Education, Early Career, Outreach

Science Communication Internship

About the Program

The ASLO Science Communication Internship program was launched in 2015 to provide current or recent graduate students in the aquatic sciences with the opportunity to learn more about science communication, as a discipline and as a possible career path. ASLO Science Communication interns are mentored by ASLO Director of Communications and Science Adrienne Sponberg in the ASLO Communications Office (metropolitan Washington, D.C.).  Internships are typically for a 12-week period and come with a stipend and travel support so the intern may attend an ASLO conference.

ASLO Science Communication Interns work on a wide variety of communication projects in the areas of Policy, Education, and Public Outreach to get a first-hand look at how science is communicated to a variety of audiences.

EmilyUSASEF_th.jpgPolicy. Get a first-hand look at how policy is formulated in the U.S. during the Geosciences Congressional Visits Day and by attending hearings and topical briefings on Capitol Hill. 

Education and Outreach. Contribute to aquatic science education and outreach by participating with ASLO’s committees, the COSEE Consortium and the Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies (CASS). 

Scientific Writing and Publishing. Hone science writing skills by preparing material for ASLO’s social media channels and the L&O Bulletin. Learn about the publishing and editorial process as an issue of the L&O Bulletin is compiled and sent to press.

Each Science Communication Intern also completes a personal learning plan and a signature project within their specific area of interest.

Most interns have been funded directly by ASLO, with two interns receiving external support for their internships. If your organization is interested in sponsoring or co-sponsoring a Science Communication Internship at ASLO, please contact Adrienne Sponberg (

Eligibility and Application for the ASLO Science Communication Internship

The ASLO Science Communication internship is available to current students or individuals who have received a graduate degree in the aquatic sciences within 2 years of application. Applicants from outside the US are eligible to apply but are responsible for obtaining the appropriate (J-1) visa to work in the U.S.

Our next anticipated call for applications will be in Spring 2018 for the period of Fall 2018.

Former Interns

Kelsey Ellis – Fall 2015

Kelsey Ellis was ASLO’s first Science Communication Intern, starting in the fall of 2015 and working with ASLO through the spring of 2016. While working at ASLO, Kelsey helped write and edit articles for ASLO’s Bulletin, wrote content for the outreach section of ASLO’s new website, planned and led a “Careers Beyond Academia” panel discussion at the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting, and assisted with social media content.

Prior to her internship, Kelsey graduated with an M.S. in Marine Sciences (2015) and B.S in Environmental Science with Highest Honors (2013) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since working at ASLO, Kelsey has pursued opportunities in science communication, education, and research, including as a Research Scientist in the Marchetti Lab at UNC-Chapel Hill, Marine Biology Instructor for the Duke Talent Identification Program, and Environmental Educator with the Triangle Land Conservancy. As of fall 2017, she is assisting with communications and outreach for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Emily Tyner - Spring 2016

Emily Tyner is a PhD student in the Bootsma lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences. Following a master’s degree at UWM researching the impacts of invasive quagga mussels in Lake Michigan, Emily received a fellowship through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to conduct research on Lake Malawi, Africa. In Malawi, she collaborated with Senga Bay Fisheries Research Station scientists to study fecal contamination in nearshore waters and in the drinking water supplies of fishing villages along the lakeshore. Emily returned to the Bootsma lab to pursue a PhD focused on science communication, policy, and management. With the advisement of faculty in English and Geography, her research looks at the unquantified scientific and social impacts of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects at National Park Service sites around Lakes Michigan and Superior. In addition to research, Emily enjoys teaching a science communication course for undergraduate Engineering majors.

Emily’s internship with ASLO got off to a snowy start when the January 2016 United States blizzard hit during her drive to D.C. Following the thaw out, Emily learned about ASLO’s science communication pursuits, and those of the wider D.C. science community, through attendance at congressional hearings, budget roll out events, the AAAS Annual Meeting and public lectures, and as a participant with the Michigan delegation during Great Lakes Day on Capitol Hill. Her major focus during the internship was organizing the CASS (Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies) booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival. The booth attracted over 3,000 families, students, and teachers across three days of hands-on water themed demonstrations and experiments. The ASLO Science Communication Internship was invaluable in guiding Emily’s dissertation topic and research approach.

Zoe Aarons – Summer 2016

Hailing from Washington DC, Zoe Aarons is a junior at Bowdoin College in Maine. She is studying Earth and Oceanographic Science and Computer Science. Zoe interned for ASLO during the summer of 2016. During her internship, she compiled an educational children’s booklist on topics of oceanography and limnology. The selected books range from picture books for toddlers to short chapter books for young teens. This compilation aims to spark a passion for science in children and provide books that are both engaging and informative.

Kylla Benes – Fall 2016

Kylla Benes is a marine ecologist whose research addresses how organism and populations respond to spatial and temporal changes in their environment. Most of her work has focused on ecologically important seaweed species such as kelps and rockweeds. Her curiosity and passion for nature drove her to pursue a career in science, receiving a M.S. from California State University Northridge and a Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine. However, while working on her dissertation, Kylla’s experiences in teaching and public outreach fostered a passion for communicating science beyond the ivory tower.

