Real-World Summer

Real-World Summer

Internship stipends allow Doris Duke Fellows to solidify career skills


Six Bren master’s students in the class of 2009 were named Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship Program (DDCF) Fellows last spring, each receiving a full year’s tuition and a $5,000 stipend for a summer internship. That support allows students to accept internships that align with their interests but may be unpaid. Here’s how the Bren School’s newest Doris Duke Fellows spent their summer.

Specializing in Conservation Planning, Bridget Dobrowski gained experience in the important area of land-use planning while working as a “Growth Management Intern” for the Sonoran Institute in Bozeman, Mont. While there, she contributed significantly to a training manual aimed primarily at regional county planners.

“I looked at about twelve different land-use planning tools, such as impact fees, density zoning, and wildlife review standards, that can be used to protect wildlife habitat,” she says. She then wrote synopses for them, and for each of the six tools considered most beneficial for the area, she wrote a case study of a northern-Rockies town that had implemented it. “The job exposed me to the land-use planning side of things and helped me develop new skills I needed,” she says. ”It was very beneficial and interesting.”

Alicia Glassco traveled to the Dominican Republic for the Los Angeles—based Reef Check, a nonprofit “dedicated to protecting and rehabilitating reefs worldwide.” Alicia, who spent three years working in marine science before coming to Bren, contributed to a water-quality monitoring plan for La Caleta, a marine protected area (MPA) near the capital of Santo Domingo, wrote funding proposals for fishery conservation, and organized a children’s education camp.

“I wouldn’t have been able to help Reef Check without the fellowship, which paid my transport and living expenses,” she says. “The fellowship really eases the burden. Furthermore, it allows us to connect with other students not only at Bren but at other universities. At the [Fellows] retreat in September, it was inspiring to see the energy and education of other future environmental professionals.”

When CNN needed someone to dive with whale sharks, reef sharks, rays, and other undersea denizens for a piece about the Georgia aquarium, Julia Griffin was ready. Her account on CNN’s SciTechBlog ( was all in a day’s work during her 12-week summer internship at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. “The internship allowed me to get my feet wet in journalism, literally,” says Julia, who is interested in an on-camera career in television news. At CNN, she produced stories and worked as a fact-checker for print and broadcast pieces about applying new ideas and technology to solve environmental problems.

“The fellowship’s stipend made it possible to take the internship,” she says, adding that it also demonstrated in the real world “how everything having do with the environment connects to other science disciplines and to politics, too. It reflected aspects of the Bren School’s multidisciplinary culture.”

As an intern for Chicago-based Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI), Edith Moreno found herself engaged with mayors’ offices in 55 member cities that are seeking to implement best practices in sustainability. Preparing for the GLSLCI annual conference, held in Toronto in July, Edith worked with mayors’ offices to organize the event and help finalize the agenda and resolution statements. She also wrote a post-conference summary that was sent to all participating mayors. In other work, she synthesized available science to write a GLSLCI memo on the effect fluctuating lake water levels have on local wetlands.

“Having come to Bren straight from undergraduate work in geology, it gave me the political experience I needed,” she says. “It was great to put a face to the people who influence policy at the local level.”


Interning for Conservation International’s Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network, Dave Panitz spent three months working with a group of ecologists in the Valdivian Eco-Region, one of Chile’s most important sources of biodiversity. The CI team examined the likely effects of climate change, the steps needed to allow species to adapt, and the cost of implementing those measures.

“My focus was on determining the conservation cost of land selected by the biological model – a real challenge because rural-land-value data are scarce in Chile,” Dave says. “I had the opportunity to develop a land valuation technique for the region, collaborate with top Chilean scientists and economists, and present our work to federal agricultural and forestry agencies.”

Dave’s results became part of a case study that was integrated with other similar CI studies and presented at the IUCN Congress in Barcelona last October.


“Experience at the front lines of international conservation will shape the rest of my education and post-Bren career,” he says. “The collaborations and workshops proved extremely valuable, and I left Chile with great prospects for future projects.” 


Lara Polansky spent the summer working on a green hospitality initiative for the U.S. EPA in New York City. “I was tasked with quantifying energy and water use and solid-waste generation in the hospitality sector for Region 2 [New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands],” she says. “We tried to identify hot spots where the hospitality industry is drawing disproportionately on the resource base. The idea was that if we could identify what’s happening, we could better prioritize use of EPA’s voluntary partnership programs that may assist in greening hotel operations.”

Lara also collaborated with an environmental justice grant review committee and helped develop a green hospitality workshop held in January in Manhattan. “I liked that every day I had the opportunity to interact with the government and private sectors,” she says, adding that the internship enabled her to see federal government as a new possible career choice.