Undergraduate and high school summer internships at BTI, Cornell University and the USDA provide an excellent opportunity to gain research experience and explore if a scientific career is right for you. Currently we offer positions to outstanding students interested in Plant Genome Research, Bioinformatics and Bioenergy Education. Applications are accepted annually from November until the first Friday of February. Accepted students join an international community of scientists and students in the pursuit of scientific discovery, learn valuable research skills, and attend seminars and workshops to learn from leaders in these fields. Read below to find out more.
Undergraduate and high school students participate in the Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) summer internship program and learn how basic plant research can be applied to protect the environment, enhance human health, and improve agriculture. PGRP interns gain knowledge of plant genomics and scientific research by working closely with scientists, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in a laboratory setting. PGRP interns learn the latest molecular biology techniques and bioinformatics tools while working on a supervised, independent research project within the framework of the assigned laboratory’s research program.
To understand complex biological systems, interdisciplinary research teams are essential. At the BTI, plant molecular biologists and computer scientists are working together at the forefront of biological discovery to solve real world problems. Scientists trained in both fields will be leading the way, especially as research technologies continue to advance and information within massive datasets need to be unlocked to solve 21st century challenges.
With novel technologies researchers now can access entire genome sequences, and the details of the proteome, transcriptome, and metabolome to better understand biological systems and interactions. Though full of information, the size and complexity of these datasets pose new challenges for scientists and society. The growing field of bioinfor-matics addresses these challenges, by focusing on the development and application of computational methods to decode, analyze, interpret and apply useful information within these data.
Bioinformatics interns will focus on developing computational tools and resources to store, analyze and integrate large scale plant “omics” datasets. The program offers a unique interdisciplinary training in plant genome research, computer programming and systems biology. Students applying for these internships should have some prior experience with computer programming skills, biology, bioinformatics, and a demonstrated interest in the subject. These students will receive special, intensive training at the beginning of the internship and work closely with a team of scientists and postdoctoral researchers.
The Bioenergy Education Internship is for students (undergraduate through postdoctoral) interested in gaining interdisciplinary experience in scientific research and science education related to bioenergy and sustainability. Like all BTI internships, this program engages students in plant biology research, but with a focus on translating the research into resources, presentations and activities to promote public understanding of science.Bioenergy interns participate in intensive trainings, workshops, seminars and outreach activities to learn fundamental concepts in the following areas:
- Bioenergy and bioproducts from biomass
- Systems thinking and sustainability
- Environmental stewardship and policy
- Science learning and curriculum development
- Science teaching and communication
The Bioenergy Education Intern will design, pilot and produce an educational activity or resource based on their research project. Visit Education Resources to see past intern projects.
NSF REU Program Award # 1061199.
As world leaders in plant genome research, Cornell University, Boyce Thompson Institute, and the U.S. Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory are host to many outstanding research labs. These research facilities have built on Cornell’s long tradition of research in plant genetics and breeding to develop novel technologies, the application of which has sought to improve the scientific understanding of many aspects of plant biology. The research interests of the labs are quite varied, ranging from identifying disease resistance in crop plants to understanding how plants sense and respond to light. For more information about the research projects in the Plant Genome Research Program, please click on the project leaders, below.
Faculty Profiles and Intern Projects
Dr. Klaus Apel
Environmental stress response in plants
Dr. Joyce Van Eck
Biotechnological approaches in the study of gene function and crop improvement
Dr. Jeff Doyle
Molecular evolution of polyploids and genome expression in legumes
Dr. Jim Giovannoni
Ripening and lycopene accumulation in tomato
Dr. Maureen Hanson
Gene expression in plant organelles; Improving photosynthesis
Dr. Maria Harrison
The arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis and plant phosphate nutrition
Dr. Georg Jander
Genetics and biochemistry of plant-insect interactions
Dr. Dan Klessig
Signal transduction of pathogenesis related genes
Dr. Leon Kochian
Root biology of aluminum tolerance and phytoremediation of heavy metals
Dr. Greg Martin
Molecular mechanisms of disease resistance and susceptibility in tomato
Dr. Susan McCouch
Plant breeding genetics and rice genomics
Dr. Wojtek Pawlowski
Genetic regulation of chromosome behavior in meiosis and meiotic recombination
Dr. Sorina Popescu
Understanding plant signaling networks through protein microarrays and molecular system biology
Dr. Eric Richards
Epigenetics and nuclear organization
Dr. Adrienne Roeder
Plant cell division and cell identity specification
Dr. Joss Rose
Structure, function, and metabolism of plant cell walls
Dr. David Stern
Chloroplast gene expression, photosynthesis and bioenergy
Dr. Klaas van Wijk
Comparative proteome analysis of C3 and C4 leaf and chloroplast development and differentiation
Dr. Zhangjun Fei
Functional genomics of fruit flavor and nutrition pathways
Dr. Lukas Mueller
SGN bioinformatics and genomics
Director of Education and Outreach
Dr. Tom Brutnell
Ac transposon tagging and light signaling pathways in maize
Dr. Jian Hua
Environmental response in plants:Pathogens and Temperature
Dr. Ji Young Lee
Signal transduction of pathogenesis related genes
Dr. Keith Perry
The two main emphases of research in the Perry lab are research on plant viruses and the mechanism
Dr. Mike Scanlon
Plant evolution, development, and morphology
Frequently Asked Questions
- US citizens and permanent residents of the US
- Undergraduates currently enrolled in a degree program, students from small colleges, under-represented minority and first generation college students are strongly encourages to apply
- Local high school students, (housing is not provided and students, must provide their own transportation to and from BTI each day)
Undergraduates receive a competitive stipend, meal allowance, travel assistance and group housing near the Cornell campus. PGRP Undergraduate Internships are funded by the National Science Foundation, (Research Experiences for Undergraduates, REU Award #0453331). High School interns are supported by the generosity of local donors. High School interns receive stipends, but are not provided housing, travel or meal allowances.
