Boots on the Ground: Internships in Panama, 2015

Geology and Paleontology of the Panama Canal

Funding flyer header


Deadline to apply: 5PM EDT on July 10, 2015

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

Interns will live in Panama for 11 months (September 2015 – July 31, 2016) 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 year 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. $1,250 monthly stipend.
  2. Relocation to/from Panama.
  3. Travel to Panamanian field sites from STRI.

*Note: Interns must secure their own housing and daily transportation to STRI.


Instructions for Application:

  1. New applicants: Answer the following questions and submit via email in PDF format. 

Previous PCP PIRE interns: In lieu of questions 10 – 14, describe your past accomplishments as an intern, how the experience has impacted you, and why you would like to return to the (longer duration) PCP PIRE internship (1 page MAX).

  1. Submit via email a CV (max 2 pages).
  2. The one required letter of recommendation should also be submitted via email in PDF format, and must come directly from the person who is recommending you.
  3. 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.

  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 issue 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)
  1. Spanish competency level Reading and Writing:
  • None
  • Beginning
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced (fluent)
  1. How many semesters/classes of Spanish have you completed?
  2. Describe previous field experience (up to 2 paragraphs).
  3. 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).
  4. 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)?
  5. 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)?
  6. Briefly describe any experience working in international settings or with international students or colleagues (up to 1 paragraph).
  7. Do you have health insurance that would be active and will cover you abroad during your time in Panama?
  8. Do you have any dietary restrictions or special accommodations that we should know about during the internship?
  9. One recommendation letter from a current or former faculty member or supervisor (PDF format, sent directly to Cristina Robins).
  10. Please list contact information (e-mail and phone) for 2 additional references.
  11. I have read all Frequently Asked Questions ______ (initials)