Urban Forestry Research Internship | Graduate Students

US Forest Service

Philadelphia Field Station

Urban forestry research internship – for graduate students

Topic: Archival and primary literature searches about urban forest history and citizen science data quality

Position description: The student will support ongoing research for two projects: (a) historic research using archival materials about the development of Philadelphia’s urban forest, and (b) a literature review regarding data quality in citizen science.

(a) The student will support the development of a manuscript about the history of Philadelphia’s urban forest, focusing on the public realm (street and park trees). This will include summarizing secondary literature as well as searching archives for new primary information sources. Another research assistant has already summarized pre-1900 information, which had more secondary literature available, so the new research assistant would dig into archives for post-1900 information. Specific tasks may include: summarizing annual reports from the Fairmount Park Commission about tree planting and maintenance from 1913-1990s; searching local newspapers for articles about trees; reviewing urban greening-related scholarly literature about Philadelphia for relevant events and actors related to urban forestry; reviewing old newsletters from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; meetings with local partners to learn about potential additional information sources.

(b) The student will support a literature review of studies on observation error in citizen science – specifically, studies that documented errors from volunteer data collection in the ecological and environmental sciences. Articles are being summarized in a reference matrix, including information about how error is defined, who volunteers, what kinds of tasks were volunteers doing, what error rates were observed, etc. The foundation work has already been completed, with around 40 articles summarized thus far. The next step is a comprehensive literature search to find more articles; we anticipate it could be as many as 50-100 additional articles. These will need to be added to the reference matrix. Subsequently, the articles need to be summarized for common themes.


Skills required: These tasks are appropriate for masters or PhD students with experience searching and summarizing primarily academic literature and/or archival materials. Relevant specialties of the graduate student include (but are not limited to) biology, environmental science, history, city planning, sociology of science and anthropology. General familiarity with citizen science or field data collection or experience with literature reviews would be helpful.


Compensation & logistics

Pay is $16/hr for masters students, $18/hr for PhD students. The internship will be up to 20 hrs/week for up to 11 weeks total, starting in late May or June and lasting through the summer. 

The intern is expected to work primarily from the Forest Service office at 20th & Arch in Center City Philadelphia.



To apply, send your resume, a cover letter, and contact information for 2 references to Lara Roman, Research Ecologist (and supervisor for these internships), lroman@fs.fed.us. Applications are due May 4.


For more information about the US Forest Service Philadelphia Field Station, see our website: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/philadelphia/