Growing up, Amanda Rossillo made frequent visits to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, and it inspired her to become a scientist. This semester, she is going back to the AMNH as part of the team telling the museum's story.
Rossillo, a Ph.D. student in evolutionary anthropology, has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a semester-long internship at the AMNH beginning in September. She will be contributing to the museum’s science communication efforts by sharing the AMNH’s current research and promoting events through news stories, social media, and videos.
A fourth-year doctoral student, Rossillo is pursuing her research under the tutelage of Professor Steven E. Churchill. She uses advanced 3D technology to quantify the skeletal variation within Homo naledi, an extinct hominin species from South Africa.
Rossillo developed an interest in science communication after taking a class with Jory Weintraub, who teaches Science Communication for Scientists and Engineers through the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. A fellow student in evolutionary anthropology then told her about the AMNH internship and encouraged her to apply.
The NSF support for her internship comes via a supplemental funding program called the INTERN grant. It provides graduate students with experiential learning opportunities through research internships to acquire core professional competencies and skills to support careers in any sector of the U.S. economy. Under this program, principal investigators of active NSF awards can request supplemental funding for one or more master’s or doctoral students to pursue an internship in a non-academic setting to gain knowledge, skills, and experiences that will augment their preparation for a successful long-term career.
Tips for Future Applicants
"The INTERN program is incredibly flexible, allowing you to essentially design your own internship at an institution of your choice. After identifying the skills you’d want to come away with, I would recommend reaching out to your NSF program officer, thesis advisor, and potential host institution early on in the process to get a sense of what kinds of activities would best develop these skills." — Amanda Rossillo