Boots on the Ground: Internships in Panama, 2015

Geology and Paleontology of the Panama Canal

Funding flyer header

Summer 2015 (May 17-August 15, 2015)

Deadline to apply: 5PM EST on March 9, 2015

NSF-funded internships are available effective immediately for the Panama Canal Project (PCP)-PIRE (NSF-funded Partnership for International Research and Education) for United States citizens or permanent residents undergraduate or post-bac students to assist with collecting fossils and other fieldwork in the exposures along the Panama Canal (Panama).

Interns will live in Panama for a minimum of 4 months during Spring and Fall, and 3 months during Summer conducting fieldwork under the supervision of PIRE PIs and Postdoctoral Fellows at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama City. Experience in Geological/Paleontological fieldwork and some level of bi-lingual (English/Spanish) competency is preferred.

This internship provides an excellent opportunity for students who might be considering taking a semester off between their studies to gain valuable research and international experiences.

PCP-PIRE is a U.S.-Panamanian partnership to document the ancient marine and terrestrial biodiversity and global climate change of the New World Tropics (NWT) preserved in the 25- million-year fossiliferous sequence in Panama, and promote international education, collaboration, and exchange. Research foci include the magnitude and timing of diversity change in the NWT; the biogeographic origins, relationships, and dispersal history of the Central American fauna and flora; antiquity of the rainforest; effects of global climate change on tropical biodiversity through time; and other fundamental questions related to the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama and its past on biodiversity.

PCP-PIRE is committed to diversity in education and encourages the application of women and underrepresented minorities.

PCP-PIRE internships include:

  1. $1,000 monthly stipend.
  2. Dorm style housing in Panama.
  3. Relocation to/from Panama.
  4. Travel to Panamanian field sites.



  1. Answer the following questions and submit via email in PDF format.
  2. Letters of recommendation should also be submitted via email in PDF format, and must come directly from the person who is recommending you.
  3. Please do not send any of the above documents as a hard copy (only email).
  4. All documents should be sent to Cristina Robins:

Application Questions:

Tip: copy and paste these questions into a Word document. When you are done with your answers, save as PDF.

    • Summer 2015
  1. Name
  2. Contact email and phone number
  3. Are you a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident?
  4. Do you have a valid U.S. passport? Please include passport issued and expiration dates.
  5. List degrees earned and current degree status, including school names, majors, and minors.
  6. GPA for each degree received?
  7. Spanish competency level Conversation:
    • None
    • Beginning
    • Intermediate
    • Advanced (fluent)
  8. Spanish competency level Reading and Writing:
    • None
    • Beginning
    • Intermediate
    • Advanced (fluent)
  9. How many semesters/classes of Spanish have you completed?
  10. Describe previous field experience (up to 1 paragraph).
  11. Describe what you would like to learn or gain from a PCP-PIRE internship in the context of your career goals (up to 2 paragraphs).
  12. Which scientific goal(s) of PCP-PIRE, as described on the website, is/are the most appealing to you and why (up to 1 paragraph)?
  13. Which of the education and outreach goal(s) of PCP-PIRE, as described on the website, is/are the most appealing to you and why (up to 1 paragraph)?
  14. Briefly describe any experience working in international settings or with international students or colleagues (up to 1 paragraph).
  15. Do you have health insurance that would be active and will cover you abroad during your time in Panama?
  16. Do you have any dietary restrictions or special accommodations that we should know about during the internship?
  17. One recommendation letter from a current or former faculty member or supervisor (PDF format, sent directly to Cristina Robins).
  18. Please list contact information (e-mail and phone) for 2 additional references.
  19. I have read all Frequently Asked Questions ______ (initials)