McKenna Summer Environmental Internship

The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation Summer Environmental Internship is a University-wide program that supports students who conduct environmental research during the summer, primarily but not exclusively with a focus on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. At completion of their projects, students are expected to complete a brief report for the faculty committee and the McKenna Foundation. They are also expected to present their results at the Kalman Student Research Symposium on campus in the spring following the summer research.

Applying for an Internship

To apply, students must submit a research proposal written in consultation with a research adviser and the completed application form.

More information about the research proposal and finding an adviser are below.

Download the McKenna Summer Application 

Submit proposal materials to: Carilee Dill,

Proposal Deadline (summer 2022 internships): Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022

Awardees will be announced approximately two weeks after the deadline.

Proposal Requirements

Interested students should first find an adviser willing to supervise a summer project of up to 10 weeks duration. The student with the adviser’s guidance will write a research proposal outlining the project they plan to pursue. The student should be the primary author of the proposal. The proposed work may be in environmental science, engineering or another type of environmentally related research relevant to our local area.

Proposals should include:

  • A title page (with student and adviser names and departments)
  • A body section detailing the proposed project (no longer than four pages single-spaced). A competitive proposal will be well-written and should demonstrate that the student has a clear grasp of the research problem, methods and significance appropriate for the early stages of a project
  • A works cited section

Criteria used to award the internships includes:

  • The quality of the proposal
  • Demonstration of the applicant's genuine interest in environmental science
  • Evidence of active faculty sponsorship
  • The strength of the letter of support from the faculty sponsor

Letter of Recommendation from the Adviser

The adviser is responsible for submitting a letter of support including the following items:  

  • How and for how long they have known the student applicant
  • The student's readiness to undertake the proposed work
  • How the adviser plans to support the student's summer activities including how often and how they will communicate 
  • How the student's work fits in the with adviser's work more broadly
  • Any concerns the adviser has about the proposed work

Student Stipends

The program supports from eight to 11 students with $4,500 summer stipends. Stipends are awarded on a competitive basis by a faculty advisory committee. Students are expected to work full-time for approximately 10 weeks and can receive free (but taxable) housing from the University during their summer research. Successful applicants are also eligible to receive up to $500 funding for needed materials and services associated with the projects. Advisers must clear such expenditures in advance with Professor Ellen Herman.

Finding an Adviser

The earlier you start the process, the better you'll be able to complete a competitive proposal that demonstrates that you are prepared to begin your research. Given the early February deadline, the end of the fall semester is a good time to start.

Occasionally a student approaches a professor with an original research idea of their own. It is more common for students to find advisers by going to several professors in their major and minor departments (or with whom they've had coursework) and asking what potential student projects the professors have.

Presenting Research Results

Upon finishing the summer's work, advisers should ensure that a student-written report of approximately four pages is delivered to Professor Ellen Herman within four weeks of the beginning of the fall semester.  You will receive reminders.  These reports are compiled and delivered to the McKenna Foundation.  The future of this internship program depends in part upon the prompt submission of reports.

Students should also present their results at the spring Kalman Student research symposium on campus. These presentations may be either oral or in poster form.

Contact Details

Professor Ellen Herman


224 O'Leary Center