Research Internships

Undergraduate and high school summer 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 is right for you. Currently we offer positions to outstanding students interested in plant genome research, bioinformatics and science communications. 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.

Bioinformatics Internship (NSF REU)

At BTI, molecular biologists and computer scientists are working together at the forefront of biological discovery to solve real world problems. With novel technologies, researchers can now access entire genome sequences, and the details of the proteome, transcriptome, and metabolome of many organisms, to better understand biological systems and interactions. Though information-rich, the size and complexity of these data sets pose new challenges for scientists and society. The growing field of bioinformatics addresses these challenges. Bioinformatics interns will focus on data analysis and developing computational tools and resources to store, analyze, and integrate large-scale “omics” data sets. The program offers a unique training in genome research, computer programming, and systems biology. Students applying for these internships should have some prior experience with computer programming, biology, and a demonstrated interest in the subject. Interested undergraduate students should apply through the Plant Genome Research Program application link.

High School Internship

Local high school students, who are at least sixteen years of age by the start of the program, are eligible to apply for a seven-week internship. Housing is not provided for high school students, and students must provide their own transportation to and from BTI each day. High school interns receive stipends, but are not provided housing, travel, or meal allowances. High school interns are supported by the generosity of local donors. Graduating local high school seniors, who are at least eighteen years of age and are enrolled in an undergraduate institution in the fall, should still apply to the high school program, as the undergraduate internship program dates often conflict with high school course dates. If you are unsure which program to apply to, please feel free to contact us.

Plant Genome Research Program Internship (NSF REU & USDA REEU)

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. More information can be found under Program Info (& FAQ) page.

Technology Transfer Internship

Boyce Thompson Institute is hiring a Technology Transfer Intern to participate in the 2020 Summer Internship Program. This individual would spend 10 weeks at BTI and Cornell with the Plant Genome Research Program undergraduate interns, and be paired with a mentor from BTI’s Technology Transfer Office. The student selected for this internship will learn about all aspects of the technology transfer process (patents and patent portfolio management, technology marketing, negotiating agreements and licenses, business development, and entrepreneurship as it relates to research-based startup companies) while exploring career paths related to the field of technology transfer. In addition to gaining practical experience in the daily operations of a technology transfer office, this individual will have the opportunity to meet with professionals working in a variety of technology transfer roles, including patent attorneys, scientists, licensing officers, entrepreneurs, and more. Finally, during their internship, the student will work with their mentor to develop and complete a related project which they will present at the 2020 George and Helen Kohut Summer Symposium. The opportunity will be open to a current undergraduate or a senior graduating spring 2020, who shows an interest in exploring a career path related to technology transfer (i.e. the patent process, patent portfolio management, technology marketing, licensing, business development, entrepreneurship, and/or research-based startup companies). Preference will be given to students studying life sciences. Interested students should select apply now and select the Tech Transfer Internship button.

Internship Spotlights

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

Joshua Judkins

In 2008, Josh Judkins started at BTI as a REU summer intern in Professor and BTI President David Stern’s laboratory. Jump ahead to 2014 and Josh is graduating from Cornell University with his PhD and is the lead author of a paper titled,  “A Photocleavable Masked Nuclear-Receptor Ligand Enables Temporal Control of C. elegans Development,” earned while working with BTI faculty member Dr. Frank Schroeder, and has moved to Boston, where he will be working as a postdoctoral scientist at Pfizer Neuroscience. Joshua Judkins, a former BTI intern, then a member of Stern and Schroeder labs at BTI as a Cornell undergrad and graduate student, now working for Pfizer Neuroscience.

Grace Yu

Grace studied in Ireland at University College Dublin while an undergrad, and blogged about her adventures there, including how she started trampolining and kite flying. She studied lots of biology while in Ireland including crop sciences as applied in agriculture and hopes to complete a graduate degree in the next couple years that will combine her love for the natural and academic worlds. Grace Yu, former BTI intern with Professor Susan McCouch, has just finished her undergraduate degree at University California, Irvine.

James Eaglesham

From the Cornell Chronicle: ”James Eaglesham, a biology major with a concentration in microbiology who is set to graduate from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences this May, is heading to Cambridge University as Cornell’s newest Churchill scholar.… Eaglesham conducts honors thesis research at the Baker Institute for Animal Health in the laboratory of Associate Professor John S.L. Parker. In 2013 and 2014, he worked as a summer fellow at the National Institutes of Health. While attending Ithaca High School, he interned at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research.” James Eaglesham was a BTI intern in Maria Harrison’s lab in 2010.

Felix Fernandez-Penny

“I probably would have found my way to plants and plant science without BTI, but it may have been through a completely different path,” said Fernandez-Penny. “Having the exposure to fundamental research through the internship and doing lab work just convinced me that this is what I want to do. This is what I really enjoy.” Felix Fernandez-Penny began at BTI as a high school intern and now is a Cornell undergraduate and member of Jander Lab.
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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 local donors including the Ithaca Garden Club, the Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County, and the Tompkins Charitable Gift Fund.



Boyce Thompson Institute
533 Tower Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14853