Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities, seeks a Geoinformatics & Data Science Intern to work in its Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI). Launched in 2017, CCI works at the intersection of science, technology, and policy to develop creative, practical solutions to improve wildlife conservation. The Geoinformatics & Data Science Intern will work on projects contributing to one or more of CCI’s core objectives filling knowledge gaps to inform conservation decisions and policies, and developing tools that improve conservation implementation using data and technology.

The Geoinformatics & Data Science Internship is an opportunity for an advanced college, graduate, or post-graduate student to work with CCI and other Defenders staff at the interface of science, technology, and national conservation policy. In this position, the intern may help collect and analyze large spatial datasets, create published reports, scientific articles, web applications, and maps related to wildlife conservation, especially wildlife species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Skill development will vary with the specific project, but the intern will generally have the opportunity to develop programming and analytical skills, experience in remote sensing, programming, statistical analyses, scientific writing, and creating interactive data visualizations. Further, the intern will gain an understanding of how wildlife laws such as the ESA are implemented.

Based on current projects, the Geoinformatics & Data Science Intern may work in one or both of the following domains:

  1. Data Science and Conservation Tool Development – Projects will focus on collecting, analyzing, and presenting data related to conservation law and policy. The intern will become familiar with the implementation of environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act, and will conduct statistical analyses and create online tools for visualizing data. Projects aim to quantify policy effectiveness, present recommendations to improve species conservation, and generate tools to make data accessible to the public.
  2. Geoinformatics and Remote Sensing – Projects will focus on technical advances in the use, application, and presentation of remote sensing data for conservation. The intern will learn and refine their geospatial and programming skills by assisting with the development of algorithms and tools, such as automated change detection, image classification, and computer vision. Projects aim to advance conservationists’ abilities to assess the status of species habitats and monitor for on-the-ground compliance with environmental laws.


Assist Defenders’ Center for Conservation Innovation staff in developing and implementing various projects evaluating and improving conservation policy and practice by:

  • Designing research questions;
  • Performing standardized data collection protocols;
  • Collecting and organizing relevant data/databases;
  • Conducting spatial and non-spatial statistical analyses;
  • Creating interactive web applications and/or online maps;
  • Developing tools;
  • Writing peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed manuscripts.


Interns must be self-starters driven by the opportunity to help transform wildlife conservation using science and technology while learning new skills. Interns should have a passion for wildlife conservation, strong research and analytical skills, a proven ability to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, and excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Required qualifications:

  • Demonstrated experience using R, Python, and/or JavaScript for data management, analysis, and visualization;

Preferred qualifications:

  • Geospatial skills, including work in QGIS, ArcGIS, and/or Google Earth Engine;
  • Experience with and strong interest in remote sensing data;
  • Familiarity and interest in deep learning and artificial intelligence;
  • Background in environmental science, wildlife management, natural resources, or a related field.


Internships are located at Defenders’ Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Remote work may be considered for exceptional candidates.


Unpaid. Local transportation costs up to $10 per day will be reimbursed. Students are encouraged to seek funding opportunities through their schools or outside sources.


Interested candidates should send an email to HR@defenders.org and reference “CCI Geoinformatics & Data Science Intern” in the email subject line. Please include a cover letter (letter of interest) and resume as a single PDF file. In the cover letter, be sure to address your interest in working with Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Conservation Innovation specifically, and how your skills fit the goals and responsibilities of the internship position. If you require a decision by a school deadline for credit or funding, please mention the deadline in both the email and cover letter. Inquiries about CCI internships may be emailed to Dr. Jennie Miller at jmiller@defenders.org.

Candidates will be considered for a fall semester, spring semester, or summer intern period. Please submit your application by the following deadline to be considered for a specific term: July 1st for fall internships (start on or around September 15th); December 15th for spring internships (start on or around February 1st); and March 1st for summer internships (start on or around June 1st). The start date and duration of the internship are flexible but we encourage candidates to apply by the deadline.

It is the policy of Defenders of Wildlife to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law, in all personnel actions.

Defenders of Wildlife is a national, non-profit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities. Our employees work in an environment that is inclusive and honors each of our unique perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the conservation of biological diversity is best advanced by the contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and cultures. We strive toward a collective goal of including all people in the conservation of our Nation’s wildlife and wild places.