Undergraduate interns will be provided with housing on the Cornell University campus within one mile of your working place. All undergraduate interns will be housed together in the same building and will have a roommate. Roommates will be assigned based on age and gender. * Housing is not available for High School students or interns under the age of 18 years old. High School students will be expected to arrange their own transportation to and from campus.
We do not provide meals, but we do provide meal allowances. There are many great restaurants near Cornell campus.
We have TCAT (Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit) that provides public transportation for Tompkins County, New York. Bus passes can be purchased online, or you can pay fare for each ride.
You will be notified of your acceptance via email.
Yes. You may apply again. If you are applying again, please indicate in your application that you have applied before and when you applied.
You will attend a Graduate School Workshop and Seminar with Cornell faculty, graduate students and Graduate School admissions officers. You also have an opportunity to work directly with grad students and grad faculty.
During the summer, the PGRP sponsors several events, such as our Welcome Dinner and Summer Barbecue, for everyone involved in the PGRP. Undergraduate summer interns live near Collegetown?. In Collegetown, you will find many affordable restaurants, café, and shops as well as access to the Cascadilla Gorge trail which leads to the downtown Ithaca Commons. The Ithaca Commons are home to many community events throughout the summer including live music, community dances and the Ithaca Festival. Streets are pedestrian and bike friendly and public transportation is readily available. You will find that there is a great deal to do in and around Ithaca.
- Attend weekly seminar with scientists from BTI, Cornell and the USDA
- Attend lab meetings, read and discuss recent literature related to your project
- Learn about graduate school, scientific careers and work in an international environment
- Write a research proposal, practice peer reviews, and learn the art of scientific communication
- Present your research to the other students, scientists, and mentors at our Student Summer Symposium
Dates and Deadline
Internship applications will be accepted through online submission only, beginning November 1, 2013 and ending Friday February 7, 2014.
Application materials received after the deadline will not be reviewed. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by April 1, 2014
- Undergraduate Internships: June 2, 2014 – August 8, 2014
- High School Interns June 30, 2014 – August 8, 2014
Guidelines for Submitting a Letter of Recommendation
About BTI Summer Internship Programs
BTI’s Undergraduate and high school summer internships provide excellent opportunities for students to gain hands-on research experience engage in scientific discoveries and explore future career pathways. Currently we offer internships to outstanding students interested in Plant Genome Research, Bioinformatics or Bioenergy Education. Accepted students join one of these programs and receive training from an international community of scientists, educators and students.
Successful applicants will have a genuine interest in scientific research and will have completed some introductory life science courses. An interest in plant biology is weighed heavily, as are characteristics such as enthusiasm, motivation, and the ability to work collaboratively. We do not require previous research experience, or the highest grades; rather we look for students who will take full advantage of an intensive research-based learning opportunity at BTI, Cornell University and the USDA.
Instructions for Submitting a Recommendation Letter
1. Please describe the applicant’s characteristics as they relate to the programs and student characteristics described above. Include any other information that may be helpful in evaluating the applicant.
2. Letters of recommendation should be submitted online at the BTI website. Click here to register as a recommender. There you will:
a. Register as a faculty recommender and create a username and password
b. Verify your identify with your current and complete contact information
c. Select the student you are recommending (by Last Name)
d. Upload your letter as a PDF or Word doc file only
3. Already registered? Click here to upload you Letter of Recommendation.
Letters of Recommendation must be received no later than February 7, 2014. Materials received after the deadline will not be reviewed.
Applying for a summer internship at BTI is easy. Follow the three steps below.
1. Register to apply: Create a user name and password. This will give you access to the Intern Application Form and will allow recommenders to submit letters of recommendation for you. You can access and edit your application multiple times until you hit the “Submit”button. All information is saved in real time.
2. Complete the Internship Application Form: After you register, an email will be sent to you with a link to the application. You will always need your username and password to access the application. Below is a list of materials you will need to complete the application:
a. A list of courses or experiences that qualify you for the internship.
b. An essay (5oo words max) describing your interest in the internship program you are applying to, what you hope to gain as a participant, and how the opportunity fits into your future academic and career plans.
c. Academic Transcripts (electronic copies sent from your school or a scanned copy of your official transcripts in PDF format will be accepted).
d. Current GPA.
e. A description of any research experience you have had, if any.
3. Request Two Letters of Recommendation: Two letters of recommendation need to be submitted on your behalf. Email or provide the ‘Instructions for Submitting a Letter of Recommendation’ to your recommenders as soon as possible. Faculty and teachers are concerned to be the best recommenders, but anyone that can speak to your abilities and potential can submit a letter. Note, recommenders cannot submit letters until you have registered to apply.
Be sure to hit the “Submit” button when your application is complete. This and letters of recommendation must be submitted online no later than February 7, 2014.