Education, Early Career, Outreach

Science Communication Internship

The next anticipated call for applications will take place in summer or fall 2019.

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.

Current and Future Interns

Brittany Schieler - Spring 2019

Brittany is a marine microbiologist and phytoplankton ecologist who recently graduated with a Ph.D. in oceanography from Rutgers University. Her research focused on an important species of phytoplankton called Emiliania huxleyi that produces beautiful and intricate shells of calcium carbonate (the same stuff coral reefs are made of!). Brittany studied how the production of free radicals impacts the susceptibility of E. huxleyi to infection by viruses.

During her Ph.D., Brittany participated in several field campaigns that took her all over the world and involved collaborators from various international institutions. As an ASLO Science Communication Intern, Brittany plans to foster her interests in collaboration by assisting with ASLO’s inaugural Limnology and Oceanography Research Exchange (LOREX) program. During the internship, Brittany also hopes to gain useful insights into the management of science non-profits as well as develop tools to engage the public and policy-makers on the importance of the hidden microbial world to the health of our oceans.

Maha Cziesielsk
Maha Cziesielski – Fall 2019 

Maha Cziesielski is a PhD student at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, where she studies the impacts of climate change on coral’s molecular machinery. Her thesis focuses on multiple layers of cell functions, namely transcriptomics, proteomics and epigenomics, to understand coral-algae symbiosis and factors that determine thermotolerance. Besides conducting research she is also passionate about science communication, outreach and education. Since starting to write in 2017, she has contributed to numerous blogs and is currently one of the editors in chief at Reefbites. Maha will be serving as a Science Communication Fellow for the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography in Washington D.C. starting in September 2019.

Former Interns

Edna Fernandez-Figueroa - Winter 2018

Edna is a Ph.D. student at Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences studying the effects of environmental triggers on harmful algal blooms (HABs), with a focus on drinking water quality and phenotypic plasticity. As an ASLO Science Communications Intern, she gained experience in the inner workings of the publishing process, create tools to bridge the gap between researchers and the public, and assisted with the coordination of ASLO’s recently funded Limnology and Oceanography Research Exchange (LOREX) program.

Madelyn Mette – Spring 2018

Maddie is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Uni Research AS in Bergen, Norway. Her research investigates late Holocene North Atlantic marine climate and ecosystem variability using proxy records from the shells of the long-lived marine bivalve Arctica islandica. Maddie earned a B.A. in Geology with a minor in Environmental Studies from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) in 2010. She completed her PhD in Geology with a co-major in Environmental Science from Iowa State University (Ames, IA) in 2017.

As an ASLO science communication intern, Maddie gained access to a wide array of ASLO operations. She coordinated and/or participated in several activities for the 2018 Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM) in Portland, Oregon including the “Ocean Science: Informing Policy, Management, and the Public” Session, COACh’s Strategic Persuasion Workshop, and ASLO’s Science Storytelling Workshop. Following the OSM conference, Maddie worked on projects including managing activities and volunteers for the Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies’ booth at the 2018 USA Science and Engineering Festival in DC, contributing to an NSF grant proposal, and maintaining ASLO’s Instagram presence following the guidelines of previous interns, Sean and Dervla. She also helped with the ASLO member survey and various Bulletin editorial tasks. During the internship, Maddie was exposed to national and international policy and science programs through attendance at the Center for Ocean Leadership 2018 Public Policy Forum and the NSF 2018 Long-Term Ecological Research symposium.

Dervla Meegan Kumar – Fall 2017

Dervla Meegan Kumar is an organic geochemist who studies the structure and chemical composition of molecular fossils preserved in lacustrine and coastal marine sediments to understand the natural variability in the climatic regimes of terrestrial environments. She earned a B.S. in Geological Sciences from SUNY Binghamton in 2013 and a M.S. in Geology and Environmental Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 before participating in the ASLO Science Communication Internship in the fall of 2017. She is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Arizona where she is producing biogeochemical records of North American Monsoon activity in the SW United States over the last ~135,000 years.

Along with her fellow intern, Sean McNally, Dervla worked on expanding ASLO’s online presence in order to draw a broader audience into learning about the aquatic sciences. Some of her contributions include writing for the ASLO blog, launching an official Instagram page, editing content for the website, and establishing an official strategy for ASLO’s social media. During her internship, Dervla was also trained in the role of professional societies in advocating for the interests of their members in Washington D.C. by participating in several events on science policy and funding, including the American Geoscience Institute’s (AGI) Geosciences Congressional Visits Day, the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) workshop on the Nagaoya Protocol, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) definition of “Waters of the United States” listening session, in addition to multiple visits to Capitol Hill to attend various science policy briefings.

Sean McNally – Fall 2017

Sean is a PhD student in the Marine Science and Technology, Intercampus Marine Science (IMS) Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Within Sean’s PhD framework he is studying science policy as it relates to shellfish aquaculture in Massachusetts specifically, working with both the shellfish industry and the state in support of a Statewide Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative (MSI).

As a science communication intern, Sean produced a series of videos for ASLO tilted “ASLO: Science Exchange Series”. The purpose of the series is to serve as a public outreach tool that highlights what ASLO member scientists do and can be found on our YouTube page. In addition to working on the Science Exchange Series Sean worked with Dervla on a variety of other social media projects during their time as the Fall 2017 SciComm interns. This included establishing and building a social following on ASLO’s Instagram page (@asloorg), and drafting ASLO’s social media guidelines for future interns.

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. (view Lushani’s internship interview)

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. (view Kylla’s internship interview)

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 and 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. (view Britta’s internship interview)

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.

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. (view Emily’s internship interview)

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. (view Kelsey’s internship interview)