Smithsonian UK Internships

The Smithsonian UK Charitable Trust is supporting three internships, open to all Pembroke undergraduate students, at the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya.

The internships, held over the summer 2019, focus on three broad areas of conservation science:

1) One Health Programme: Interns will learn by working directly with Dr. Maureen Kamau, a resident fellow of the One Health Veterinarian Fellowship that is run by the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Health Program and the Mpala Research Centre. Dr. Kamau works on various projects on Mpala relating to human, wildlife, and domestic animal health, focusing on taking care of the wildlife, including treating animal injuries. The intern’s tasks may include collecting data in the field, writing reports, researching grant opportunities and assisting with animal injury treatments.

2) ForestGEO Ecosystems and Climate Initiative: The Smithsonian Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) is a worldwide network of scientists and 59 forest research sites—one of which is at Mpala—dedicated to monitoring forests in an era of global change. The impact of land-use and climate change are predicted to have a profound effect on the ecosystem and the biodiversity at Mpala. The monitoring of the 150-hectre ForestGEO plot at Mpala provides short- and long-term data on the vegetation dynamics of an ecosystem that undergoes grazing by both livestock and wildlife. The intern will learn by working with a resident team of ForestGEO researchers, visiting the sites daily. Outside of the field, the intern will also assist with data entry and writing reports.

3) Stress in Elephants:  Interns will lean by working with Sandy Oduor, of Nairobi University and a National Geographic Explorer Fellow, who is currently conducting research on the hormones and behaviour of elephants in Laikipia County. The intern will help Sandy and other project researchers monitor elephants and collect dung samples in order to measure the hormone levels and better understand the sources and consequences of physiological stress in free ranging elephants. Outside the field, the intern will assist with data entry and analysis, along with writing reports.

General details

All interns will be integrated into the Mpala Research Centre’s summer interns’ programme (inc. weekend field trips and guest lectures), and receive mentoring from MRC and Smithsonian Institution scientists and fellows in residence.


The Mpala Research Centre was established in 1991 on the 48,000-acre Mpala Wildlife Foundation property on the Laikipia plateau in north central Kenya. MRC 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 Grevy zebra and reticulated giraffe. Additional information about Mpala can be found at


Internships are open to all undergraduate students of any discipline studying at Pembroke College during the 2018-2019 academic year. Students will be based at the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya for 8 weeks (from mid-July to mid-September 2019). Interns are expected to be available to work 40 hours per week, and some projects may require weekend duty.

In addition, applicants are expected to write a report following an internship, which may be published on the Mpala, Smithsonian UK, Smithsonian Institute, and Pembroke College websites.

2018 Intern reports 

Hannah Puleston (BA Biological Sciences, 2016)

Ingrid Easton (BA Biological Sciences, 2016)

Laura Hindley (BA Biological Sciences, 2015)

Costs covered by the internship

The internship award of £4500 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.


To apply, please use the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA;

Further instructions:

  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. 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:

  1. 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].
  2. Past and present academic history and other experiences that the student feels have prepared him or her for the internship.
  3. A letter of reference from the student’s college tutor.

Applications are due 27 March 2019. Awards will be announced in early April 2019.

If you have any further questions feel free to contact Blake Ewing, Smithsonian JRF, at