seeking summer Internships

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) is pleased to announce the 2020 Summer Internship Program. The goal is to provide meaningful on-the-job training and real-world leadership development experiences in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), data analysis and market/scientific research. To be considered for the 2020 IALR Internship Program, candidates must be: a High School graduate with plans to attend college in fall 2020; an undergraduate or graduate level college student; OR a recent college graduate, within the last 12 months.

IALR is offering TEN potential projects. Each internship requires 224 hours, representing an eight (8) week commitment. This is a paid experience with professional expectations. Interns will receive $2,925, paid semimonthly. The weekly time commitment is 28 hours. The IALR Mentor will set the work schedule during the intern orientation.

Meet our

Director of Advanced Learning

Julie Brown, PhD

[javascript protected email address]
Office: 434.766.6711
Meet The Team


Deadline for completed application packet: March 13, 2020 at 4:00pm (EST)
Candidate interviews (face to face or via Skype): March 26 – 27, 2020 (please mark on your calendar)
Intern notification of selection: April 3, 2020
Mandatory orientation dates (ALL interns): June 1, 2020 OR June 8, 2020


Project Descriptions:

1. Biotechnology to Develop Natural Plant Biostimulants
(224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Chuansheng Mei, Ph.D.

Want to find alternatives to the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers? This intern will focus on plant growth promotion and productivity by improving nutrient uptake and enhancing tolerance of stresses like salt and drought by bacterial endophytes. Intern will first learn various techniques to characterize bacterial endophytes from our endophyte library, such as plant hormone IAA quantification, phosphate solubilization, nitrogen fixation, siderophore production, ACC deaminase activity, and biofilm formation. Then intern will then learn how to inoculate plants with bacterial endophytes under in vitro and greenhouse conditions and measure plant growth parameters.

2. Biotechnology to Develop Natural Plant Pesticides
(224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Sajeewa Amaradasa, Ph.D.

Want to find an alternative to harmful chemical pesticide use? This internship will focus on inhibition of pathogen growth on crops, such as rice, wheat, soybean, strawberry and tobacco by bacterial endophytes. First intern will screen our bacterial endophytes against plant pathogens in vitro, then will test them in greenhouse using promising bacteria. Intern will learn how to screen antifungal producing bacteria in vitro, to inoculate plants with beneficial bacteria, and to infect plants with pathogens.

3. Precision Agriculture and Controlled Environment Agriculture
(224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Samantha Smith-Herndon

This internship will encompass multiple facets of agriculture biotechnology with a focus on precision agriculture and controlled environment agriculture. Hydroponics, drones, and laboratory work – the internship will focus on the impact of agriculture research on science, economy, and community.

4. Agricultural Technology Internship – SMART Table (two positions)
(224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Daniel Caccavelli

The intern will determine the effect of beneficial plant bacteria on plant growth and motion with IALR’s SMART Table. Tasks will include: coding using computer vision to determine the rate of growth and motion of the plants; translating the data into a readable format for comparison with physical measurements; upgrading the system with new types of cameras including multispectral images and 3D point clouds from combinations of 2D images; and managing the upkeep and of the mechanics of the SMART Tables and the plants growing upon it.

5. Research and data analysis for the Southern Virginia region
(224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Linda Hutson Green, Executive Director, SVRA

Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) is housed at IALR and works with the City of Danville and the counties of Halifax, Patrick and Pittsylvania to create a strong economy that benefits the citizens of Southern Virginia by promoting the region through marketing and public relations efforts. The SVRA intern will conduct research and analysis for the region and aide in communications of the information through social media and other methods. As an integral part of the economic development team, the intern would need experience utilizing Excel, Word, and PowerPoint and enjoy collecting and analyzing data. The intern needs to be sensitive with the use of confidential information. While there is not a specific age or educational requirement, experience with collecting and disseminating data or utilizing social medial and Microsoft Office would prove beneficial. Specific tasks could entail:

  • assisting with research on demographics, industry sectors, and locality profiles;
  • maintaining a database of information for review and analysis;
  • cataloging news articles, including clipping, organizing and scanning into the computer distribution system, and collecting news feeds and search information;
  • researching regional, local and industry issues;
  • helping to maintain regional profiles of demographics and econometric information;
  • assisting with meetings and events; and
  • completing other projects as assigned.

