Fellowships and Internships

Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Students

The zoo is committed to training young scientists to conduct independent research projects that are relevant to the management and conservation of captive and wild populations. Several of our staff scientists hold adjunct positions at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago where they supervise graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Interested individuals should identify the staff member most relevant to their research interests and contact conservation@lpzoo.org for more information. In addition, the zoo can provide a great “field site” for graduate research projects; for more information on conducting your research at Lincoln Park Zoo, click here.

The zoo’s Research Internship program provides unique opportunities for undergraduates and recent graduates to gain research experience on exotic species in a captive setting. The internship program is based in the Conservation & Science Department and offers a unique opportunity to conduct work in a variety of areas and gain valuable experience while being a part of the zoo’s team approach to research and management of small populations. Interns have the opportunity to conduct research projects under the guidance of staff scientists in one or more of the following areas: demography, population genetics, population modeling, animal behavior, animal cognition, epidemiology, endocrinology and conservation.

Internships are between three months and two years. Our three-month internships are usually filled in the summer months by college sophomores, juniors or recently graduated seniors. In these internships, a student is mentored by a zoo scientist on a single research project in one of the above areas. These short internships usually focus on data collection and/or analysis of an ongoing research project.

Recent college graduates are eligible for longer internships when available. In these longer internships, the intern often carries out multiple research projects in a combination of disciplines (often with different staff mentors), leading to a broad range of experiences. Since its inception the program has trained more than 80 undergraduate and graduate students. Student projects have resulted in published papers, scientific presentations, undergraduate honors theses, master’s theses and Ph.D. dissertations. Projects from the past few years include:

  • Reproductive Behavior of a Pair of White-cheeked Gibbons
  • Biased Birth Sex Ratios in Captive Mammals
  • Use of Studbook Data for Stage-based Demographic Analyses: Quality, Reliability and Extraction of Data
  • Analyses of Metabolic Bone Disease in Captive Black Howlers
  • Updating and Validation of the Chilean Flamingo Studbook
  • Determination of Goals for Managed AZA Programs: An Assessment of the Conventional Model
  • An Investigation of Historic and Recent Distribution of the Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans blanchardi) in Illinois, with Proposals for Its Captive Husbandry/Propagation
  • Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House Visitor Survey
  • Assessment of the Risks Associated with Measles in Great Apes
  • Validation and Verification of a Stage-based Model for Captive Demography
  • The Effects of Ultraviolet Lighting on Bird Behavior
  • A Qualitative Analysis of the Impact of Imports and Exports on Captive Demography
  • Examination of Environmental and Perch Color Preferences in Hatchling Green Tree Pythons
  • Validation and Verification of MateRx Genetic Management Software
  • Visitor Behavior at the McCormick Bird House
  • Lineage Loss and Genetic Diversity in Captive Cheetahs
  • Development of an Avian Reintroduction and Translocation Database
  • Measuring environmental stochasticity in vital rates of captive populations
  • Development of a great ape conservation database: efforts, organizations, individuals and research
  • The relationship between rainfall and group display behavior in captive flamingos
  • Literature review of the impacts of inbreeding depression on vital rates
  • Data sources used in Population Viability Analyses
  • Tool-use in Apes


All of these students have gained substantive research experience that is vital to their future success in the biological sciences. The majority of previous interns have gone on to professional careers in science, including veterinary school and graduate school in the biological sciences; several have obtained jobs in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Conservation & Science Department.

Internship availability varies throughout the year. When internship positions are available, they will be posted here on the Zoo Careers page. Summer internship openings are typically posted by the end of February. If no internship positions are posted but you would like us to keep your information on file for future openings, email a copy of your resume to conservation@lpzoo.org. Be sure to mention the internship area (behavior, population genetics, etc.) and time-frame you are interested in.

Learn More

Zoo interns share their summer experiences, from trapping turtles to planning the perfect wedding.

Zoo Summer Jobs 2013
Just in time to go back to school, zoo interns share their summer experiences, from trapping turtles to planning the perfect wedding.