Available Internships

The following CONSERVE institutions have positions available for Summer 2017:

University of Arizona (Maricopa, AZ)
Project Focus: Water Quality Analysis & Outreach

University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
Project Focus: Water Quality Analysis

University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
Project Focus: Consumer Behavior & Economics

University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
Project Focus: Water Quality Analysis

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (Princess Anne, MD)
Project Focus: Water Quality Analysis

USDA Agricultural Research Service (Beltsville, MD)
Project Focus: Water Quality Analysis & Product Testing


University of Arizona

Maricopa Agricultural Center
Maricopa, AZ

CONSERVE Project Activity 4b: Educate Southwest producers on the benefits of nontraditional irrigation water sources

Position Description: The intern will work with an outgoing and collaborative group of staff, scientists, and students to collect water samples, analyze samples for microbiological parameters, interpret data, and communicate scientific findings with stakeholder across the state of AZ. The intern will also have the opportunity to learn advanced microbiological techniques and learn how to translate complex scientific information to a variety of stakeholder audiences including growers, packers, shippers, irrigation districts, and other scientists.

About the Lab: The Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC) is a 2,100-acre research farm within The College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at The University of Arizona. This research farm is located in the city of Maricopa, AZ about 90 miles north of The University of Arizona main campus in Tucson, AZ. Here, at the farm, there are about a dozen faculty members who conduct research in Agriculture related sciences like Urban and Rural Entomology, Integrated Pest Management, Ag Systems and Bio Engineering, Soil Science, Crop Science and Water Quality. The Water Quality Program housed at MAC has been conducting outreach and research for just over eight years and has reached more than 26,000 individuals. Outreach efforts for the Water Quality Program focus in teaching water quality principles and practices to watershed stewards, industry stakeholders and the general public. Research topics include food safety within irrigation water quality, surface water quality in rivers, lakes and streams, wastewater industry methods and standards and water reuse analysis and regulation. The Water Quality Program Lab is a microbiology-based laboratory that performs field and lab water sample collection and analysis using current high quality microbiological techniques in both cultural and molecular science.


University of Delaware

Newark, DE

CONSERVE Project Activity 1b: Characterize the chemical, microbial and physical quality of nontraditional irrigation water sources using cutting-edge analytical techniques

Position Description: The intern will aid in the collection and distribution of large water samples collected in the lower counties of Delaware.  Along with assisting in the collection of large amounts of water from field sites, the student will utilize microbiological and molecular biology tools for the detection of viruses and protozoa from water samples. Work will also involve statistical analysis along with both written and oral communication of data. This intern will participate in lab meetings and other CONSERVE activities. Among those CONSERVE activities include the use of novel water filtration systems and education related to irrigation water. This student will work alongside graduate students and other undergraduates. This intern is expected to participate in lab meetings and other CONSERVE activities. Among those CONSERVE activities include use of novel water filtration systems and education related to irrigation water. Beneficial personal characteristics in an intern include ability to be flexible and a good team player as research often requires challenging circumstances and things do not always work as first planned. This position will require use of a University of Delaware van to travel to field sites, so the ability to drive will be useful.

About the Lab: Our lab is involved in curiosity-driven research addressing issues related to the microbiological quality of water. Members of the Kniel lab include post-doctoral scientists, PhD students, MS students, and undergraduate researchers. Specifically we are assessing the presence of viruses, protozoa, and pathogenic bacteria in water to determine the suitability of non-traditional water for irrigation of fruits and vegetables. Our lab is a friendly interactive high-spirited environment where learning and discussions are encouraged.


University of Delaware

Newark, DE

CONSERVE Project Activity 2a: Evaluate consumer response to food produced with nontraditional irrigation water

Position Description: Human behaviors have policy implications. In society, if we want to bring about change, we have to understand human behavior first. As experimental economists we use field and laboratory experimental techniques to gauge individual behavior. This could be as simple as asking people to make yes or no decisions concerning certain tasks. For example, “Will you eat this strawberry that has been irrigated with recycled water for $5? – Yes or No?” As experimental economists, we work to ensure that all purchase decisions have real financial outcomes for real products – just like they would be in an actual grocery store. This means that participants receive money to make these decisions and it also means that the decision itself is real – if we are asking if a participant is willing to eat a strawberry that has been irrigated with recycled water for $5, then we will have an actual strawberry that has been irrigated with recycled water that the participant can buy. The Center for Experimental & Applied Economics is looking for a CONSERVE intern who is motivated and friendly and who has an interest in studying water and food issues from an economics and behavioral science perspective. As part of this internship, the candidate will work on Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and certification, identifying produce grown with various irrigation methods, development of experiment design and decision platform, administering studies, analyzing and presenting data, and developing learning materials based on research.

