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Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Young Scientist Opportunity

PYSO internships offer professional scientific research experience and formal training opportunities for undergraduate college students.


2024 UPDATES: For 2024, PIFSC leadership has made the decision to supplement PYSO internship efforts with the Inclusive NOAA Fisheries Internship Program (IN FISH). We encourage undergraduate students to apply to both of these programs for summer 2024 opportunities at PIFSC. There will be two undergraduate internships offered for students in the Pacific Islands region via the IN FISH program. The IN FISH application deadline is February 10, 2024.

This year, we have also combined the PYSO program with the PIFSC Hōkūala Kīkaha Kai Internship Opportunity. Two additional undergraduate internships will be offered via the PYSO/Hōkūala Kīkaha Kai program. The PYSO/Hōkūala Kīkaha Kai application deadline is February 29, 2024, application information can be found below.

The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Young Scientist Opportunity (PYSO) is a collaborative program with the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. This program offers professional experience in scientific research and formal training opportunities tailored toward participants’ educational and professional goals and interests. The program is focused on recruiting, advising, and mentoring college students from populations who have been historically excluded from the sciences and are underrepresented in environmental research and management professions.

PYSO gives participants the opportunity to work under the guidance of staff at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center who will provide one-on-one mentoring. Participants will gain valuable experience contributing to the Center's mission to preserve the Pacific Islands region's marine resources.

Participants will work on a project that draws from a variety of topics focused on fish ecology, protected species, oceanography, fishery economics, stock assessment, coral reef ecology, ecosystem studies, climate studies, marine ecology, environmental monitoring, or social sciences. One participant will be selected for each project: Research Projects for Summer 2024.

Program Benefits

The PYSO provides each participant:

  • An in-depth perspective on how NOAA Fisheries and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research serve the Pacific Islands communities and the nation;
  • The opportunity to acquire specialized skills needed to pursue their professional goals and aspirations;
  • The opportunity for hands-on research experience in their field of study;
  • The opportunity to build relationships with professionals in their field of study.

PYSO also benefits the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research by facilitating staff development of leadership skills, teaching, and mentoring; building productive relationships with academic partners and institutions; and preparing a diverse skilled labor force for potential future hire.

Program Components

PYSO is a 10-12 week, paid summer internship that combines on-the-job training, mentoring, and scientific research experience. No additional travel or housing funding is provided. New internship research projects are developed every year.

Program components include the following:

  • Performance plans to establish goals and timelines for the participant's work assignments with mentors;
  • Periodic meetings between participants and mentors to check on progress, including a mid-point review and final review;
  • Staff activities which include all-hands meetings, division meetings, training, intern networking opportunities, and other special activities;
  • Final presentation to present work and accomplishments at an intern symposium for NOAA staff at the end of the summer;
  • Program evaluation to provide feedback that will help improve the structure of the program.

Participant Eligibility Requirements

  • United States citizens, nationals, and lawful permanent residents. Employer-sponsored/petitioned work visas/employment authorizations cannot be provided; we are not able to accept applications from students on visas.
  • Full-time status as a degree-seeking undergraduate student who has earned no fewer than 24 credit hours earned at an accredited college or university, and who will not be graduating until after fall quarter/semester following the internship (sophomores, juniors, and non-graduating seniors).
  • Cumulative and semester/quarter GPA of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 scale) in all completed undergraduate courses and in the major field of study.
  • Majoring in a discipline or study area related to marine or atmospheric science, research, technology, or education, and supportive of NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research programs and mission (including, but not limited to: biological, social or physical sciences; mathematics; engineering; computer and information sciences; education and outreach; and communications).
  • Ability to pass security clearance (upon selection) to work in a federal facility including fingerprinting and background check.
  • Ability to participate for the entire duration of the internship. Internship durations are 10–12 continuous weeks, with flexible start and end dates to be determined after acceptance into the program based on mentor availability and intern school schedule.
  • Residing in Hawaiʻi for the duration of internship. Based on Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research hiring guidelines, the selected interns in 2024 will need to physically reside in Hawaiʻi for the duration of the PYSO internship.

Project Qualifications

The selected intern for each project will receive training and guidance from PIFSC mentors throughout the internship. The qualifications listed under each project description are not required in order to submit an application. However, candidates with these interests or skills will be more competitive in the applicant pool.

Application Instructions

Prospective participants are required to submit the following materials via email to pifsc.pyso@noaa.gov by February 29, 2024. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The application should be a single PDF file attached to an email with the following items in this order:

1. Cover sheet.

2. Statement of interest describing applicant's experience, research interests, and goals with specific reference to a research project listed on the PYSO Projects page. This statement should also articulate the applicant’s commitment to the resources of the Pacific Islands region.

3. Resume.

4. Academic transcripts (reflecting student status at time of application; unofficial copies accepted). Please make sure the transcripts do not include your social security number or date of birth.

5. Letter of recommendation from a professor (if preferred, this can be transmitted directly by email from the professor, but the name of the applicant must be in the subject line of the email).

Applications that include a social security number or date of birth will be deleted immediately.

Questions? Please contact pifsc.pyso@noaa.gov.