Internship Opportunities

There are a variety of internship opportunities available through the University at Albany’s Public Health program.  These internships are one of the most valuable components of the program as they enable you as a student to make connections in your area of interest, aiding in your journey on the path to a professional career.   To this end, one of the most frequently asked questions by prospective students is:  What types of internships are offered through the EHS Public Health program?  Although internship availability and project goals vary from semester to semester, below you will find some examples of recent internships that students were afforded here at the University at Albany.  

Summer 2012 EHS Internships

**Please note that these are original project descriptions – projects may have changed/evolved over the course of the internship.

1. Microbial Source Tracking in the Great Lakes 

Student: Brian House

Mentor: Ellen Braun-Howland

Project Background and Goals:

This project will assess Great Lakes beaches for sources of bacterial pollution and provide information so those sources can be remediated. The Department of Health will collaborate with local health departments to conduct sanitary survey assessments of recreational waters adjacent to public bathing beaches in the Great Lakes region. Site assessments, bacteriological sampling, and molecular detection methods will be performed to identify sources of bacterial indicator pollution at each beach. Results will be used to help direct remediation efforts to improve water quality, reduce potential bather exposure to pollution, and prevent potential illness.

2. Microbial Source Tracking in the New York City Watershed 

Student: Nancy Cowan

Mentor: Ellen Braun-Howland

Project Background and Goals:

Fecal contamination of source waters is one of the most important issues that watershed managers have to contend with. Identification of sources of fecal pollution is the initial step in successful remediation design and the protection of public health.  Using a toolbox approach, this project will discriminate human and ruminant sources of fecal contamination in the NYC watershed.      

3. Selection of Biological Specimens for Radiobioassay Analysis in Case of Nuclear Emergency

Student: Kyle Nadler

Mentor: Ilham M.

Project Background and Goals:

In case of nuclear incident, radioactive materials could be released to the environment and the public might be exposed to contamination.  To assess exposure, radiobioassay should be performed to determine the internal human burden of radioactive material, estimate doses for risk and medical management, and provide the necessary data for legal and record keeping requirements.

Radiobioassay is defined as the direct or indirect measurements of radioactive materials that enter the body through oral ingestion, inhalation, or skin.  When an intake occurs, radioactive materials could be found in the blood and excreta of the exposed person.  Rapid analysis is crucial to determine radioactive intake by exposed persons to help design appropriate medical intervention.

4. What Triggers the Development of an Autistic Brain? 

Student: Coralie Bucher

Mentor: Veronica Miller

Project Background and Goals

Autism is a developmental disorder which affects ~ 1/100 children in the US. The incidence of autism is ever increasing, and paralleled by our increasing exposure to environmental toxicants and pathogens. However there have been very few studies to determine what triggers the development of the autistic brain. Because the brainstem is particularly vulnerable during development to the infiltration of a range of toxicants and pathogens, we suspect it may be damaged in autistic children. Therefore I have obtained brainstem tissues from autistic individuals and animal models of autism to determine if brainstem neuroinflammation is a feature of autism, and if it is triggered by environmental toxicants such as mercury or pathogens such as the flu virus. The specific goal of this project is to characterize neuroinflammation in brainstem tissues, and also peripheral tissues which receive nerve fiber projection from the brainstem, such as the heart, spleen and gut to better understand if brainstem neuroinflammation is a feature and potential trigger of symptoms (such as digestive, heart rate or  inflammatory problems) in children with autism. Using animal model systems we will determine the mechanisms underscoring the development of the “autistic” brain, and compare neuropathological, protein and chemical changes in the animal models with human tissues to better understand the pathophysiology of autism.


EHS Positions Offered Summer 2012 but not filled:

5. Applying Science, Law and Policy to Protect Public Health and the Environment at the NYS Office of the Attorney General

Mentoring Agency: Environmental Protection Bureau, NYS Office of the Attorney General

Project Background and Goals

The NYSOAG science staff and our interns work on many issues related to environmental health.  These include conducting in-depth scientific research on large scale issues such as hydrofracking for shale gas, PCB removal from the Hudson River, air pollution from combusting fossil fuels, and children's health. Generally, an intern is assigned to one or two on-going projects depending on the needs of the office. These projects may include working on risk assessment, exposure assessment, data analysis and management, policy recommendations, and assisting scientific and legal staff at the Environmental Protection Bureau. As we are scientists in a law office, we work closely with our lawyers and with other lawyers and scientific professionals in regulatory agencies in New York and the federal government.

6. Environmental Health Sciences Intern

Mentor: Haider Khwaja

Project Background and Goals:

 My research interests lie in the field of Environmental Health Sciences. Active research programs include:

1) Effects of fine particulate matter on daily morbidity due to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases in urban areas;

2) Chemical characteristics of fine particles responsible for the observed health effects;

3) Exposure and health impacts related to outdoor and indoor air pollution including studies of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), diesel vehicle emission, air toxins, and indoor allergens; and

4) Water and human health issues such as drinking water quality and human health risks associated with water contaminants.

7. Institute for Health and the Environment Intern

Mentor: David Carpenter

Students could do one of three different projects in my lab.  They are as follows:

1.  Use of state and national databases (NHANES, SPARCS, vital records, birth and death registries, toxic release inventory, NYS superfund site lists, NYS air pollution monitoring stations, census, etc.) to study the incidence of disease in relation to residence near to hazardous waste sites, toxic release sites and other sources of exposure to environmental contaminants.

2. Study of health of human populations exposed to environmental contaminants.  Current projects include PCB and pesticide exposure in residents of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, the Siberian Yupik people from St. Lawrence Island Alaska, and residents of Anniston , Alabama who live near to the Monsanto plant that manufactured PCBs.  Other projects include study of air pollution and health outcomes in Karachi, Pakistan, health effects of living near to dry cleaning facilities in NYC that use PERC and contaminated drinking water and health in two slum communities in Uganda.

3. Risks vs. benefits of consuming fish and marine mammals from various sources.  The risks derive from presence of methyl mercury and persistent organic contaminants that are fat soluble.  The benefits derive from the healthy omega-3 fatty acids.  Current study focuses on fish from the Great Lakes and Akwesasne and marine mammal consumption by Alaskan Native populations.

8. Healthy Schools Network - Public Health Associate

Mentoring Agency: Healthy Schools Network

Project Background and Goals:

In 1996 Healthy Schools Network established an online Clearinghouse of fact sheets and guides to assist parents and others in recognizing children’s environmental health vulnerabilities and helping them to reduce hazards commonly found in schools that impact children’s health. In 2005, the Clearinghouse was honored to receive a US EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection Recognition Award and in 2007 a US EPA/Indoor Environments Division National Special Achievement Award for Indoor Air Quality in Schools. We periodically need to develop new or update old fact sheets and guides, to stay current in the field. Guides are typically researched online, circulated to our national and state advisers for any additions or edits, then published to the web with broadcast announcements.