The Research Department offers internships and independent study opportunities in three areas to upper level college students, recent university graduates, and graduate and veterinary students. Specific projects vary and it is important to note that most have no direct animal contact. There is no stipend available, but students can arrange to receive credit through their college or university: Typically three hours per week in the lab are required for each credit hour, although university policies vary. Internships longer than a semester in length are available by special arrangement, depending on the experience of the applicant and the needs of the department. You may apply to intern in more than one area.
Behavior research interns will collect data either “live” from the public space or from reviewing video footage. Possible projects may focus on studies of social dynamics, mother and infant interactions, activity level and use of space, as well as engagement with enrichment items. Interns are offered opportunities to use state-of-the-art computer systems and Noldus Observer XT software for recording and analyzing behavioral data as well as standard pen-and-paper data collection.
Interns may be expected to spend time on data summary and analysis, data mining, as well as literature searches and readings for the particular study. Studies of behavior are observational and do not include animal contact. Coursework in animal behavior is strongly recommended but not required, and skill using Excel is helpful. Summer internships require at least a 20-hour per week commitment.
Interns will learn about the reproductive endocrinology of many species and how hormone measures are used to help conserve endangered animals, both in zoos and in the wild. Students begin learning fecal sample extraction procedures and, if lab skills are proficient, may advance to assisting with enzyme and radioimmunoassays.
Interns are required to work two days a week (Monday through Thursday), from 9am through the early afternoon. Previous experience in basic laboratory techniques is required.
Work in reproductive science encompasses basic research on comparative reproductive systems as well as reproductive management, to enhance or control reproduction and to provide diagnostic testing and monitoring of reproductive status—for example, pregnancy or onset of puberty. Long-term reproductive management also includes cryopreservation of gametes and gonadal tissue from both males and females to extend the reproductive potential of animals into the future.
Projects focusing on reproductive physiology vary but may include opportunities to assist with gamete collection, analysis and cryopreservation, ultrasound exams or occasionally assisted reproductive technologies, such as artificial insemination. Additionally, projects involving data analysis to address questions related to reproductive management, e.g., calculations of minimum effective contraceptive dosages are also available through the AZA Reproductive Management Center, affiliated with the Research Dept.
Internships are not available every semester. Graduate students or veterinary students with an interest in contraception or theriogenology are strongly preferred, especially those with previous experience in a reproductive physiology lab or animal techniques. Undergraduate upper classmen with an interest in data analysis will be considered for AZA Reproductive Management Center projects only, but must have excellent attention to detail and Excel skills.
To apply, download a Research Department Internship Application (MS Word) and send it to:
Behavior: Eli Baskir, MS, Behavior Research Associate at Baskir@stlzoo.org
Endocrinology: Corinne Kozlowski, PhD, Endocrinologist at Kozlowski@stlzoo.org
Reproductive Sciences: Karen Bauman, MS, Laboratory Manager at Kbauman@stlzoo.org
Winter/Spring Semester: November 1
Summer: March 1
Fall Semester: July 1