DRI Research Immersion Internship 2022

DRI Research Immersion Internship 2022

Internships driven by career discovery in science, technology, and entrepreneurship

Our science and technology ecosystem thrives on diverse skills. In addition to the traditional scientific fields, skills in communications, business, public health, computing, and many more all are necessary for a bright future supported by science and innovation.

DRI truck and trailer near a prescribed fire.

scientists working in the darkThe opportunity

Science at the Desert Research Institute offers real-world, immersive opportunities to contribute to solving the STEM problems of the future.

As you consider the direction of your career, internships are a great way to discover your strengths, interests, and get paid to learn new skills to bring to your future career.

What it involves

The DRI Research Immersion Internship program is a 16-week program that involves teams of diverse students dedicated to real-world problem solving with real-world scientists. After a guided training period, interns will work closely with mentors and their team members on science, technology, and entrepreneurship-focused projects that will launch both their curiosity and their careers. Students do not have to be enrolled in a science major to apply for the program.

This program is driven by inclusive excellence and is the target audience for this program is first and second-year students in Nevada’s community and state colleges.

Scientists at DRI's Weighing Lysimeter facility in Boulder City, NV. Eligibility

  • You are curious about science, technology, engineering, or math.
  • You are dedicated to real-world problem solving with real-world scientists.
  • This program is open to students who have already completed high school who are currently enrolled at CSN, GBC, NSC, TMCC, and WNC.
  • All majors are welcome. 


This is an 8-hour per week commitment for the fall semester, up to 120 hours total. The weekly schedule will be determined by the internship mentors once students are selected.


Students can earn up to $1500 gross for their participation in the internship. The limit of hours students can work is 120.

Joshua Tree Ecology, Germination, and Seedling Survivorship

Mentor name: Tiffany Pereira, MS

Apply if you are interested in:  Conservation, ecology, desert ecosystems, native plants, Joshua Trees, seed germination, field sampling techniques, laboratory techniques, restoration ecology, data documentation and note-taking

About the project: Science on the Joshua Tree’s ability to sprout and survive is crucial to conservation. Interns working on this project will test Joshua Tree seeds in long-term storage for viability, assist to propagate seedlings, help understand symbiosis with fungi, and/or transplant seedlings. This is a hands-on internship that relies on strong attention to detail and closely following technical instructions for the success of the species.

Location: Las Vegas

Format: In-person (fieldwork required)

Schedule: Internship schedule will be set once students have been selected


Developing a water treatment prototype for fluoride removal with the Moringa plant

Mentor name: Erick Bandala, PhD

Apply if you are interested in: Drinking water quality, problem-solving, international development, environmental engineering, hands-on laboratory experience, data analysis

About the project: For problem-solving in regions of the world where clean drinking water is a challenge, interest in environmentally-friendly engineering solutions has grown. This project will use plant-based materials from Moringa oleifera to create a fully functioning prototype to efficiently remove excess fluoride from water. Interns will then deploy the prototype in the field for feasibility testing. Interns will take detailed notes on the observed operation and maintenance requirements of the technology. The students will also measure the amount of sludge/foam produced during the experiment. Apply if you are curious about the mechanics of water treatment systems and solving complex problems.

Location:  Las Vegas

Format: In-person (lab work required)

Schedule: Internship schedule will be determined once students have been selected.


Exploring the science of Urban Climates using Satellites

Mentor name: Rubab Saher, PhD

Apply if you are interested in: Computer science, urban climate, Earth observation systems, engineering (transportation, mechanical, and/or environmental), geographic information systems

About the project: Sustainability in dry, urban environments such as ours relies in part on advanced technology to help solve complex problems. Observation of the Earth’s surface from a distance, such as using satellites, is called remote sensing. Remote sensing tools can inform engineered solutions to help mitigate the impacts of climate change in urban areas. Learn how to develop a hypothesis based on existing remote sensing data and track the dynamics of temperature in urban areas on daily and seasonal cycles. Apply to this project if you are interested in geographic information systems (GIS), using remote sensing to solve environmental problems, and learning about different NASA science missions. This project requires high confidence levels with computer technology.

Location: Las Vegas (base location), Reno (satellite location)

Format: In-person (computer-based research required)

Schedule: To apply, students must be available 9am-5pm, Fridays between September 5 – December 23, 2022.


Data analysis on water services systems and their impact on communities in northern Ghana

Mentor name: Braimah Apambire, PhD

Apply if you are interested in: Decision-making with data, international capacity-building, maintenance and sustainability of water systems, water infrastructure of rural areas

About the project: Significant efforts have been made to address the lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in northern Ghana and elsewhere, and post-construction support is needed to ensure long-term sustainability of the projects. Data-driven decisions can help with this challenge. Interns will help analyze baseline data from water systems services projects in northern Ghana to assess the status of water systems and the impact they have on communities. Interns will use various statistical methods with the objective of assessing the status of the water systems, and they will develop recommendations to support a sustained water supply in the communities. Overall, the students will be involved in developing a holistic and sustainable support system for watershed and water facility management in rural communities around the world. This project will use statistical tools to look for patterns in data, and then interpret those patterns in the context of drinking water access.

Location: Statewide

Format: Virtual (computer-based research required). Students will need to use their own computer or a computer on their home campus. 

Schedule: Internship schedule will be determined once students have been selected.


Assessments of Northern Nevada’s natural hazards 

Mentor name: Steve Bacon, PhD

Apply if you are interested in: Natural hazards (e.g., earthquakes, floods, landslides, avalanches, wind), geologic hazard assessments, performing fieldwork to identify potential hazards at a given site.

About the project: Identify natural hazards and perform feasibility-level assessments related to residential homeownership or property development in the greater Reno area. Apply methods and web-based information in a Google Earth platform to identify natural hazards and perform reconnaissance-level risk assessments, similar what is performed by environmental and engineering consultants. Learn about the publicly-available environmental and geologic data that is commonly used to perform natural hazard assessments. The team will visit at least three geologic settings with unique natural hazards, for which interns may need walk up to 1-2 miles on uneven surfaces.

Location: Reno

Format: In-person (fieldwork required, walking up to 1-2 miles on uneven surfaces).

Schedule:  [TBD]


Desert ecology: Microbiology and invertebrate adaptations in extreme environments

Mentor name: Henry Sun, PhD

Apply if you are interested in: Microbiology, bacterial culture techniques, life in extreme environments, basic chemistry methods, ecosystem responses to climate change, Earth observation software, image analysis software

About the project: The extreme heat and dryness of our desert region present rich opportunities to understand ecological adaptations of many organisms, including the bacteria in our soils and western ants. In this curiosity-driven internship, students will work on two projects related to local ecology, studying the interaction between biotic and abiotic elements. Interns will use technology and lab techniques to observe cross-cutting environmental change, and to learn how to address big-picture research questions with local studies.

Location: Las Vegas 

Format: In-person (labwork and some fieldwork required).

Schedule: Internship schedule will be determined once students have been selected.