A paid summer research internship for undergraduates and recent graduates from July 8 – August 16.

Application deadline: April 26, 2019

The Mesocarnivore Summer Research Program is a six-week paid research internship at La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (LBTPM) in Los Angeles, California in summer 2019. The natural-history collections at this museum—known for its rich Pleistocene to Holocene fossils—offer a unique window into critical issues currently facing society, such as global threats to biodiversity and responses of organisms to large-scale disturbance.

The program will train a cohort of four students in biodiversity research under the mentorship of Dr. Mairin Balisi, a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow at LBTPM and the University of California at Merced, to study the paleoecology of “mesocarnivores”, or small- to medium-sized mammalian carnivores, before and after the megafaunal extinctions and climatic transitions at the end of the last Ice Age.

Interested in applying? Read on!


The program will bring four undergraduates and/or recent graduates to La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (LBTPM), a department of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM), for a six-week research experience. Participants will work closely with Dr. Mairin Balisi on a research project integrating various aspects of comparative biology, including conservation biology, paleontology, phylogenetics and taxonomy, and vertebrate morphology. Students will study biodiversity through the lens of LBTPM’s abundant paleobiological collections as well as the LACM’s world-class natural-history collections, learning analytical techniques relevant to the project.

The research project seeks to quantify how small- to medium-sized mammalian carnivores—mesocarnivores—have responded to large-scale ecological and environmental changes at the end of the last Ice Age in southern California. The program begins with two weeks of an intensive morphology workshop, during which students will collect initial measurements and practice gathering data before visiting the LACM Mammalogy collections to build a comparative dataset of extant mesocarnivores.

In addition to the research project, interns will participate in a museum-based curriculum comprising lectures and lab exercises on biodiversity, evolutionary biology, global change, systematics, and other issues in the natural sciences. Other activities include collections tours, career-building workshops on networking and scientific writing, and time in exhibit spaces directly communicating with the public.

At the end of the program, students will disseminate their results to the LBTPM community in a research symposium and will prepare a collaborative “mesocarnivore monograph” for publication. Further, after the internship, participants will be encouraged to attend a scientific meeting to present their findings to a wider audience.

LBTPM is located in Hancock Park in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. The program will run part-time (29.5 hours / week) for six weeks, from July 8 to August 16, 2019. One week of the program will be at LACM, with the remainder at LBTPM.


Participants will receive an hourly rate of $15.00.

Who Should Apply?

The program aims to provide equal opportunity in biodiversity research and to train a new generation of creative natural-history scientists who represent diverse perspectives. Therefore, previous research experience is not required; excellent grades and extracurriculars will be considered positively but are not the only selection criteria. As part of a commitment to broaden participation in STEM fields, we especially encourage applications from current students at and recent graduates from community colleges, undergraduate-only institutions, and minority-serving institutions in the Greater Los Angeles area and the Central Valley of California.


The application period is now closed. We will notify all applicants of their final status in the week starting May 27.