The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) is pleased to announce the 2017 Summer Internship Program. IALR will host six summer interns. The goal is to provide meaningful on-the-job training and real-world leadership development experiences in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and research. Funding for the program is provided by the IALR Foundation. To be considered for the 2017 STEM Internship Program, candidates must be: a High School graduate with plan to attend college Fall 2017;  an undergraduate or graduate level college student; or a recent college graduate, within the last 12 months.

IALR is offering five potential projects. Five of the internships require an eight (8) week commitment and one is a four-week assignment. While an IALR internship is NOT an employment situation, the professional expectations are the same.  This is a paid experience; 8-week interns will receive a stipend of $2,600, paid in two equal installments after four weeks of demonstrated success. The 4-week intern will receive $1,300 at the end of the internship period. The anticipated weekly time commitment is 28 hours. The IALR Mentor will set the work schedule during the intern orientation. 

Project Descriptions: 

1.  Robotic SMART table and AgBot Drone image analysis of plant growth and health
(2 intern placements) (8 weeks)
Mentor: Dr. Scott Lowman, Ph.D.

The intern(s) will work with various beneficial plant bacteria to test their influence on plant growth promotion with IALR’s SMART platform. The intern(s) may also assist in field data collection with the AgBot drone. Tasks include: inoculating various plants with beneficial bacteria, monitoring plant growth daily by analyzing images captured of the plant, analyzing images collected from drone flights, isolating and identifying beneficial bacteria, creating time lapse videos of individual plant growth characteristics, PCR, creating a presentation of data recorded, and maintenance of the tables.

2. English cucumber grafting and evaluation
(8 weeks)
Mentor: Dr. Kedong Da, Ph.D. 

The English cucumber is a new cash crop, which has the potential to increase a farmer’s income two to three times more than general cucumber. In contrast to regular cucumber, English cucumber are generally sweeter, longer, thinner, seedless, not bitter, and can result in increased profitability. Nutritionally speaking, English cucumbers protect the brain, reduce cancer risk, fight inflammation, provide antioxidants, support digestive health, and support heart health. Intern in this project will work with scientist to evaluate yield and resistance response of various English cucumber varieties and their adaptability to several root stock. Practical training will focus on plant seed germination, cucumber grafting, greenhouse technology, and design of a scientific experiment.  Knowledgeable training will focus on genetics, pathology, entomology, propagation, nutrition, physiology. The goal of this internship is to provide practical knowledge of how high value horticulture will strengthen southern Virginia economy.

3. Characterization of bacterial endophytes
(8 weeks)
Mentor:  Dr. Chuansheng Mei, Ph.D.

Bacterial endophytes residing inside plants have received more and more attention in developing low input and sustainable agricultural production systems. IALR researchers and technicians are characterizing a library of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants grown in various environmental conditions through evaluating P solubilization and N-fixing abilities along with ACC deaminase activity and plant hormone (IAA) and siderophore quantification.  In addition, we are testing these bacterial endophytes for antibacterial and antifungal activities for possible biocontrol agents. They test different plant species (grasses and vegetable crops, etc.) with different functionalities of bacterial endophytes for plant growth promotion and stress tolerance. Finally, the researchers make microbial consortia by the combination of different bacteria to test for plant growth performance for possible microbial stimulants.  They also use molecular biology technology PCR amplification of 16S rDNA to identify bacterial species.  During the internship time, the student will gain experience in molecular biology technology, quantifying IAA method and enzyme activity, as well as bacterial inoculation techniques for plants.

4. Research and data analysis for the Southern Virginia region
(8 weeks)
Mentor:  Linda Hutson Green, Executive Director, SVRA

Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) is housed at IALR and works with the City of Danville and the counties of Halifax, Patrick and Pittsylvania to create a strong economy that benefits the citizens of the Southern Virginia Region by promoting the region through marketing and public relations efforts.  The SVRA intern would conduct research and analysis for the region and aide in communications of the information through social media and other methods.  As an integral part of the economic development team, the intern would need experience utilizing Excel, Word, and PowerPoint and enjoy collecting and analyzing data.  The intern needs to be sensitive with the use of confidential information.  While there is not a specific age or educational requirement, experience with collecting and disseminating data or utilizing social medial and Microsoft Office would prove beneficial. Specific tasks could entail:

  • assisting with research on demographics, industry sectors, and locality profiles;
  • maintaining a database of information for review and analysis;
  • cataloging news articles, including clipping, organizing and scanning into the computer distribution system, or collecting news feeds and search information;
  • researching regional, local and industry issues;
  • helping to maintain regional profiles of demographics and econometric information;
  • assisting with meetings and events; and  
  • completing other projects as assigned.

5. Educational opportunity in operational-level governmental, commercial and non-profit accounting
(4 weeks)
Mentor:  Patricia Chatt, Director of Finance and Administration

The intern will work in the IALR Finance office and complete the following tasks: 

  • assist the accountants with year- end closing procedures, preparing records for auditor’s review and working on detail account reconciliation schedules;
  • review fixed asset records, record and document new assets for the financial accounting system, and scan the documents for the financial system; 
  • observe an audit in progress including Q & A; 
  • assist with the analysis detail for the management discussion and documentation for the current year audit report; and
  • complete other projects as assigned.
  • The individual will prepare a detail briefing comparing the accounting operations’ activities to the financial statements at the end of the Internship. The individual will have to be available for the time period:  7/10/17-8/11/17. 


The application must be submitted online along with the two reference recommendations. Please submit all other documents by email attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Include “Your Name – Summer Internship” in the subject line.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: As part of the process, each individual is asked to submit a short personal essay (200-300 words). The essay should discuss your academic and career plans, STEM interests (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics), motives for applying for the IALR Internship Program, and how you feel this experience will further your intellectual, educational, and career goals.

FINANCIAL NEED STATEMENT (OPTIONAL): This is a short essay (200-300 words) that explains why you would benefit from receiving an internship. How are you currently financing your education? What difficulties have you faced when paying for your education? What other forms of financial assistance have you applied for and/or received? Are you having difficulty securing FT employment? (Please note that ALL applicants are welcome to complete this part.)


  • Biological Sciences (molecular, cellular, and organismal biology, environmental science, health) 
  • Computer and Information Science and Engineering (fundamental computer science, computer and networking systems, security, programming/coding and artificial intelligence)
  • Engineering (bioengineering, environmental systems, civil and mechanical systems, chemical and transport systems, electrical and communications systems, and design and manufacturing)
  • Geosciences (geological, atmospheric and ocean sciences)
  • Mathematical and Physical Sciences (mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and materials science; accounting)
  • Education and Human Resources (science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at every level, pre-K to lifelong learning)


Deadline for completed application packet:  March 20, 2017 at 4:00pm (EST)
Candidate interviews (face to face or via Skype):  March 27 – 31, 2017 
Intern notification of selection:  April 5, 2017
Mandatory orientation dates (ALL interns):  June 5, 2017 OR June 12, 2017





Asian Pear Research Testimonials

Asian Pear Research Testimonials

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) has concluded one year of research with impressive results for participating Asian pea...

View All Media