Graslie Curiosity Internship


Behind quiet doors at the University of Montana are cabinets filled with thousands of biological specimens, from hummingbirds to flamingos, shrews to walruses, capuchin skulls to zebra pelts to jars of snakes and vials of parasites. A vast library of zoological diversity full of opportunities for education, inspiration, and discovery…


Emily Graslie holding skulls

Inspired by UM alum Emily Graslie and her popular online science communication series “The Brain Scoop,” the Graslie Curiosity Internship funds undergraduate students to pursue independent and interdisciplinary work in conjunction with the UMZM. These internships encourage students from all backgrounds and majors to pursue a project—from technical work in the museum to an article, event, piece, or collection in any form and any medium—that helps the UMZM in its mission and spreads appreciation of natural history collections in new and engaging ways.


Two interns will be supported during the spring semester with $1,600 (average 8 hours/week, 16 weeks, $12.50/hour).


Any undergraduate student who will attend UM in spring semester full or half time (at least 6 credits). Open to all students regardless of background, major, year, or any other factor. Students interested in some form of public outreach are particularly encouraged to apply.


  • Application deadline: end of the day November 15, annually
  • Intern announcement: November 30, annually
  • Internship duration: spring semester (16 weeks)

How to Apply

You can apply to this program through UM Handshake (job listing #6986161). If you have difficulty using Handshake, you may also email your appication materials to curator Angela Hornsby ( Before applying, prepare the following documents as separate PDF files. Include your name and 790# at the top of each document (either in the header, or in the first line).

  • Current CV (2 page max) including name, email address, phone number, local mailing address, major, and expected year of graduation. List recent employment, awards, service, club activities, leadership positions, and other relevant experiences.
  • Personal Essay (1 page max) explaining your academic path so far, your future interests, and what you hope to get out of the Graslie Curiosity Internship. [In Handshake, submit this personal essay in place of a cover letter.]
  • Proposal (2 page max including text, photos, etc.) with the following sections:
    • Project: Describe the project you would like to pursue. Projects may focus on technical work in the UMZM, creative opportunities stemming from the vertebrate collections, or some interdisciplinary combination thereof. Describe how your project will benefit the UMZM, either directly or indirectly through outreach.
    • Outreach: All projects should include some aspect of public outreach, with the goal of spreading knowledge and appreciation of natural history museums. Outreach can either be the primary goal of your project, or just one aspect of it. Either way, explain who the audience for your outreach will be, how you will come in contact with them, and what you hope they learn or experience.
    • Timeline: What are the major steps or phases to achieving the project goals, and how long do you expect each step to take?
    • Resources Needed: What materials or permissions would you need for this work? A modest (up to $200) budget may be available for materials and other costs, pending approval.


What should the project focus on?

If you're not familiar with the UMZM, we recommend watching the latest video tour to get a sense of our collections: Phillip L. Wright Zoological Museum tour

Your project can take any form or medium. The UMZM specimens, data, history, and/or future may be the direct subjects of the work, or simply serve as a point of departure. Projects may be those listed on the Current Opportunities page, or anything else you can envision and develop. This includes other technical projects you have discussed with the curator, or an interdisciplinary article, event, piece, or collection of work in any form and any medium. If you have questions about what would be feasible, or would like to see specimens or materials that you are considering framing your proposal around, contact the curator. 

What should the outreach focus on?

Outreach does not need to be the focus of your proposal, but it should be a portion of it with the goal of spreading knowledge and appreciation of natural history museums in general and the UMZM in particular. It may focus on audiences of any age(s), occur on- or off-campus, and could either occur once or take a form that could be used or distributed many times. Examples include social media takeover, articles for the UMZM newsletter or other publications, informational or promotional videos, and events with campus or outside groups.

What would be available for me to use?

Everything we have in the UMZM would be available for you to measure, photograph, scan, etc. A subset of our specimens would be available to use in outreach settings where they could be handled by many people, and another subset (such as loose bones and feathers) would be available for destructive use. A modest budget up to $200 may be available for materials and other costs, pending approval. If you have questions about what would be feasible, or would like to see specimens or materials that you are considering framing your proposal around, contact the curator.

Can I use this internship to work in another museum?

The internships are based in the UMZM and should draw primary inspiration from our vertebrate and associated collections. However, we enthusiastically welcome cooperation with other museums (UM Paleontology Center, UM Herbarium, Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Mansfield Library Special Collections, etc.) if relevant to your project or outreach.

Can I collaborate with another student?

Yes, collaborative applications are encouraged. In this scenario, two students will develop a single, shared application together. The application package should be submitted together with the single proposal but separate CVs and personal statements. Each student’s contribution in the proposed work should be made clear in the proposal. See the Application Judging section below to understand how collaborative applications would be funded, if awarded.

What have past interns done?

See our Past Staff page to learn more.

Application Judging

Applications will be judged by a panel of faculty and staff from the University of Montana and its partners. The panel will rank applications based on (1) benefit to the UMZM and/or outreach audiences, (2) feasibility, (3) creativity, and (4) relevance of the internship experience to the student’s current or future interests. Internships will be awarded to the one or two top-ranked applications, depending on availability of funds.

Collaborative applications: If one of the two top-ranked applications is collaborative, the internship hours will be split between the cooperating students (two internships of 4 hours/week). In the case of an exceptional collaborative application, the panel may choose to award both internship lines to that project, and thus fund each collaborating student with a full internship (two internships of 8 hours/week).

Institutional Support

The Graslie Curiosity Internships are supported by:

  • Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum
  • University of Montana Division of Biological Sciences
  • University of Montana Experiential Learning & Career Success