Division of Mathematics & Natural Sciences


Internships and Undergraduate Research

An internship or undergraduate research program is one of the more useful activities that can supplement your college education and provide you with a new perspective on your chosen profession that is much different from what you have seen in your college classes. At best, this experience can spark new enthusiasm for your field of interest and make contacts that will lead to a full-time job when you graduate or to a rapid transition to graduate school. Undergraduate research experience can also provide an edge when seeking entry-level positions in the chemical industry or professional school. At worst, this experience may help you to discover some type of job or industry which you truly hate, and which you wish to avoid when you are looking for a full-time job. In either case, the resulting knowledge may be invaluable

Internships and undergraduate research programs also provide an excellent opportunity for students to travel to see different parts of the country and even other countries. For those that wish to stay close to home, sometimes companies near where you live may hire summer interns, and in some cases the school where you are normally enrolled will have summer research programs. It is also possible that other schools near your home could also have options that are open to you. When looking for a job near your home or school, be sure to tell as many people as possible what you are seeking. Sometimes helpful contacts come from unexpected directions. Talk to your professors, contact local industries, and look in the want ad section of the local paper. It is often worth while to send a letter to the human relations office of near-by companies and ask if anything is available.

Finding that perfect position for yourself will be a challenge and require time and effort on your part. There is no single resource that will provide all of the information that you may require. Therefore, what follows is meant to help you start on your way in your search. This is NOT an exhaustive list and you should look for additional resources on your own. These links are provided for your convenience and do not represent an endorsement.

Penn State Altoona Resources

Internships at Penn State Altoona - It is possible to obtain college course credit for your internships. To do so, you must get in touch with Thomas Shaffer, Internship Coordinator.

Career Services Office - Provides a number of resources to help you find summer employment and to help you prepare necessary materials to apply and interview for potential positions.

Penn State Altoona Faculty - Many of the faculty members utilize undergraduates in their research and are very open to students approaching them. Talk to your professors and find out what is going on around you on our campus. The departmental websites and faculty personal websites also provide some information concerning faculty research

Governmental Resources

  • National Science Foundation, Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) - "The Research Experiences for Undergraduates REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed especially for the purpose. This solicitation features two mechanisms for support of student research: (1) REU Sites are based on independent proposals to initiate and conduct projects that engage a number of students in research. REU Sites may be based in a single discipline or academic department, or on interdisciplinary or multi-department research opportunities with a coherent intellectual theme. Proposals with an international dimension are welcome. A partnership with the Department of Defense supports REU Sites in DoD-relevant research areas. (2) REU Supplements may be requested for ongoing NSF-funded research projects or may be included as a component of proposals for new or renewal NSF grants or cooperative agreements.  Undergraduate student participants in either Sites or Supplements must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.  Students may not apply to NSF to participate in REU activities. Students apply directly to REU Sites and should consult the directory of active REU Sites on the Web at www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm
  • Research and Training Opportunities at the National Institute of Health - The NIH has a number of student programs available.  One such program is The Summer Internship Program (SIP) which "provides an opportunity to spend the summer working side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical reseach.  Students sixteen years of age or older who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are currently enrolled at least half-time in high school or an accredited U.S. college or unicersity are eligible to apply.  Students who have been accepted into a college or unersity may also apply."  Also has a site for FAQs.
  • National Insitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: NIH - Summer Internship Program.
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Felloship (SURF): National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - "for students majoring in science, mathematics and engineering.  Note that applications for participation in the SURF program are only accepted from colleges or universitites, and not from individual students.  Please prepare a single proposal from your institution to the NIST SURF program."
  • ORISE: Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education - "Are you a student, recent graduate, or faculty member looking for an opportunity to work on a degree? Or participate in research at a national research center? Visit our online catalog to find details and applications for a wide range of science education programs. The catalog lists academic fellowships and scholarships, research experiences, sabbaticals, and internships funded by government agencies. These programs are administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), many through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), a U.S. Department of Energy institute managed by ORAU. This site is organized by academic status to allow you to quickly narrow the focus of your search.  For example, if you are a college student pursuing a bachelor's degree, you would click on the "Undergrad Students" button.  Once you have selected the academic status, you can then view the opportunities available by program name, sponsoring agency, application deadline, or geographic location. You can also navigate to the programs that interest you by selecting a field of interest, a type of program, a specific time period, or other selection criteria. A keyword search is also possible on the main page through "Search this Web site."  In addition to key words, you may use the * as a wildcard symbol; for example, NOA* will find all NOAA programs. Once you have selected a program, you can read a description of the program, eligibility requirements, benefits provided, how to apply, and more."

Other Internet Resources

Agriculture-related/Environmental Internships

High School Students

  • ACS Project Seed - "Project SEED is designed to encourage economically disadvantaged high school students to pursue career opportunities in the chemical sciences. Direction for Project SEED is provided by the ACS Committee on Project SEED. During the summer, students work in the laboratory doing hands-on research guided by a scientist-mentor. Project SEED is for the student from an economically disadvantaged background with an annual family income below $34,340 or does not exceed 200% of the 2007 Federal Poverty Guidelines for family size. Exceptions can be made for incomes of up to $48,260, depending on family size and circumstances. Students who have not graduated from high school are eligible for the Summer I program, and those returning for a second summer of research may participate in the Summer II program. College scholarships (for a first-year nonrenewable) are available for SEED students who have graduated from high school and plan to attend college  The scholarships are restricted to students who will major in a chemical science field such as chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry, or materials science.  The scholarships are intended to assist former SEED participants in their transition from high school to college."


Dr. Richard C. Bell
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Office: 104 Science Building
Phone: 814-949-5172