High School Research Internships

High school summer research internships at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), Cornell University, and the USDA provide an excellent opportunity to gain research experience and explore if a scientific career or biological major is right for you. Currently we offer positions to students interested in plant science research and computational biology and require no prior lab experience. Applications are accepted annually from November until the first Friday of March. Accepted students will join an international community of scientists in the pursuit of scientific discovery, learn valuable research skills, and attend seminars and workshops to learn from mentors in these fields.

High School Research Experience

Local/regional high school students who are at least 16 years of age by the start of the program are eligible to apply for a six-week internship program at BTI. Please carefully review the Internship Application page for eligibility and tips to apply.

Selected students will have at least one research mentor, typically consisting of a graduate student or post doctorial researcher, and one faculty mentor. These individuals will be training students as they work alongside their mentors to complete a pre-determined project appropriate for the six-week program. Every Wednesday, students will join the Undergraduate Researchers to participate in professional development lectures and discussions. They will also participate in local field trips or training (pending covid regulations). The program will culminate in a scientific symposium in August where students will present their accomplishments from the summer via a scientific poster.

Housing and meals are not provided for high school students, and students must provide their own transportation to and from BTI each day. All High School Research Interns are supported by the generosity of local donors.

Internship Spotlights

Read the stories of former Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) interns!

Emily Humphreys poses with a plant

Emily Humphreys

An Oberlin University undergraduate majoring in Biology and minoring in Rhetoric and Composition, Emily Humphreys joined BTI’s Plant Genome Research Program summer intern program in 2020. In addition to utilizing the program’s primary purpose of gaining research experience and learning about scientific careers, Emily approached the communications team to gain additional scientific writing experience on top of her regular workload. Emily wrote two press releases as well as four blog posts, deftly weaving scientific internship topics with her personal thoughts and experiences during the pandemic.

Brandon Williams stands with a plant in a growth chamber

Brandon Williams

Originally from Elmira, NY, Brandon was an undergraduate REU intern in Maria Harrison’s lab in 2017, when he studied transcription factors involved in the symbiosis between arbuscular mycorrhizae and the barrelclover plant with Penelope Lindsay as his mentor. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in biology from SUNY Cortland, he entered the Ph.D. program at Cornell, where he is working to use synthetic biology to create plants that act as biotic sensors. Brandon also spent time in the Van Eck lab in 2018-2019, during which he mentored a PGRP intern in goji berry transformation.

“Working at BTI has solidified in me a passion in conducting research driven towards helping people.”

Emmanuel Gonzalez working in a lab

Emmanuel Gonzalez

Emmanuel spent his summer in the Giovannoni Lab researching cold tolerance in tomato hybrids. Emmanuel has a strong interest in botany that intersects with his love of photography outside of the lab.

“I wanted to gain the skills to become a scientist and eventually use them to bring about good to human and plant life. My passion for plant science has greatly evolved and strengthened; this is my chosen career path.”

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Internships are funded by the National Science Foundation, Research Experiences for Undergraduates Award #1358843, individual faculty grants, and the generosity of donors including the Emerson Foundation , Ithaca Garden Club, John Ben Snow, the Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County, Rheonix, Triad Foundation Inc, Yunis Realty , and many individual donors.

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