A teacher showing two students a marine organism

The Summer Systematics Institute and Biological Illustration internships will be offered June 18 to August 10, 2018.  The 2018 applications period is now CLOSED.

Since 1995, the California Academy of Sciences Summer Systematics Institute (SSI) with support from NSF's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) initiative and the Academy's Robert T. Wallace endowment has addressed critical issues such as world-wide threats to biodiversity, the origins and diversification of life, phylogenetic systematics and evolutionary biology, which have become critical components of undergraduate education.

SSI is an 8-week paid research internship at our state-of-the-art research facility and museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. This world renowned venue continues to offer undergraduates important insights into the contributions that museum-based research can make to issues facing society today. The program accommodates up to ten undergraduate students. This internship is made possible by the National Science Foundation and a generous gift from the Robert T. Wallace Endowment for undergraduate research experiences. One internship in Biological Illustration is integrated with the SSI program. 

Program Curriculum

Participants will conduct research with their chosen advisor on a project relating to the discipline of the advisor and student. Participants also receive instruction while taking part in a museum-based curriculum that includes tours, lectures, and lab exercises on phylogenetic systematics, molecular techniques, biodiversity, evolutionary biology, global change, and other contemporary issues in the natural sciences. One-day field trips highlighting the local natural history include tidepooling and hiking. Participants are also invited to attend a scientific meeting (such as the annual meeting for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology) following their summer internship to present their findings in the form of a talk or poster.



The Summer Systematics Institute and Biological Illustration Internship will be employment opportunities for 8 weeks, from June 18 through August 10, 2018, 40 hours per week.


How to Apply

  1. The application process is now almost entirely online. You will need to complete the application form. Please note: If you are applying for both SSI and BI internships, a complete application (including transcripts and letters of recommendation) is required for each.
  2. The online form will ask you to prepare a statement of interest in working at the Academy, as well as some background information that tells us how you became interested in evolutionary biology.
  3. Complete the advisor selection portion of the application form after consulting the Advisor List 2018.
  4. Arrange for two emailed letters of recommendation. At least one must be from a science professor or academic professional (such as an instructor or teaching assistant) who knows your school work well enough to address that in their recommendation. Completed Recommendation Forms should be emailed to SSI-BI@calacademy.org
  5. Arrange for transcripts to be sent to the Academy. Please do not send hard copies. These need not be official, and must be sent electronically to SSI-BI@calacademy.org.

Deadline: February 2, 2018. Applications received after Midnight on February 2, 2018 will not be reviewed.



Applicants will be notified by email sometime in mid-March or early April and should note that because of the schedules of potential mentors reviewing applications, and the possible need to contact applicants on reversion lists, there cannot be a firm deadline on our part. Due to the volume of applicants, we cannot give individual confirmation for application materials received. We hope that applicants can be patient as we make our final decisions. In general, successful applicants will know earlier in the process.




Any U.S. citizen or resident alien (green card) who is an undergraduate student, and who will not have graduated before fall of 2018, is welcome to apply. That is, you must be enrolled in an undergraduate program at the time of the internship. We encourage applications from groups under-represented in the sciences. An excellent academic record and participation in a wide range of campus activities are highly regarded, but not the sole criteria for the selection process.



A $4,400 stipend will be awarded to each intern. In addition, some travel costs to San Francisco (up to $450) will be reimbursed and a $2,500 subsistence allowance is given for housing and food. Because the Academy does not have access to dorm facilities, housing is not provided by the Academy. However, we do assist successful applicants in finding local housing. After the end of the program, support for research projects, publication of results, and opportunities to return to the Academy are available. Personal stipends may be subject to Federal and/or State income taxes.

You can discover more about the kinds of research projects that past interns have done by exploring the links at the right, or downloading this article about our program: SSI Wraps Up its 12th Year



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Please consult this listing to indicate which advisor you would be interested in working with as a part of the Summer Systematics Institute. You do not need this information if you are applying to the Biological Illustration internship. If you have more than one choice of advisor, please rank your choices in order of preference.

Advisors and Projects 2018

Acknowledgements (SSI)


These internships are made possible by the National Science Foundation and a generous gift from the Robert T. Wallace Endowment for undergraduate research experiences.