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Spring Internship for the Office of Science and Technology Policy

OSTP Student Volunteer Oct DeadlineThe Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently accepting applications for its Spring 2014 Internship Program.  The application deadline is 11:59pm Friday, October 4, 2013. Students who are U.S. citizens and who will be actively enrolled during the Spring 2014 semester are welcome to apply.

More information and application instructions are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/about/student/.

About OSTP.  The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the Federal Government.

 

About the Internship Program.  Interns are accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or Fall), which each last no more than 90 days. While these positions are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment, practical work experience, and network opportunities with other individuals in the science and technology policy arena.

For questions, please contact Rebecca Grimm rgrimm@ostp.eop.gov.

Behind the Scenes at the National Museum of African Art

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Today’s guest blog post is by AAA Summer Intern, Jalene Regassa.

Earth Matters! That is the title of a current exhibition at the National Museum of African Art (NMAFA). During my first week as a curatorial intern at the museum, I walked through this exhibition as any tourist would do. I read some of the tablets explaining about the artists and their art works in order to get the general idea of the exhibition and how each piece fit into the bigger message. Of course, I was also trying to make use of my critical eye afforded to me by my Anthropology education. However, I left the exhibition feeling unsure about some of the pieces and wondering if I understood their meaning to the full extend. Lucky for me, I was not left to wonder for too long as I was given the opportunity to join a guided tour by the curator of the exhibition, Karen Milbourne.   It was surprising, exciting, and inspiring to discover the level of depth of meaning that each piece held on its own and within the context of the exhibition. I was amazed by the amount of research Ms. Milbourne had conducted in order to be able to present the art pieces in a meaningful manner that asserts their historical context and maintains their integrity.

Thus, for me, the most exciting part of my experience interning at the NMAFA has been discovering and learning about all the work that is involved in putting an exhibition together. As you walk through museums glancing at the spaciously displayed art works, it often seems as though they were effortlessly put together. Consequently, I never seriously thought about or realized the amount of time and effort that goes into preparing an exhibition. This internship allowed me to see the activities that take place behind the scenes of the museum in corners that I never knew existed. The staff members at NMAFA graciously organized a guided, behind the scenes tour of the museum for the interns and volunteers, in which we had the opportunity to learn about the various departments of the museum and their responsibilities. For instance, I had no idea that there was a wood workshop where NMAFA makes its own cases for displaying objects or a library where curators can find books and archived documents to conduct their research.

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From the conception of an exhibition idea to its realization it may take up to a year to finalize everything and open it to the public. The in-between processes include deciding on a theme, researching artists and their creations, acquisition of the art pieces (with plenty of paper work), and preparation of the exhibition area (which often includes painting walls and building special display cases). Though I got a glimpse of what everybody does, as a curatorial intern, my focus was on the curating process of an exhibition.

Fortunately, the project I am working on is in the beginning stages, so I have the great opportunity and pleasure of working with curator Christine Kreamer to help refine the exhibition plan and observe as it takes shape. This particular project aims to bring African American art from a very important private collection and present it in conversation with African art to highlight some of the common themes and issues that the artists addressed in their work.

My job is to conduct research on the art pieces that have been chosen to be displayed from the private African American Art collection and learn when, how, and why they were made. In other words, I need to find out about the artists and their motivations or sources of inspiration: What themes interested them? What issues did they seek to address? By doing so, I will assist in the selection of compatible African Art pieces to be included in the exhibition.

2meI thoroughly enjoyed working on this exhibition project for many reason. One of the main reasons is that I never had an opportunity to learn about African American Art from as far back as the 1800s before. Thus, it has been fascinating to not only learn about their art work but also their struggle to make it in their profession. Many of the African American artists became activists out of necessity to claim their right to equal treatment. Some were subtle and showed their activism through their art and others were overt as they established or joined organizations that worked to advocate for African American interests.  In many cases, understanding their struggles was essential in comprehending the depth of their work, titles, and comments.

Overall, this has been a wonderful and fascinating experience.

AAA Internship at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by AAA Intern Jeff Emerson. Click here to learn about all of the AAA Interns this summer.

Hello everyone,

My name is Jeff Emerson and I am one of the AAA’s summer interns.  I have spent the past five weeks working at the AAA’s headquarters in Arlington, VA, and in the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History and Heritage Command at the Washington Navy Yard.

