It must be autumn – the interns have flown

James organising the South Sudanese butterflies

James Evry organising the South Sudanese butterflies

It seems very quiet this week, now the last of our undergraduate interns has left us. A week ago, third year Earth sciences student Keyron Hickman-Lewis identified and numbered his last tray of specimens from the 19th century Parker collection, photographed some of the finest Jurassic fish jaws, sharks’ teeth, and other beautifully preserved fossils, before heading home to enjoy a well-earned break.

We’ve been running paid undergraduate internships for several years now, supported by grants from the University’s E.P.A. Cephalosporin Fund. The students tackle curatorial projects – sorting, identifying, numbering and cataloguing specimens, or helping to organise and list archives. This enables us to get a lot of curatorial work done, and it gives the interns a chance to handle and learn about a wider range of specimens and materials than they would ever see on their degree courses, while learning new skills which will be useful in their future careers. This year we also had interns funded through Oxford University’s own internship scheme, all tackling projects with more of a research focus.

Naomi (l) and Branwen (r) numbering Freeman collection minerals

Naomi (l) and Branwen (r) numbering Freeman collection minerals

Second year biologist, Ellen Foley-Williams worked on the Long-horn Beetle collection, but she’s really interested in science communication, so we set her an extra challenge of running a blog where all the interns could share their experiences; have a look at More Than an Intern to discover more.

Naomi (r) showing off some Cumbrian iron ore from her home county, and a an iron meteorite from space in ‘Spotlight specimens’

Some of the interns rose to the challenge of joining our ‘Spotlight Specimens’ rota. Every weekday afternoon at 2.30, a member of staff takes some favourite specimens from behind-the-scenes, and talks about them to museum visitors. It may be a bit scary first time, but every one of the interns said it was really fun to do – if sometimes a little challenging with such a varied audience.

In total, we had eleven interns, each spending six weeks working on a specific project. So Branwen, Cecilia, Ellen, Emily G., Emily T., Grace, James, Keyron, Max, Naomi, and Steph, we’d like to thank you all for being hard-working and lots of fun to have around. We hope we’ll see lots more of you all in coming years.

Monica Price, Head of Earth Collections

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