired:

  • Graduate
  • PhD

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