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Janis Dickinson's Lab


Research Internships

Bluebird Nestlings

One day old Western Bluebird nestlings

Listed below are internships and work study opportunities for undergraduates, recent postgraduates, and masters students.

Cornell Undergraduates

I can offer research opportunities for Cornell undergraduates through the citizen science projects at Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and through the western bluebird research program in California.  If you are interested in acquiring summer funding for undergraduate research please contact me the previous fall.

Western bluebird research possibilities:

-Paternity analysis using microsatellite marker (Lab)
-Anti-predator defense among winter foragers of the western bluebird (Video)
-Western bluebird personality profiles analysis (Lab/field)
-begging behavior in western bluebirds (Field)

Current possibilities for research or work study in citizen science include:

- Bluebird incubation behavior - pattern analysis
- Backyard habitat for birds - what habitat features matter?
- Project PigeonWatch:  Analysis of courtship and color variation
- Create and test database and paper data entry systems for research projects
- Create educational materials (and the bird guide) for web based science and education projects.
-Create and design materials for Celebrate Urban Birds!
-Conduct simple analyses of Project PigeonWatch data for participant summaries
-PigeonScope - Help create the Urban Bird Studies newsletter online and on paper
-Web Cams – monitor and record behavior, pulling out interesting events and displaying annotated clips on the web site

Contact Janis L. Dickinson, Associate Professor of Natural Resources,  4-2194.

Undergraduate and Masters projects in computer science

Birds online: innovation in web design and tool development at Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology runs a group of Citizen Science and Education projects that are largely administered via the web.  We have a great many needs for web development ranging from the creation of web-based learning tools and games to new online data entry schemes and creative web page designs that use flash.  We have a substantial need for IT support to revamp our online learning environment.  We envision project development as a collaborative effort between the lab’s scientists, project administrators and the student to define a project that both meets the programmatic needs and challenges the student to maximize his or her creative output.  The lab is a fantastic place to work and we have a strong information sciences department that can provide advice and support if needed.  Credit determined by project.

Contact Janis L. Dickinson, Associate Professor of Natural Resources,

Spring Field Internships studying Western Bluebirds in California

Field assistants are needed each year for an ongoing long-term study of the behavioral ecology of Western Bluebirds at Hastings Reservation in upper Carmel Valley, California.  Hastings is part of the UC Natural Reserve System and is associated with UC Berkeley.  I lived and worked there from 1987-2005, after which I came to Cornell. Hastings is the site of two long-term behavioral ecology studies on western bluebirds and acorn woodpeckers.  The western bluebird project has one position beginning 1 March and two internships beginning 1 April; all three positions run through 15 July. 
         Duties include censusing color-banded birds, mapping territories, banding nestlings, capturing and banding adults, measuring morphological characters, performing provisioning watches, taking small blood samples, and conducting a variety of behavioral observations. Prior experience with birds desirable but not required. These are volunteer positions and include a subsistence allowance ($700/month) and housing.
Send resume and names/emails/phone numbers of at least three references to:

Janis L. Dickinson, Associate Professor of Natural Resources,

In special cases, we may have summer research opportunities for enrolled undergraduates via NSF REU supplements and other internal/external funding sources.

Hastings Reserve

Hastings Reserve in Carmel Valley, CA. (photo © David Gubernick)

See for more images of the Hastings Reserve,

Contact Information

Janis L. Dickinson
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Rd, Ithaca NY 14850
Office: 607 - 254-2194
->Click here for professional profile

J. Akre

J. Akre conducting research at the Hastings Reserve

Photo Credit

Pictures of the Hastings Reserve and California by David Gubernick