Jeff1I attended Luther College in Decorah, IA, for a B.A. in anthropology and chemistry, with additional classes in biology and participation in multiple music ensembles.  Several opportunities have led me to interests in the fields of archaeometry, archaeological oceanography, and conservation science.  Work in 2010 with the National Park Service at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska, and an internship in summer 2012 with the Nautilus Exploration Program, locating and investigating ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea, have contributed most to my ongoing search for a specific interest and career.  My introduction to marine archaeology and notification of the Nautilus and AAA/UAB internships were provided by Dr. Dan Davis, to whom I give a big shout-out.  My ethnographic interests have been focused on two trips to northern Tanzania, where I most recently volunteered in 2012 at a private secondary school serving the Maasai pastoralists by contributing to the establishment of a sustainable soapmaking cottage industry that utilizes traditional herbal and medicinal knowledge and Permaculture design.

While on the Nautilus expedition, I assisted Dr. Michael Brennan with geochemical research of the Black Sea’s stratified water column and the underlying sediments.  This investigation became the core research for my senior capstone project, which seeks to better understand the chemical processes within the Black Sea’s water column and sediments, and how they influence the deterioration or preservation of archaeological sites left in situ.  I have taken advantage of my location in DC to do research at the Library of Congress and will submit my paper this fall.

My Internship Experience

While at the AAA, my main project has been to investigate funding data from the National Science Foundation’s various grant programs, especially as it concerns anthropological research, and to identify trends and ways in which the AAA can utilize this information to advocate for the profession.  Part of my time has also been spent helping a fellow intern contact recipients of the AAA’s Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program to conduct interviews.

At the office: Fellow AAA interns/housemates Rachel Nuzman and Jalene Rengassa.

At the office: Fellow AAA interns/housemates Rachel Nuzman and Jalene Rengassa.

The USS Huron or one of the other two steamer-schooners of its line circa 1874-75.

The USS Huron or one of the other two steamer-schooners of its line circa 1874-75.

At the UAB, I have focused my efforts in the conservation lab.  After a few days of orientation and reading assignments to familiarize myself with the Branch’s mission, I began background research on the USS Huron, a post-Civil War gunboat, and one of the last military ships to navigate by both sail and steam.  While en route to Havana, Cuba, for a scientific expedition in November 1877, she encountered a storm and ran aground off Nag’s Head, NC, where the ship later sank, sending 98 of her 134 crew, mostly Sailors and Marines, to a cold grave.  Nearby U.S. Life-Saving Service stations were closed for the winter.  The resulting public outrage over this and another nearby wreck led to more government investment in the LSS, which eventually merged with another coastal service to become the modern US Coast Guard.

Because the costs involved in recovery, conservation, and display of an entire shipwreck are prohibitive, the UAB currently encourages in situ preservation, except in rare cases where the site is seriously threatened by natural or anthropogenic causes.  The Huron, like most shallow-water sites, is under constant threat of illegal salvage.  One treasure hunter tried to sell several artifacts on eBay, but was caught by NCIS, who then forwarded the acquired material to the UAB.  Our job is to clean and stabilize these artifacts, and then return them to the Marine Corps.

At the UAB: Changing a desalinization bath for the Howell Torpedo used by the US Navy.

At the UAB: Changing a desalinization bath for the Howell Torpedo, one of the first self-propelled torpedoes used by the US Navy.

In order to help fulfill this work, I focused my efforts on a brass epaulette by: 1) obtaining a digital 3D scan and 2) photographing the epaulette prior to conservation, and then 3) assessing its current state of preservation and 4) devising a conservation plan.  Copper, the main component of brass, is a nobler metal than iron, so it stands up better to corrosion.  This particular piece is in relatively good shape, showing some bending and denting, but little corrosion that would affect its structural integrity.  During this last week, I hope to begin cleaning the epaulette.  Unfortunately my internship is coming to an end, so I likely won’t have time to complete the entire process.  Besides this project, I have spent significant time troubleshooting our NextEngine 3D Scanner and adding to scanner and photography user manuals for future interns.

Brass epaulette with encrustations and corrosion residues from the USS Huron wreck

Brass epaulette with encrustations and corrosion residues from the USS Huron wreck.

Possible appearance of the original artifact.

Possible appearance of the original artifact.

At the lab: Much of my internship was spent tinkering with this nifty 3D scanner.

At the lab: Much of my internship was spent tinkering with this nifty 3D scanner.

A warehouse at the Navy Yard. Hmm...this seems familiar...

A warehouse at the Navy Yard. Hmm…this seems familiar…

Click on the image to view the video clip or visit: http://youtu.be/Fdjf4lMmiiI

That’s it. Click on the image to view the video clip or visit: http://youtu.be/Fdjf4lMmiiI

Life in DC

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jeff11When not at work, I have tried to make the most of my time living on Capitol Hill.  Living with twelve other interns can sometimes feel claustrophobic, so I often tried to escape the house by visiting one of the outstanding Smithsonian museums, cheering on the Nats, going for an evening run on the National Mall, or checking out a new restaurant or café.  My favorite activity was an evening kayaking on the Potomac and beaching on Theodore Roosevelt Island, one of the few peaceful locations in DC.  Less relaxing but equally enjoyable was a weekend excursion to NYC, where I sought out tasty, exotic-flavored Chinese ice cream, took a jaunt over the Brooklyn Bridge, people-watched in Times Square, and reflected solemnly at the 9/11 Memorial.  The friends I have made during these weeks will hopefully stick with me for a long time.

