BRITE Biodiversity Internships

Confronting biodiversity challenges by placing emerging scientists in real-world settings

UBC’s Biodiversity Research Integrative Training and Education (BRITE) internship program has placed more than 75 young scholars with over 50 national and international organizations since it was launched in 2010.

Designed to connect masters and doctoral students with organizations tackling real-world biodiversity problems, BRITE funds paid internships in Canada and abroad.

These internships allow emerging scientists to apply their research skills outside academia, advancing their training towards careers as leaders in biodiversity science and policy.

“Many agencies need research and scientific expertise, yet often have limited budgets,” says UBC evolutionary biologist and MacArthur Fellow Dr. Sally Otto, co-creator of the BRITE program. “BRITE allows them to engage scientists they would not normally be able to afford, while allowing biodiversity scientists to apply their research skills and augment their knowledge."

The benefits of BRITE flow both ways. Interns learn to apply their skills in new realms, build their professional network, and help solve critical biodiversity and conservation problems. Biodiversity organizations gain access to high-calibre young scientists, who bring training in a variety of key areas, from data analysis to restoration methods.

BRITE interns have undertaken projects to safeguard New Zealand’s endemic Karearea falcon, tackled invasive species such as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in the Okanagan, taught tropical ecology at remote research stations in Indonesia, and worked with the Mi’qmaw to plan for nature-based climate solutions in Nova Scotia.

Internships typically last six weeks or longer, with minimum salaries of $7,000. Many of the students report that their BRITE internship was one of the most important and fulfilling experiences of their degrees.

“Graduate students are often unsure of how best to put their education and research into practice in government, industry, and non-profits. BRITE has helped dozens of students navigate this complex landscape,” says Otto’s colleague and program co-creator, Social-ecological Systems Professor Kai Chan. “It’s career-changing.”

With biological diversity is in crisis, the world needs leaders in biodiversity science and policy who can identify innovative, applicable science-based solutions and work effectively with partners to enact them. BRITE complement’s UBC’s teaching mission and helps equip young biodiversity scientists to become those leaders.

BRITE thanks the generous donors who are growing its endowment, and welcomes new ones. Philanthropic support is vital to this remarkable program’s success.

To learn more about the BRITE program and internships, you can download the full pdf here