6. Marketing and Communications
(224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Allison Moore, Public Relations and Communications Manager, IALR

The IALR Marketing and Communications intern will work to assist with marketing and communications of technical and scientific information for the IALR. Responsibilities may include:

  • Reporting on activities and events at the IALR involving STEM, Camps, Research Projects, and other areas that cross scientific, technical and STEM fields
  • Assist with photography and videography of summer STEM related events
  • Assist with data base of industries involved with research or in technical fields that align with IALR research needs
  • Assist with facility tours – specializing in a knowledge of STEM related activities and labs
  • Assist with technical writing
  • Provide research on technical journals and publications for the IALR
  • Collecting and analyzing analytics from website and social media platforms

7. Career Booklet Development for the SOVA Career ChoICE: East and West Expo
(224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Julie Brown, Ph.D., Director of Advanced Learning, IALR

Since 2014, IALR has been instrumental in organizing the annual SOVA Career ChoICE Expo event for middle and high school students. As part of the event, over 4,000 middle and high school students receive an Expo Booklet detailing the sixteen career clusters, to include job titles, growth expectations, anticipated wages and education requirements. In 2020, we will expand the event to serve eight additional school divisions by hosting a second companion event. The intern will “reimagine” the career booklet, producing a final product that will be used by over 7,000 southern Virginia students to inform their career choices. The intern will need to review the current booklet and make recommendations for improvement, adding data from the new localities, acquiring new young professional profiles, and conducting outreach with employers and the school divisions. The intern will need experience in using the Microsoft Office suite. Knowledge of design software is helpful. Intern will need to be self-motivated, as there will be independent tasks as well as meetings with external stakeholders.

8. Smart Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline Research and Marketing for the Southern Virginia Region (two positions) (224 hours over 8 weeks)
Mentor: Linda Hutson Green, Economic Development Director, IALR

IALR’s Economic Development division works to attract, retain and grow industry in Southern Virginia. In partnership with the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) and other economic developers, the division supports a multitude of transformative efforts. The economic development interns will conduct research and analysis of workforce pipeline assets, needs and opportunities, and aide in marketing the information. This will involve both the mentor and interns working in collaboration with key individuals and organizations to include Troy Simpson, Director of Advanced Manufacturing at IALR; Dr. Julie Brown, Director of Advanced Learning at IALR; Dr. Tammy Hurt from GO TEC; as well as working in collaboration with public schools and colleges in the region. As an integral part of the economic development team, the intern would need experience utilizing Excel, Word, and PowerPoint and enjoy collecting and analyzing data. The intern needs to be sensitive with the use of confidential information. While there is not a specific age or educational requirement, an engineering or STEM background and experience with collecting and disseminating data would prove beneficial. Specific task assignments could entail:

  • Develop asset maps of programs and services that support the Advanced Manufacturing workforce pipeline in our area;
  • Analyze Smart Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline resources and needs in our region;
  • Provide materials for brochures, videos, photographs, text and information to add to marketing material;
  • Analyze and market efforts noting the collaboration between GO TEC, the public school systems and the community college as well as IALR and Economic Development efforts;
  • Assess ways to expand the pipeline by targeting nontraditional workers inclusive of opportunities such as the #womanfacturer project and others;
  • Develop metrics/dashboard on programs included in the pipeline; and
  • Provide benchmarks or a case study on the impact of a large-scale employer locating in a region (use Greenville, SC as a model) on the pipeline, identifying potential strategies to address capacity needs.


The application must be submitted online along with one reference recommendation. Please submit all other documents by email attachment to Include “Your Name – Summer Internship” in the subject line.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: As part of the process, each individual is asked to submit a short personal essay (approximately 300 words). The essay should discuss your academic and career plans, STEM/research/marketing interests (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics), motives for applying for the IALR Internship Program, and how you feel this experience will further your intellectual, educational, and career goals.

FINANCIAL NEED STATEMENT (OPTIONAL): This is a short statement (200-300 words) that explains why you would benefit from receiving a paid internship. How are you currently financing your education? What difficulties have you faced when paying for your education? What other forms of financial assistance have you applied for and/or received? Are you having difficulty securing FT employment? (Please note that ALL applicants are welcome to complete this part.)