Smithsonian UK Internships 2018

The Smithsonian UK Charitable Trust is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Pembroke College students to take part in three internships at its Mpala Research Centre in Kenya. The deadline for applications is 20th February 2018.

The Mpala Research Centre was established in 1991 on the 48,000-acre Mpala Wildlife Foundation property on the Laikipa plateau in north central Kenya. Mpala represents a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution, Princeton University, the Kenya Wildlife Service, and the National Museums of Kenya to create a site for multidisciplinary research and training in Africa. Since its inception, Mpala has hosted hundreds of students, educators, and scientists annually from around the globe, conducting research on topics ranging from parasites to elephants. Mpala is now recognized as a central hub for research in East Africa and is home to a variety of threatened and endangered plants and animals, including the Grevy zebra and reticulated giraffe.

Who is eligible?

The internships are open to all undergraduate students studying at Pembroke College Oxford during the academic year 2017-2018, including finalists.The successful applicants will be based at the Mpala Research Centre for 8 to 12 weeks (June – September 2018), with specific dates arranged with the project leader. Non-finalists are advised to attend for no longer than 8 weeks to prevent disruption to their studies. Interns are expected to be available for 40 hours per week, with some work on weekends. They will also be expected to produce a report following an internship, which may be published on the Mpala, Smithsonian UK, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and/or Pembroke College websites.

What are the internships?

1) Spatial Ecology of the Laikipia Plains: Interns will learn by working with a research scientist from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and be involved in research focused on mapping and quantifying land use/land cover dynamics and their consequences for biodiversity and wildlife at the Mpala Research Centre and surrounding lands. They will have opportunities to learn about analysis of satellite imagery for land use/land cover mapping; conducting data collection to ground-truth satellite maps;compiling field data on wildlife occurrence, livestock, and human activities; entering observation data for analysis in a Geographic Information System. (Contact: Dr. Jared Stabach,

2) One Health Program: Interns will learn by working with the Smithsonian Global Health Program veterinary fellows and/or other GHP staff and collaborators on projects relating to human, wildlife, and/or domestic animal health in the Laikipia region. They will have opportunities to learn about field- and/or lab-based components of pathogen surveillance (human, animal, arthropod), assistance with animal capture and sampling, outreach for local communities, help with training activities or workshops, literature reviews, and data entry and analysis (Contact: Dr. Krista Jones,

3) Mpala Research Centre Communities and Conservation programme: Interns will learn by being involved with the MRC’s work on the intersection of wildlife-livestock-agriculture issues in the Laikipia region. They will have opportunities to learn about collecting and collating basic field data, running basic surveys with farmers and herders, collection and observation of data, including on pollinators, pests and species interactions. (Contact: Dr. Dino J. Martins,

Applicants are encouraged to contact the lead scientists listed above for more information or questions about the projects. 

What is covered?

The internship award of up to £6000 will cover travel to/from Mpala; accommodation and full board at Mpala; permits and associated administration; transport, fuel, insurance; and the help of an Mpala research assistant. The intern will also receive a weekly stipend of £100 to cover additional personal expenses.

How do I apply?

To apply, you can use the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System - SOLAA - at the following link:
1) Login to your SOLAA Account or create one (if you don’t have an account already)
2) Click “Add New Application” at the top
3) Program Type: Choose Internship
4) Office/Museum/Research Center: Choose Office of Fellowships
5) Select: Smithsonian UK Charitable Trust - Mpala Research Centre Internship Programme
6) Add New Application

Applications should specify the project of interest and include:
A) A concise written description of what the student hopes to learn during the internship. The
description should include how the internship relates to his or her academic and life interests/goals, why the student is applying for the Smithsonian sponsored internship, and what does he or she find interesting about the Mpala Research Centre and Kenya. [1 page maximum].
B) Past and present academic history and other experiences that the student feels have prepared him or her for the internship.
C) A letter of reference from the student’s college tutor.


Additional information about Mpala can be found at If you have any further questions feel free to contact Kirstie Smith in the Academic Office at