Job Opportunity

Smithsonian Forest Ecology Internships

Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) is offering five paid internships in forest ecology from spring to fall 2023. Interns will work on a team conducting the 2023 census of the Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) plot at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute outside of Front Royal, VA. Interns will be mentored by plot principal investigators Dr. William McShea and Dr. Kristina Anderson-Teixeira. The team will inventory all woody plants within a large (25.6 ha) forest dynamics plot, including species identification and mapping, while helping to pioneer a new system of data collection and management techniques using tablets and a system of automated quality control. Interns will gain skills in forest ecology and data management, and will be invited to coauthor at least one publication arising from the census. These internships are ideal for recent college graduates who wish to gain research experience prior to pursuing graduate studies or other forest-related career opportunities.


Applicants should be planning or exploring a career in forest ecology, botany, conservation biology, or a related field. They should possess or be close to completing an undergraduate degree or be close to completing an undergraduate degree in a relevant ecological field, and will generally be within five years of graduation. Interns should be enthusiastic to learn forest census techniques and to work outdoors in a forest setting. They must be reliable, dedicated, organized, and able to accurately follow specified protocols and reliably record and manage scientific data. Prior experience with forest census and/or knowledge of plant species common to the eastern U.S./mid-Atlantic will be advantageous, but is not required. Applicants should have the ability to hike for long periods of time and in a variety of weather conditions and be comfortable with long periods of outdoor work. Applicants must demonstrate ability to work well as part of a diverse team. Interns must be US citizens/permanent residents or have a visa status that allows them to stay as an intern (i.e., foreign nationals are welcome, but we will not be able to arrange visas). We are committed to diversity in science, and especially welcome applications from women and minoritized groups.


Internships will begin in spring 2023 (April or May) and last into the fall (September or October). This position is not appropriate for a student that has to return to classroom in fall.


Field work will be conducted at NZCBI's Front Royal Campus (1500 Remount Rd; Front Royal, VA), located at the northern end of Shenandoah National Park and ~1.5 hours from Washington D.C. NZCBI has an active staff of researchers working on a wide range of subjects from ecology to conservation breeding and genetics, and interns will interact with these researchers and attend regular seminars. The ForestGEO plot is located on the NZCBI campus, a short drive from the central facilities, including offices, labs, classroom buildings, dorms, a cafeteria, and a gym. Facility is located in a rural area with no public transportation options.

Housing & Stipend

Interns will be paid a stipend of $1800/mo. Limited on-campus housing is available and may be provided at no cost to interns (pending availability).

How to Apply

To apply, please send a single PDF file containing (1) a brief (≤1 p.) cover letter summarizing relevent experience, how you envision that the internship would benefit your career, and how your presence would help to make the discipline more diverse and inclusive; (2) a CV or resume, and (3) contact information for three references to Dr. William McShea at in an email entitled “SCBI intern application”.

Review of applications will begin November 21, 2022.

The full ad for this position will be posted at Answers to all questions received from potential applicants (anonymized) will be posted to that page.

Job Locations: 
Front Royal, Virginia, USA