Take me out to the ballgame! Nationals vs. Pirates

Take me out to the ballgame!
Nationals vs. Pirates

The Bill Cosby Special at Ben's Chili Bowl - Best chili dog you will ever have.

The Bill Cosby Special at Ben’s Chili Bowl – Best chili dog you will ever have.

A bunch of greenhorns in NYC.

A bunch of greenhorns in NYC.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my short time in DC, and given the opportunity, I think I could even make it my home for a time.  The learning and networking opportunities afforded by these internships are invaluable, and it is possible my next steps will lead directly from this experience.  I highly recommend this internship program to any juniors or seniors with interests related to the various locations listed on that website.   I also wish to gratefully acknowledge the member-donors who made this possible for me and the supervisors and advisors who have guided me.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about my internship or my other experiences.  I would be happy to share.

All the best,

Jeff Emerson

emerje01@luther.edu

Graduating an Anthropologist: What I’ve Learned as a Summer Intern

Today’s guest blog post is the AAA/AFA Summer Intern, Rachel Nuzman:

Rachel2Long before graduating from Saint Mary’s College in May, though exponentially more as the date approached, I got asked the two questions most graduates dread but expect to hear: what is your major? And what are you going to do?  The assumption being that we, as recent graduates, will chose a profession immediately after graduation and that will be the job from which we one day retire. Or at the very least, we will magically know and somehow manage to land a job relevant to our degree. If they do understand that a life of research and travel might be in my future, the general public assumes that research will be on dinosaur bones.  While in DC I even had a roommate’s mom refer to me as the ‘bug girl ’.

Upon learning of my double major in Anthropology and English, and minor in Women and Gender Studies, it is usually and almost always automatically assumed that I will be a teacher.  And though academia is a commendable profession and one I would love to eventually fill, there is so much more to the humanities than teaching.  There are so many more options open to Anthropologists; not to mention what I believe to be is a natural a desire to do what you have devoted four years to, rather than simply teaching those same classes that inspired you to be an anthropologist in the first place.

Besides the additional perk of attending the AAA Staff Summer Outing to ArtJamz (the pictures featured here), my time in DC as a Summer Intern has been very rewarding. As an AAA and AFA Summer Intern, I have been working on a few very different projects.  The largest project is the one specifically for the Association for Feminist Anthropology (AFA) where I work closely with AFA President Jane Henrici to create a complete history of the association for its twenty-fifth anniversary.  Over the course of seven weeks I have been and will continue to conduct interviews with members and past leaders, as well as research AFA records at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA).  This means looking at the way the association’s purpose and focus has evolved over its twenty-five years as a section under the AAA, as well as the challenges specifically related to an association dedicated to the advancement of feminist and gender anthropology.  Looking at the association’s focus on the intersectionality of gender and race, as well as minority status, sexuality, income, and education, a history comes together that represents the founding mission of 1988, while showing its relevance today.  Incredibly, through one summer internship, and specifically this project I am able to use all three of my disciplines: an anthropological approach, English writing skills, and a women and gender’s studies lens.

Rachel1While at the AAA, I am working closely with AAA Professional Fellow Courtney Dowdall on a follow up project with past participants of the Leadership Fellows Program, which is allowing me the unique opportunity to interview anthropologists just starting or well into their careers, and learn what their advice is to recent graduates.  The interviews themselves are a learning experience as I apply concepts learned in methods and theory courses.  While in college, doing field research and conducting interviews sounds far off and exciting – mostly because it is, but what is hard to grasp is how long the process takes.  Coming up with the questions and the focal point is time consuming, not to mention the extra time taken to record the answers to those questions.  When a professor tells you that transcribing a fifteen minute conversation will take over an hour, you hardly think of what the consequences of this are.  It really does take time, not only because you are tasked with recording, but also how to represent those you are interviewing.  How true do you stay to their grammar or pauses? What is most important, getting their opinion and the overall meaning, or using their exact wording, ‘ums’, ‘likes’, ‘ahs’ and all?

While doing the important task of learning where past fellows are today and their ideas for strengthening the program, I am almost greedily soaking in their career paths, looking at where they have travelled, what they have researched, and what all they have accomplished.  This, coupled with my other project of compiling a list of graduates from Anthropology Departments associated with a larger program of Applied Anthropology, has led me to a wonderful world of CVs and LinkedIn profiles.

