Norris Center Internships

Norris Center Internships Available Now

All internships are available for 2 units (6 hours per week). We can offer internships for 5 units (12 hours per week), if you have already completed an internship with the Norris Center in the past. If you're interested in an internship, email with which internship you are interested in, why, and a screenshot of your class schedule for the quarter. 

Internships for COVID Times (Spring 2021)

1) Senior internships and senior theses. Got a research idea that you want to try out? Got a favorite organism that you want to learn more about? Contact us to set up a two-quarter-long (5 units each quarter) project.

2) Imaging natural history collections. Natural history collections all over the world, including the Norris Center, need your help making our collections searchable on the internet. Digitization helps our specimens be used by scientists all over the world. In this internship you will attend weekly meetings with researchers from the Cal Poly SLO herbarium on Tuesdays from 10AM - 12PM. There, you will help transcribe herbarium labels, and assign latitude and longitudes to specimens (georeferencing). You will also come into the Norris Center (following COVID safety protocols, of course) to help image specimens and upload images of the specimens to our online database. If you are new to the internship, you must be able to make the 10AM - 12PM Cal Poly meeting on Tuesday

3) Exploring fire-stimulated natural history for community science in Santa Cruz.
Fire is a transformative disturbance on the landscape and within ecosystems. California has a legacy of fire disturbances, but recent fire suppression policies have contributed to larger, uncontrollable wildland fires. These fires are expected to have a greater return frequency with future climate change. Much more work is still needed to learn about what the natural history of organisms that follow fire. During this internship we will work with the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History on their new community science project to help curate and provide information for their upcoming fire-stimulated community science project using iNaturalist. We will also work in partnership with California Native Plant Society (CNPS) to create identification guides of seedlings in Redwood forests to aid with long-term fire monitoring efforts within nearby state parks.


Past Internships for not currently offered

lots of halticid bees

1) Randy Morgan Insect Collection Internship: Interns will work to digitize Randy Morgan's prolific insect collection. Interns will help photograph insect specimens, add collected insects to online databases, and troubleshoot problematic insect collections. Skills gained will include museum collection curation, online databasing, data entry, and insect identification.

2) Bird Taxidermy Internship: Interns will work to turn dead, salvaged birds into scientific museum study skins. Following detailed taxidermy instructions, students will skin and prepare birds to be used by researchers and classes at the Norris Center. Skills gained will include bird identification, bird morphology, museum collection curation and taxidermy.

small-mammal-crew-with-racer.jpeg3) UC Natural Reserve Resurvey Project: Interns will help with an ongoing resurvey at Fort Ord Natural Reserve. The purpose of the resurvey project is to document, with vouchered museum specimens, every single species that currently occurs on the reserves -- from bryophytes to birds!  In Interns will begin conducting field work to capture, create specimens of, and accession to the museum, every species found at Fort Ord, including a mandatory camping trip. Students can choose one of the following taxon groups to join: mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, insects, fungi, bryophytes and lichens, plants or non-insect invertebrates. Skills gained include helping field surveys, general field work, species identification, natural history, museum curation, and museum accessioning. No previous experience with the taxon group is necessary -- just the strong desire to learn! See here for another summary and current results. 

4) Collections Management Internship: Interns will help keep the Norris Center collections working smoothly. Projects include pest management, organizing specimens, databasing specimens, digitizing specimen collections, and working to inventory existing specimens. Skills gained include strong museum curation skills, taxonomic knowledge of any group of organisms, and online databasing.

calachortus luteus5) Norris Center Herbarium Internship: Interns will help accession and digitize plant specimens from around the Central Coast of California. In addition to helping press, mount and label regional speciemens (including new species!), students will help scan images and score phenology for an ongoing plant phenology project at the Norris Center. Skills gained include plant taxonomy, herbarium organization and curation, plant morphology and online databasing.


6) Summarizing the racist and anti-racist past of natural history collections. Interns will work with Norris Center staff to gain an understanding of the past of natural history globally, specifically in the context of European colonialism and its legacy in the field. Themes that will be explored through readings and videos include racist, colonialist, imperialist, and/or anti-racist, anti-colonialist, and anti-imperialist actions in the collection and curation of natural history collections and exhibits. Interns will also learn about the role of race and racism in the contemporary field of natural history and will be introduced to learning about the Amah Mutsun tribe whose land UCSC occupies. Simultaneously, interns will work with peer leaders and Norris Center staff on projects that aim to decolonize the Norris Center and the environmental studies department. Through this internship, students will gain skills in project management, diversity, equity, and inclusion work, and decolonizing academic and professional environments. By the end of the quarter, interns will have produced tangible projects that bring the Norris Center closer to decolonizing and recontextualizing its collections. Past projects have included brochures for Norris Center visitors with information on the Amah Mutsun tribe and the DEI work being done at the center and the creation of DEI surveys to further develop efforts.