Internships are an important part of recruiting, educating and training the next generation of fisheries researchers and managers. Since 2009, 14 undergraduate students from colleges all over the U.S. have participated in the PIFSC Young Scientist Opportunity internship program to gain hands-on research experience while furthering their education. The program is a collaborative effort between PIFSC and the Joint Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) at the University of Hawaii that matches applicants with mentors and project opportunities. Interns in the program gain skills and training needed to pursue their professional goals and aspirations as they build a network of contacts in their chosen research field.
Under the mentorship of PIFSC and JIMAR staff, each intern tackles a challenging research project related to their own interests and the science mission of NOAA Fisheries. Their work encompasses a wide range of topics. For example, 2013 projects included:
- a comparison of baited and unbaited stereo video cameras for coral reef fish surveys,
- an analysis of still photographs for characterizing mesophotic coral distributions in American Samoa,
- an analysis of vocalization differences between different stocks of false killer whales in Hawaii, and
- a socioeconomics study of non-commercial fisheries in Hawaii.
The interns present their research findings at a special summer intern symposium and complete evaluations that help improve the program before returning to school for the fall semester.
In 2014 applications will be accepted starting in February. As in previous years, more than 100 applications are expected for three or four positions. Internship periods run 8-12 weeks with students working fulltime alongside their mentors for 40 hours per week. The positions pay approximately $15 per hour but the actual pay is contingent on the year-to-year funding situation. Successful applicants can expect a mix of field, laboratory and desk work during their internship. “We match students with projects that fit their goals and interests and that have staff able to provide the one-on-one mentoring essential to this type of experience,” said Donald Kobayashi, PYSO program coordinator.
Interns in the PYSO program have used the training and knowledge they received to pursue advanced degrees in fisheries or related fields. For many, the internship can be a spring board to academic and career growth on the road to becoming part of a new class of fisheries scientists.
For more information, see the PYSO webpage at http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/pyso/