Biological Illustration Internship 2014

The California Academy of Sciences announces an internship in biological illustration. The internship is open to currently enrolled undergraduate students interested in developing illustration techniques related to biological specimens. The intern will work with one or more Academy scientists to develop illustrations that may be used in scientific publications. The internship is integrated with the activities of the Summer Systematics Institute (SSI), and the successful applicant will be encouraged to participate in all SSI activities, including lectures, seminars, presentations, and social activities.


The California Academy of Science is a comprehensive natural history museum supporting research and collection activities in the disciplines of Anthropology, Botany, Entomology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate Zoology, Ornithology and Mammalogy, Paleobiology.


Duration: Full-time (40 hour/week) for 8 weeks.  2014 session is June 16th through August 8th.


Eligibility: Any U.S. citizen or resident alien (green card) who is an undergraduate student, and who will not have graduated before fall of 2014, is welcome to apply. That is, you must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at the time of the internship. An excellent academic record and participation in a wide range of campus activities are highly regarded, but not the sole criteria for the selection process.


Stipend: $3,600 for the internship period. In addition, some travel costs (up to $450) to San Francisco will be reimbursed and a $2,000 subsistence allowance is available. Funding may be subject to Federal and/or State income taxes.



How to Apply:

1. The application process is now almost entirely online. You will need to complete the Application Form.  Note that this Form serves for both SSI and Biological Illustration internships offered in the Academy's summer undergraduate program, so please be sure to indicate clearly the internship for which you are applying on the form and in your statement of interest.  Please note: If you are applying for both SSI and BI internships, a complete application (including transcripts and letters of recommendation) is required for each.

2. The online form will ask you to prepare a statement of interest in working at the Academy, as well as some background information that tells us how you became interested in evolutionary biology. Please do not send a resumé.  We do not ask for one, nor will we read it.
3. Arrange for two letters of recommendation.  At least one must be from a science or art professor or academic professional (such as an instructor or teaching assistant) who knows your school work well enough to address that in their recommendation. Letters must be sent electronically to the email address indicated.  
4. Arrange for transcripts to be delivered to the Academy.  These need not be official, and must come electronically to the email address indicated.
5. Provide examples of your artwork, as outlined below.


Application Due Date: Feb 21st 2014


Recommendation Form 2014

Please note: Applicants for this internship need not provide an Adviser Selection Form.

Artwork: Provide between half a dozen to a dozen examples of your artwork (no more than 20). The samples of work should be in the form of original materials (no larger than 8.5x11 inches), high-qualify reproductions or prints (no larger than 8.5x11 inches), or slides. Please do not send images as electronic media (no attachments to emails, compact disks, or floppy disks). Your samples will be returned to you after the applications are reviewed. Please do not send zippered, or briefcase-style folders or leatherette or vinyl portfolio binders or folders.  They cost too much to send to us, and too much for us to return.  If you submit art to us in such a container, it will not be returned to you.


Artwork can be sent to:


55 Music Concourse Drive

San Francisco CA 94118

Helpful Hints:  The successful applicant will work with a scientist or scientists to help develop imagery relating to the research done at the Academy.  Instruction will pertain to specifics of the research being illustrated -- we do not teach illustration, and we assume some background knowledge of biology.  This is not a teaching internship in the sense that we teach drawing technique.  We expect that to be more or less fully developed in the successful applicant because we are aiming to provide experience in producing publication-ready drawings.  The most successful interns arrive with well-developed artistic abilities and some biological training so that they can get the most out of their association with Academy scientists and the lecture/lab series that runs concurrently under the SSI program.

Note that this is illustration, and not art as many colleges might teach.  The difference is that scientific illustration presents a message that is unambiguous about the subject and teaches the viewer something about the subject that the scientist is trying to convey.  A suggestion to the applicant would be to work up a portfolio of works that would reflect the kind of imaging used in collections-based research, describing new species, showing details of features, etc.  Stylized illustrations that depict scientific ideas are fine, but human portraiture, abstract, or non-representational art are not really what we are looking for.  Pastel or charcoal sketches can be great art, but do not necessary indicate your facility with media most commonly used in scientific illustration (ink, watercolor, computer-assisted design).  For examples, you could consult contemporary journals that publish our kind of research:  Journal of Paleontology, Taxon, Zootaxa, and our own in-house journal, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.


Notification: Applicants will be notified by email sometime in mid-March or early April and should note that because of the schedules of potential mentors reviewing applications, and the possible need to contact applicants on reversion lists, there cannot be a firm deadline on our part. We hope that applicants can be patient as we make our final decisions. In general, the successful applicant will know earlier in the process.



This internship is made possible by a generous gift from the Robert T. Wallace Endowment for undergraduate research experiences.



Rich Mooi & Christina Cordova



Biological Illustration

The Wallace Biological Illustration Internship