Who can become a WRI intern?

Intern applications are solicited from any Cornell University undergraduate or graduate student. 

How is the program structured?

Summer internships last for approximately ten weeks. At the beginning of each summer session, WRI staff develop a set of potential projects complete with background reference material, initial research tasks, and possible research outcomes, such as posters or reports. Interns are asked to select several projects that interest them. Subsequently, WRI staff assign each intern a primary project for which they will be most responsible throughout the summer. Staff consider the match between intern skills/classwork and project needs, as well as intern interest in project topics. Secondary projects are also assigned to give interns exposure to other water resource issues, and to encourage dialogue and cooperation. One student’s primary project may be another student’s secondary project. Additional internships may be supported throughout the year as funding and projects needs arise.

WRI staff members are identified as project leads, and each intern meets with their corresponding staff member at least once a week to discuss progress and questions. In some cases, Cornell and external faculty can also act as advisors and project leaders. A weekly group meeting is held with all interns to encourage critique and discussion, and to provide a venue for interns to present and refine their communication skills. When appropriate, smaller groups may also meet weekly if several projects fall within a broad theme.

Throughout the summer session, WRI staff organize a series (three to five) of field trips that are meant to highlight important aspects of water resources. Examples include trips to:

  • Cornell University water filtration facility
  • Cornell University Lake Source Cooling & hydroelectric facilities
  • Onondaga County Save the Rain stormwater management project
  • Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility (IAWWTF)
  • Cayuga Lake floating classroom

What is the outcome?

WRI interns appear as co-authors on peer-reviewed publications, professional papers, conference talks and posters. WRI maintains contact with alumni as they pursue their professional and academic careers with the goal of developing a peer group with broad water resource interests.

Want to learn more about a past intern project?

Please contact Brian Rahm at bgr4 [at] cornell.edu or call (607) 254-7163.