Internships in Atmospheric Science and Environmental Science

The Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES) has increasingly encouraged its undergraduate students to apply for internships with government, non-profit, or commercial entities as a way to augment aspects of “experiential” learning they receive in departmental course offerings and to gain work experience in their chosen field. Because the number of interested students may exceed the number of internships available locally in any given year, students are being advised to consider internships offered by regional or even national entities as well.

To be eligible to receive elective credit for an Internship in Atmospheric Science (ATM 490) or an Internship in Environmental Science (ENV 496), students must be juniors or seniors with an overall grade point average of 2.50 or higher. Depending on the nature of the internship, the student registers for 1-3 credits. An internship may be repeated for credit. Typically, internships begin and end during the summer, but this is not a requirement. Two DAES faculty members coordinate registration of students in ATM 490 and ENV 496. Satisfactory performance by the intern is usually determined based on feedback received from the intern’s supervisor and a report by the intern presented to the coordinator, who then assigns a grade of S for the course.

Of the students who registered for ATM 490 during the past four years, by far the largest number have interned for the National Weather Service (NWS). Duties include learning each shift NWS employees are responsible for, launching morning and evening weather balloons, working on an ongoing research project, and running a weather event simulator. “Weather Analysis and Forecasting” (ATM 211) is a prerequisite. The following are quotes from two recent students in the NWS Internship Program:

“I would recommend this internship to other students, especially those who express an interest in weather forecasting and observations, as there is a lot of valuable experience to gain from this internship opportunity.”

“All in all, this internship was an unforgettable experience. I got first-hand experience on what it is like to work for a government facility and how the National Weather Service operates as a whole. Having the ability to talk to other meteorologists, learn about their background and hear any advice they had to give was extremely helpful.”

Pictured: Stephanie Soroka at the NWS Office in Albany

A smaller number of students who registered for ATM 490 during the past four years interned with local broadcast meteorologists. “Weather Analysis and Forecasting” (ATM 211) is a prerequisite.
The following is a quote from one recent student in the Broadcast Meteorology Internship Program:

“This internship lived up to my expectations and more. I can’t begin to think of one negative experience I had this summer at my internship. Everyone I met at the station was friendly and welcoming, and seeing the potential that I have to work in that environment some day while doing what I love only excites me more for the future."

The New York State Mesonet is a network of 125 weather stations, designed, implemented, and operated by scientists at the University at Albany that will serve as the foundation of an Early Warning Severe Weather Detection network for the entire State of New York. Eight ATM and ENV students are currently working as interns in the Mesonet Operations Center on the Uptown Campus. They support field technicians, monitor and document the status of the network including communications, data quality, and site photos, and prepare the morning and evening system reports. Additionally, they work on research projects relevant to Mesonet data analysis and applications. These internships provide opportunities for students to receive training in the scientific and technical aspects of mesoscale weather measurement and are expected to continue in the future.

"The NYS Mesonet internship has been such an amazing experience. Since I began working there, I have not only been able to apply concepts and fundamental ideas from my classes but also witness the work that goes into data acquisition. Additionally, I'm confident that the as the NYS Mesonet grows I'll gain even more knowledge that will benefit me in the future as I move forward in my academic career and beyond."

Students who registered for ENV 496 from 2012-2016 and interned outside of the NYS Mesonet:

Water Craft Inspection Steward - NYS Office of Parks, Recr. & Hist. Preserv.
Greenhouse intern - The Radix Ecological Sustainability Center
Bird DNA analysis - New York State Museum
Geologic map processing - New York State Museum
Air quality research - NYSERDA
Energy Star program - NYSERDA
Solar panel installations - National Photovoltaics, Inc.
GIS and cartography work - NYS Department of Transportation
Fishery in the Mohawk River - U.S. Geological Survey
Soil and water sample processing - U.S. Geological Survey
Environmental educ. pre-K–adult - Albany Pine Bush Preserve
Environmental education - Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park
NYS wildlife rehabilitation - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Mohawk River basin program - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Wetland inventory update - Town of Berne Conservation Board
Environmental remediation - Fleming-Lee Shue, Inc.
Sustainability monitoring service - ei3 Corporation
The Produce Project - Capital District Community Gardens
Water systems inspections - Ulster County Department of Health
Application of GIS to health data - Institute for Health and the Environment
Health data acquisition - Institute for Health and the Environment

Ashley Santana describes her internship at the New York State Museum this way:

“During the course of this semester I was able to partake in a great internship opportunity. I have been fortunate enough to intern at the New York State Museum in the Department of Geological Survey. This has been an amazing and insightful experience because it involves the field of geology, which is a field I hope to work in one day. The New York State Geological Survey is a department that collects and contributes to the State’s geology research. This department proudly focuses on capturing geologic hazards in the State of New York as well as detecting mineral resources and providing the educational community, the state agencies and public with collected data.

During my time at the New York State Geological Survey I was introduced and exposed to many different projects. I had a first-hand glance at the world of geology. I was given various tasks ranging from the scanning, preservation, and data entry of various geological maps. I was also introduced to scientists and researchers who have been in the geology field for some time. We conversed about their perspective projects along with my personal interest in earth science. Most of my work consisted of working with different kinds of maps that were dated back centuries ago. For this job in particular, I would scan a map and plug it into a database so that it could be accessed by researchers worldwide. This job took up most of my time during my days there because of the massive volume of maps the museum has. Some days I was able to perform more interesting tasks such as assessing the change in rock sedimentation at drilling sites.

This opportunity has served me with an experience that will transcend into my future career. Interning here has strengthened my aspirations to work in the field of geology in the near future. I had the chance to work with professionals and was given great feedback and advice for my future endeavors in the area of geology.”

The Institute for Health and the Environment (IHE), on the University at Albany’s East Campus, is another organization where several of our ENV students have interned recently and where we expect more opportunities for interns to develop over the next several years.

Brenda van Etten describes the progress she’s made during her IHE internship this way:

“Through my internship under Pasquale Russo, I have learned the importance and application of Geographic Information Systems in a research setting. Using GIS tools is extremely useful at minimizing research time. I discovered a way to use ArcGIS to identify the 62 counties in New York State and each of their adjacent counties. I have done Excel entry data, and located various natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania. I have learned that hours of research can be completed in seconds—if one can find the appropriate tools. Through this internship I have been inspired to pursue a certificate in GIS and also developed an interest in federal regulations of carcinogenic pollutants, and the opposition of natural gas pipelines.”

Hannah Matthew describes the progress she’s made during her IHE internship this way:

“This half of the semester, I worked with Pat Russo with the health reports for Pennsylvania. I input the data from the reports into Excel for a statistician to further process to create a formula for their grant. I also went to the University Library and searched for the New York Times Index and looked through years 1972-2014 to find the sections on air pollution, EPA, OSHA, and water pollution. I scanned the documents and sent them to Pat who used it to find information for their grant.”