Program Description

The Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) operates as an umbrella program for three internship opportunities and works to coordinate a collaborative program for all participants in the three internship programs each summer. At the start of each summer all PIPES student interns participate in a mandatory 4-day orientation held in Hilo, Hawaii and then participate in a 10-week internship experience focused on conservation science, natural resources management, and/or environmental education and outreach. Interns work on mentored research projects with mentors from university, Federal, State, and Counties agencies, as well as non-profit organizations. All internships are paid experiences. Housing and travel expenses are provided through the REU program only, however, some housing opportunities may be available through the UHHIP program (contingent on funding). The opportunities available through PIPES are:

  • Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded internship program. Each summer 10 student interns participate in a 4-day orientation and a 10-week research focused internship experience focused on tropical ecology, evolution, climate change, and natural resources management. Interns work on mentored research projects with university and local agency researchers. The focus of this program is to give those students who have limited or no research background the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in the exciting field of conservation biology. The program goal is to connect under-represented undergraduates, especially kama’aina (born and raised in Hawaii) and those of Native Hawaiian ancestry, to internship opportunities to explore the scientific research process and to explore career and graduate school opportunities for the future.
  • University of Hawaii Hawaiian Internship Program (UHHIP): The University of Hawaii Hawaiian Internship Program (UH-HIP) was developed in 1997 in response to the observed lack of local representation within Hawaii’s conservation workforce, in particular a lack of Native Hawaiians. The program goal is to connect undergraduates who are kama’aina, especially those of Native Hawaiian ancestry, to internship opportunities with agencies and organizations responsible for research, management, and education relating to environmental issues in Hawaii and the Pacific region. Our vision is that more Native Hawaiian and local students will enter into fields of study and ultimately careers related to the natural resources of this state. We do this through working with our partners to coordinate a 4-day orientation and a 10-week project-based summer internship experience for successful applicants with host agencies throughout the state. Interns are generally hired by their host agencies for 10 weeks at 40 hours per week. Funding for some positions are also provided through Kamehameha Schools, EPSCoR Hawaii IMUA III, Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU), and the Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation.
  • Micronesia and American Samoa Student Internship Program (MASSIP): In 1994 the University of Hawai'i Sea Grant Extension Service in collaboration with the University of Hawai'i at Hilo developed a summer internship program for undergraduates from the U.S.-affiliated Pacific islands. The goal of the program was to encourage more Pacific island students to explore environmentally related careers through this internship opportunity. The program was developed to address a growing concern in the region regarding the limited number of students from Pacific islands entering into environmental fields and returning to their home islands to pursue related positions. This program has been continuously supported by the USDA Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, and the agencies which host interns. Students from U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands who are currently attending UHH accepted into the program would be flown to their home island for 10 weeks to take part in a project-based internship mentored by agency researchers in the Pacific. Roundtrip travel from and back to Hawaii as well as a stipend is provided by the program.  Potential opportunities vary by summer, please contact program staff for more information on current projects

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Program Activities

During the 4-day orientation and 11-week internship, a PIPES Intern is expected to complete the following:

  • Write a project pre-proposal
  • Participate in a 4-day pre-internship orientation
  • Work full-time (40 hours/week) for the 10-week duration of the internship with the designated faculty or agency researcher
  • Attend Friday meetings (for those in Hilo only)
  • Submit regular progress reports to PIPES Office
  • Attend the Hawaii Conservation Conference
  • Complete a written final research report
  • Participate in a final intern presentation symposium

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Program Eligibility

To qualify for PIPES you must be:

  • an undergraduate student (Note: for REU, you must be a continuing student in the fall after your internship);
  • a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident;
  • be in good academic standing (minimum overall GPA of 2.0); and
  • Interested in pursuing a career related to tropical conservation science, resource management, and/or environmental education and outreach.

Those with any of the following are particularly encouraged to apply:

  • little or no research experience and attend schools with limited research opportunity;
  • Enrolled full-time at a minority-serving institution;
  • First generation college students (neither parent has a bachelor's degree);
  • Demonstrated interest in working within various communities related to research efforts and impacts;
  • Are knowledgeable and/or familiar with Hawaiian ecosystems;
  • Students of Native Pacific Island or Native Hawaiian ancestry and Hawaii residents; and -Kama'aina students attending four-year colleges or universities who are majoring in natural science, marine science, agriculture, geography, geology. Non-environmental majors are allowed by permission. Students attending two-year colleges who plan to attend a four-year institution following the internship and students who have graduated within six months of the program start date may also apply.

Preference will be given to those candidates who plan to pursue a career in Hawaii and who have a strong dedication to our island environment and culture.

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Program Benefits

Interns benefit by:

  • Gaining employment and research experience and skills related to natural resource management and tropical conservation science;
  • Making contacts in Hawaii’s conservation field, as well as interacting with many other environmental educators;
  • Working with a host mentor on a specific project related to tropcial conservation science, environmental education, and/or resource management;
  • Understanding how their internship experience and studies relate to local needs and identifying potential careers;
  • Developing strong and long-lasting networks of professional contacts for future career searches, through university mentors, agency partners and fellow cohort members;
  • In most cases, earning academic credit for their internship experience and final report.

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Program Application

Apply here!