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The King of Dinosaurs

Research Areas & Projects

Please Note

Kirtlandia Research Internships are open to undergraduates from all colleges; however, only those who can arrange summer housing in the Cleveland metropolitan area will find the program practicable. Contact Ann S. DuFresne at 216-231-4600 x3243 or for more information.

2016 Internships


Initially, the intern will participate in four weeks of field investigations at a Late Archaic settlement in Lorain County, Ohio. The intern will learn the basic techniques of field investigation and data recording under the curator and field staff. During the following four weeks, the intern will work on Museum analysis of artifact collections from a northern Ohio site, as well as analysis of feature data and intra-site settlement patterns through the study of maps and site records. The application should include a list of all relevant courses and previous fieldwork. The intern should possess good organizational skills and be able to work independently at times with minimal supervision. No previous field experience is required, but some experience in basic laboratory methods in archaeology is preferred, with proficiency in the use of Excel.


The third year of inventory of some of the highest quality coastal wetlands along the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie. The student will be working with the curator, Presque Isle State Park college interns and the Museum Herbarium Coordinator to collect Vegetative Indices of Botanical Integrity (VIBI) within several Lake Erie wetlands from Presque Isle west to Geneva and Mentor Marsh. Plots measuring 20 by 50 meters will be established within each marsh and all plant species in the plot will be identified. Percentage coverage of the dominant plants will be determined for each plot. The student will compare the VIBI data from 2016 plots with 2015 plot scores. The student should have a background in botany, and will learn how to identify wetland plants with dichotomous keys. Applicants should have the ability to work outdoors in wet environments for long periods of time, and have own transportation.

Invertebrate Paleontology/Geology

Millstones are key geological components of material culture. Recent departmental investigations of historic millstones in Ohio have uncovered broad trends in the various igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks used in their manufacture. As part of this ongoing study, the student will assist in finding, mapping, and determining the rock types of additional historic millstones, as well as analyzing and synthesizing previous data. This project will require coursework in at least two of the following subjects: paleontology, petrology, and Arc GIS. It will also include work in libraries and archives as well as at sometimes remote field localities. Applicants should be comfortable doing fieldwork.

Invertebrate Zoology I

An opportunity for students to gain critical experience in scientific illustration. A number of taxonomic projects focused on praying mantis morphology, systematics and species description all require illustrations for diagnostic purposes. Interns will work with staff and graduate students within the entomology section on research projects destined for publication in scientific journals. Taxonomic revision projects will encompass full habitus illustrations, line work, and renderings of complex morphological features. Interns should expect to produce multiple iterations of illustrations with accuracy as the central focus. Interns should demonstrate attention to detail, work well with others, and respond well to constructive critique. Interns with previous training in biological scientific illustration, skills in digital media are preferred.

Invertebrate Zoology II

In this internship, the student, under the guidance of the curator and collections manager, will work with a newly acquired reference collection of North American bees to identify, catalog and curate the bees in the existing Cleveland Museum of Natural History collection. This research project will involve the use of taxonomic keys and an understanding of complex morphological features, and will require identification of specimens, database entry and collections work. The student should demonstrate attention to detail, work well with others, and respond well to constructive critique. Applicants should have previous coursework in biology and experience with databases/spreadsheets.


Glacial boulder mapping. Northeast Ohio features many glacial erratics, boulders which have been transported here by glacial action from various locations in Canada. In the field, the student will locate groups of large glacial boulders, collect data on diameter, composition, latitude and longitude, and map each group’s geographic pattern. In the lab, the student will plot size and composition data on histograms to determine statistical means and modes. Researching the literature on Ohio’s glacial history, the student will attempt to interpret the data and find dynamics of the glacier that brought the boulders here to Northeast Ohio from their Canadian sources. Applicants must have had a petrology class, be able to identify basic minerals and rocks in hand sample, and be able to hike at least 2 miles along stream beds and rough trails with equipment. Own transportation required.


The student intern will work on a DNA-based research project, potentially involving the recent evolutionary history of a North American bird. Prior experience with DNA-based research is preferred, but not required. The intern will also be involved in several aspects of the Ornithology research collection, including preparing new specimens as well as working with data associated with existing specimens. Please note: this internship will likely start in early July and finish at the end of August.


Under the guidance of the curator and the collections manager, the student will work on a comparative analysis of hominoid ulnae. The project objective is to document the morphological differences between the ulnae of humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans using the Hamann-Todd osteological collection and attempt to understand the functional implications of the differences. Data collected by this project will be used to analyze a fossil hominin ulna from the Woranso-Mille study area.

Vertebrate Zoology

Participate in an ongoing mark (PIT tagging) and recapture (GPS locations) study of the movements, activity range, and population size of the mudpuppy in the Grand and Ashtabula Rivers. The student will capture and identify native fishes, amphibians and reptiles, and crayfishes while conducting stream surveys in northeastern counties and will also work in amphibian monitoring studies being conducted in natural areas across several counties. A fairly extensive turtle trapping survey of Mentor Marsh is also planned. The student should have a minimum of one previous course in vertebrate zoology and/or ecology. Applicants should have the physical strength to turn or help turn large rock slabs and work with large nets, as well as the ability to work in wet environments for long periods of time. Own transportation required.

Wildlife Resources

The student will be introduced to animal care and the basics of animal enrichment for captive native wildlife maintained at Perkins Wildlife Center & Woods Garden, working closely with the Director, Manager and staff. The student will first be trained in Museum protocols for care and handling of mammals, reptiles and birds of prey. Typical assignments include animal handling, exhibit cleaning and maintenance, food preparation, program presentation, and assisting in daily animal enrichment, training and veterinary care. The student will then design and implement a research project. For example, an animal behavior study will evaluate enrichment strategies for a particular animal or bird in the collection, with the goals of testing the effectiveness of these new strategies, as well as the current enrichment procedures. Applicants should list all relevant courses and any previous experience.