As a Science Communication Intern, Kylla used her passion and knowledge of outreach to create informational content for the new ASLO website aimed at the public, write a Bulletin article on science communication, and run the first ever ASLO photo contest. She also took the opportunity to receive training in association/program management and planning, which she utilized to develop and lead a workshop on “Demystifying the Teaching Philosophy Statement for Academic Job Applications” for student and early career members at the Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Honolulu.

Britta Voss – Fall 2016

Britta Voss is an aquatic biogeochemist, and served as an ASLO Science Communication Intern in Fall 2016. As an intern, Britta organized and promoted science communication workshops for the 2017 Aquatic Sciences Meeting and expanded ASLO’s efforts at addressing sexual misconduct in the aquatic sciences. Her science communication work included drafting workshop session descriptions, creating webpages and social media posts, producing short video advertisements, and publishing meeting highlights articles for the L&O Bulletin. She also organized a workshop on bystander intervention for addressing sexual misconduct in field research and publicized ASLO’s gender equity efforts in the L&O Bulletin.

Britta’s experience with the ASLO Science Communication Internship inspired her to delve further into science communication and policy. Working with Adrienne Sponberg and fellow intern Kylla Benes, as well as experiencing the Washington, DC, policy atmosphere, reinforced her desire to transition her career towards science policy and communication. Her interest in science policy is motivated by a passion for sharing the value of science with the public and ensuring scientific research provides a service to society. In Fall 2017, she will begin a AAAS Science & Technology Policy fellowship, working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Growing up between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, Britta’s love for all things water began early. She has relished her opportunities to conduct field research, from an undergraduate research cruise to Hawaii to her graduate studies on the Fraser River in Canada, and most recently in the headwaters of the Mississippi River as a U.S. Geological Survey Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow. Britta earned her Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program in Oceanography in 2014 and her B.S. in oceanography from the University of Washington in 2009.

Lushani Nanayakkara – Spring 2017

Lushani grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka and migrated to the United States for college. She completed her undergraduate degree in Zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University and master’s in Environmental Sciences and Policy at Johns Hopkins University. She is currently finishing up her PhD at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, where she is studying both the food-web dynamics and human dimensions of prairie lakes in southern Saskatchewan, with the ultimate goal of helping to manage lakes in a more comprehensive manner.

Lushani’s primary project during the internship was to develop policy tool-kits for the United States, Canada and the European Union. As part of the internship, she received training on meeting and communicating with decision makers at the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) Congressional Visits Day (CVD) event in April 2017. She also attended the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Forum and several other policy-relevant events in the Washington DC area. A highlight of the internship for her was participating in the Science Communication Lab conducted by Brian Palermo at the Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, which included several improv exercises to help enhance communication effectiveness. She also wrote articles for the ASLO journal L&O Bulletin.

Current and Future Interns

Dervla Meegan Kumar – Fall 2017

Dervla Meegan Kumar earned a B.S. in Geological Sciences from SUNY Binghamton in 2013, and just received her M.S. in Geology and Environmental Science from the University of Pittsburgh this summer. For her Master's thesis, Dervla studied the production of organic geochemical paleotemperature proxies in a modern lacustrine environment to evaluate their validity as temperature indicators in tropical lakes.

"I have two primary goals that I aim to achieve with ASLO during the fall Science Communication Internship. The first is to learn how scientific research is processed and packaged for legislators in order to gain an understanding of the types of information that survive this filter. By learning how to communicate results in such a manner that our research can transcend out of the community and on to the desks of policymakers is crucial for ensuring that quality science is used to develop science policy. Secondly, I plan to develop tools that will enable researchers to become more engaged in the policy making process and to stay up to date with environmental policy developments. I'm looking forward to getting a new perspective on what happens to scientific research after publication!"

Sean McNally – Fall 2017

Sean McNally is a PhD student in the Marine Science and Technology in the Intercampus Marine Science (IMS) Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His past research experiences while working on his Master’s focused on the swift decline of global coral reef systems and is where he first realized the importance of communicating science to the masses. Specifically, through an interview with popular “Living on Earth” segment on Public Radio International discussing the recent 2015-2016 global coral reef bleaching event.

More recently through his PhD work Sean has been working in support of a Statewide Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative (MSI) to responsibly expand shellfish resources in Massachusetts, with the goal of maximizing the economic, environmental, and social benefits of shellfish in the State of Massachusetts.

It was through his experiences in coral reef ecology and working to support the MSI that he gained a new appreciation of how important communication of science is when trying to solve an actual problem in society.

"I quickly realized that there is much more to science in today’s world than simply conducting experimental research and publishing papers. Personally, I think that science is equally about conducting the research and communicating the process and results to peers, the community, and fellow citizens in an effective way."

Madelyn Mette – Spring 2018

"I received a B.A. in Geology from Macalester College in 2010 and plan to complete my Ph.D. in Geology and Environmental Science by December, 2017. My research uses physical and geochemcial proxies from long-lived marine bivalves to better understand Late Holocene Climate variability.

"My goals during my time with ASLO include developing materials that help young scientists, citizens, and policy-makers approach formal scientific literature with optimism, curiosity, and confidence. I hope to communicate effective strategies for searching for, accessing, and understanding formal scientific language to improve scientific literacy among non-technical audiences."