About the Lab: The Center for Experimental & Applied Economics consists of a diverse team of about 30 people (undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and professors) working on a variety of research topics centered on human behavior and agrienvironmental issues. Understanding how people respond to questions and tasks given various scenarios and information sets is critical when trying to comprehend and predict how people behave in the real world. Our research helps us understand how human behavior can be influenced and altered to make better environmental and, consequently, economic decisions.


University of Maryland

College Park, MD

CONSERVE Project Activity 1b: Characterize the chemical, microbial and physical quality of nontraditional irrigation water sources using cutting-edge analytical techniques

Position Description: This position will focus on irrigation water quality. We are interested in the microbial characterization of water used for irrigation, the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes in water used for irrigation, the potential for biofilm formation in irrigation water distribution systems and the characterization of human pathogens found in irrigation water and their virulence and biofilm formation traits. The work will involve both field sampling and laboratory analysis. Methods used will include standard microbiological methods, molecular biology methods and some bioinformatics.

About the Lab: Our lab is located in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, in the Plant Science Building. We have about 800 sq. ft of lab space, two plant growth chambers, two greenhouse spaces at the Greenhouse complex, and also have at our disposal research plots located at four Research and Education Centers across the state of MD where we are able to conduct field research. Our research focuses on (1) the interaction of human pathogens with plants (fruit and vegetable crops), (2) the microbiomes of fruit and vegetable crops, (3) the effect of cropping practices on the fate and dispersal of enteric bacteria on farms, (4) agricultural water quality. 


University of Maryland, Eastern Shore


Princess Anne, MD

CONSERVE Project Activity 1b: Characterize the chemical, microbial, and physical quality of nontraditional irrigation water sources using cutting-edge analytical techniques

Position Description: The intern will work with a faculty mentor and a collaborative group of staff, scientists, and graduate and undergraduate students to collect and analyze water samples for a variety of microbial, chemical, and water quality analyses. The student will learn advanced techniques used in the analyses of microbial pathogens, potential interactions with water quality parameters, and chemical contaminants such as pharmaceuticals. The interns will further be able to work with statisticians at UMES and at USDA to interpret results, as well as senior scientists in communicating these results to stakeholders and scientists. 

About the Lab: UMES maintains several modern laboratories dedicated to microbial analyses for a variety of projects related to human, plants, animals, and water pathogens as well as food safety (fresh produce, water resources, seafood, poultry). These laboratories are equipped with state of the art instrumentation for the culture and identification of pathogens using the most current technologies. In addition, the UMES Agricultural Experiment Station maintains two 300+ acre farms. Several experiments are planned at these facilities to examine how pathogenic bacteria gain access to the food production system. In addition through a collaboration between the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Sciences and the Department of Natural Sciences a water quality laboratory is available capable of both metal and organic chemical analyses. 


USDA Agricultural Research Service

Beltsville, MD

CONSERVE Project Activity 1a: Identify, quantify, classify and map nontraditional irrigation water

Position Description: The intern will be relied upon to help sampling teams in the field collect appropriate surface and reclaimed water samples. The incumbent will also be asked to perform quantitative and qualitative microbial analysis for bacterial pathogens in irrigation and reclaimed water samples. The intern will be responsible for assisting microbial detection and confirmation of enteric pathogens recovered from water samples, and confirming culture recovery results with PCR assays. The intern will also be responsible for constructing and setting up ZVI filters in the laboratory and on the farm. This will include different filter designs with different combinations of sand and iron appropriate for different water types that are being analyzed. Overall, this position will provide exposure to environmental, food, and molecular biology techniques to the intern.

About the Lab: Our laboratory investigates a broad array of topics and issues related to the persistence and population dynamics of enteric bacterial pathogens in pre-harvest environments, including irrigation water and biological soil amendments. Our laboratory uses a variety of environmental and food microbiology methods to detect enteric pathogens (enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes) in surface and reclaimed wastewaters. We use traditional and real time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) methods to determine and confirm the presence of these pathogens in surface waters. Our work also looks at next-generation water filtration technologies, like zero-valent iron filtration (ZVI), which have been shown to reduce bacterial contamination in contaminated surface waters. Our goal is to design and evaluate a filter that can be easily implementable for small farms that may need a simple, cost-effective and efficient filtration system to comply with irrigation water standards from various regulatory and commodity group associations.