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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.


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 Hawai‘i at Mānoa. This program offers professional scientific research experience and formal training opportunities for qualified participants tailored to meet their educational and professional goals and interests.

The Young Scientists Opportunity enables participants to work under the guidance of talented staff at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center who will provide challenging work opportunities and one-on-one mentoring in the participant's field of study.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with a mentor on a project that draws from a variety of topics including fish ecology, protected species, oceanography, fishery economics, stock assessment, coral reef ecology, ecosystem studies, climate studies, marine ecology, environmental monitoring, and social sciences. One participant will be selected for each project: Research Projects for Summer 2022.

Program Benefits

The Young Scientist Opportunity will provide each participant with the following:

  • An in-depth perspective on how NOAA Fisheries and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research serve the community and the nation as a whole.
  • The opportunity to acquire specific 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.

The Young Scientists Opportunity will also benefit the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research by facilitating staff development of skills in leadership, teaching, and coaching and by building productive relationships with academic partners and institutions.

Program Components

The Young Scientist Opportunity is a paid summer internship (8–12 weeks) 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 including all-hands meetings, division meetings, trainings, 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 will not be provided.
  • 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 Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research programs and mission (for example, biological, social or physical sciences; mathematics; engineering; computer and information sciences; and teacher education).
  • Ability to obtain 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.
  • Currently residing in Hawaiʻi. Based on the 2021 CIMAR temporary hiring guidelines under COVID-19, the selected intern in 2022 will need to physically reside in Hawaiʻi at the time of the PYSO internship.

Project Qualifications

The selected intern for each project will receive training and guidance from 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.

Plan for Virtual Internships

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our ability to conduct research activities. We will conduct the internship program virtually, maintaining all elements of the projects that allow for limited or no contact. Interns will still meet regularly with mentors and research teams in the virtual environment. If COVID-19 restrictions to onsite work change by summer of 2022, it may be possible to engage in some non-virtual work if we meet all of the requirements dictated by the managing organizations. Note that this will vary by project. 

Application Instructions

Prospective participants are required to submit the following materials via email to by February 28, 2022. 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. Coversheet

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.

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