Though seemingly innocuous and routine, what this has done is created a long list of possible career options that I can take and use to answer those who ask, ‘what will you do as an anthropologist?’ Bolstering my new found wide-eyed approach to job searching is my temporary mingling with Washington Association of Professional Anthologists (WAPA) at a delicious happy hour.  Coming together with professional anthropologists to network is an opportunity I might not have had if not for learning about the program through my internship.  Though I did not walk away with a job to present to well-meaning inquirers, I did make connections and I did get introduced to other, non-conventional, anthropological career paths.

 

The Time is Now to Support the AAA Summer Internship

Campaign ThermometerThe summer interns will be arriving in just a few weeks.

The program is exclusively member funded and is now in its third consecutive year. While the interns are not paid, housing and a stipend to cover meals and  travel expenses during their internship is provided. It costs $4,000 per intern to provide this valuable opportunity for anthropology students.

Currently, we need to raise $1,974 dollars to reach our goal of $12,000 to support the three interns.

Donate online today!

Student Opportunity at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently accepting applications for its Fall 2013 Student Volunteer Program.OSTP Student Volunteer

Supporting the AAA Summer Internship Program

Campaign ThermometerThe summer interns will be arriving in just a few weeks.

The program is exclusively member funded and is now in its third consecutive year. While the interns are not paid, housing and a stipend to cover meals and  travel expenses during their internship is provided. It costs $4,000 per intern to provide this valuable opportunity for anthropology students.

Currently, we need to raise $1,974 dollars to reach our goal of $12,000 to support the three interns.

Donate online today!

AAA and AFA Summer Interns Selected

The 2013 AAA Summer Interns and Association for Feminist Anthropology (AFA) Summer Intern has been selected. Congratulations to Jeff Emerson, Jalene Regassa and Rachel Nuzman!

Rachel NuzmanRachel Nuzman will be the 2013 AFA Summer Intern. Nuzman is a senior at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is double majoring in Anthropology and English, and minoring in Women and Gender Studies. Rachel notes that through her studies, she has “developed an incredible passion for analyzing cultural influence and pressure on gender and language.”

The AFA is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Nuzman will research an annotated history of the AFA, utilizing the AFA Archives housed at the Smithsonian and other sources, to mark this important anniversary. The finished product will be a useful guidebook for research and scholarship related to AFA’s mission: pedagogy and scholarship in feminist anthropology.

Please help support Rachel’s internship by making a financial contribution to the AFA-AAA Summer Internship Program.

Jeff Emerson, an AAA Summer Intern, will be working with the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History & Heritage Command, the official history program of the Department of the Navy.Jeff Emerson A native of Iowa, Emerson is a senior at Luther College. He double majors in Anthropology and Chemistry.

Several opportunities have led Emerson to an interest in the fields of archaeometry, oceanographic archaeology and artifact conservation. Work with the National Park Service at the Klondike Gold Ruck National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska, and an internship in summer 2012 with the Nautilus Exploration Program searching for ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea have contributed most to these curiosities.  While on the Nautilus expedition, Jeff assisted the lead scientist with geochemical research of the Black Sea’s stratified water column and the underlying sediments.  This investigation turned into the core research for his senior capstone project in chemistry to better understand the chemical processes within the water column and sediments, and how they influence the deterioration or preservation of archaeological artifacts left in situ.

 
Jalene RegassaJalene Regassa, an AAA Summer Intern, will be working with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Regassa is a senior at Colby College. She double majors in Anthropology and Global Studies. “As an Ethiopia-American, I am very much interested in exploring the ways in which African cultures interact with American cultures and people” says Regassa.

Jalene has a passion for learning, which has compelled her to become an active member of the Colby African Society. Over the past three years, She has played a significant role in revitalizing the club’s activities of representing Africa at Colby College. Her Anthropology major has been valuable in learning about the various cultures that exist in Africa and in appreciating the plurality of experiences across the continent, which she believes allows for a balanced and holistic understanding of Africa and its people.

In a recent interview, Regassa relays her excitement for the upcoming internship: “I am excited to begin my AAA internship at the Smithsonian National Museum for African Art this coming summer. I believe it is a great opportunity to further develop my knowledge while combining my growing interests in anthropology, African cultures, and art.”

The AAA Summer Internship is in its third consecutive year. The program is proudly funded entirely through member donations. This summer AAA needs to raise $8,000 to host Emerson and Regassa. The internships are unpaid; however, the students are provided housing and a meal/travel stipend. Please support these students by making your financial contribution to the AAA Summer Internship Program today.

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