12 people standing in grass under trees

NRS Interns


The Natural Reserves Inclusivity internship

started in 2021 with just 3 students and continues to grow. The UCR natural reserves have hosted some fantastic students! Each person brings their own unique perspective which has enriched our program. We hope to build a wide network of interns and mentors that continues to interact with the natural reserve system throughout their careers.


Woman next to scientific poster
Caryn Iwanaga

I am so grateful for my time as an NRS intern. This was my first independent research experience and it has enabled me to gain valuable skills, create a network of amazing mentors, and launch my own research project. During my time as an intern I enjoyed learning new skills like insect pinning, insect identification, and greenhouse plant preparation. Throughout the summer, I learned about various projects by interacting with lab members and by discussing their research, however, when deciding the topic of my independent project, I was the most excited by moths! My project studied the relationship between moth diversity and moth body size trends along the Boyd Deep Canyon elevation gradient. I was able to sample hundreds of moths, collected by graduate student Chris Cosma, and learn how to identify them as well as develop valuable data management skills. Since the summer, I have continued to sample and manage multiple years worth of data and trained other undergraduates in moth identification. I also presented my preliminary findings at the 2022 Annual ESA Conference in Montreal, Canada.

Man in forest with flourescent vest
Advyth Ramachandran

In summer 2021, I was part of the first group of interns of this unique UCR NRS program. I worked with my faculty mentor, Dr. Marko Spasojevic, and graduate student mentor, Jared Huxley, to survey seedlings in the lab’s San Jacinto Forest Dynamics Plot at the UCR James San Jacinto Reserve. We established 256 plots within the 4 ha forest plot within which we tagged, measured, and identified over 500 seedlings. We found that there is little pine recruitment in this mixed evergreen oak-pine forest, which may suggest a change in forest composition under climate change. Through this internship, I have learned numerous research skills including study design and data management. This experience was crucial in encouraging me to pursue my goal of graduate study in ecology.


Man standing in front of mountains
Gerardo Avila

This internship has given me the opportunity to work in a research lab for the first time and I learned from my mentors that guided me throughout this summer experience. I spent this summer participating in the monitoring and tracking of desert tortoises at Boyd Deep Canyon Reserve and I had the chance to meet the reserve director and biologists from USGS who have been studying the tortoises for many years! I learned a lot about collaborating with others, especially with the experts, and learned valuable research skills for my future career. Thanks to this internship, I discovered that I want to be involved in field research, and I recommend this program to those who want to explore new career paths.

Woman wearing backpack carrying waterbottle
Gabriela Ferraro

My experience at the UC Riverside NRS was absolutely amazing and truly eye-opening. I worked in the Rafferty Lab with some post-doc students and I was able to help them with their research on diurnal and nocturnal pollinators in a changing climate. I specifically learned a lot about moth diversity and worked in the lab to identify moth species with other undergrad students. I also was able to join lab members out in the field to catch moths using traps and sample them. I also gained knowledge and experience on classifying diurnal insects of different families, pinning insects, and I was also able to actively help catch pollinators during the day and document any necessary data such as the flower that is being pollinated, the time of day, weather, etc.. It was an amazing experience and opportunity being able to contribute to their research and learn so much about pollinators and just how important they are for our ecosystems. I am most grateful for the connections and networking I have been able to make since this internship. I have been introduced into so many future possibilities that can help show me potential career pathways in the environmental biology field. This experience has shown me that I would like to work in this area of study and save our biodiversity and help combat climate change in some way.

Man in laboratory wearing gloves and mask with tubes
Felix Osuna

This internship has given me a different perspective into what the natural world has to offer. It made me realize how much a two month internship can impact your life. Being able to connect with other undergraduate and graduate students gave me a greater understanding into my future and the way I want to shape it. As a transfer student from community college, I feel very prepared to start my first quarter at a university.

Portrait of woman smiling
Daniela Ramos Rodriguez

Over summer I spent an amazing time at the Woodard lab. The lab is in the entomology department and their main focus is feeding biology and nutritional ecology in bees. The model system they use is bumble bees so I spent the summer learning about bumble bees. I was able to observe multiple species of bumblebee bees. I learned how to safely catch them, feed them, and clean their living environment which depended on the experiment. I was lucky to have such an amazing team of Phd students teaching me many techniques. I learned how to dissect wings, dissect abdomens, and dissect their ovaries and spermatheca. I also learned a bit about nutritional assays and how they are performed. I spent a wonderful time in the field learning about all the different types of flowers they like best and how to spot bumble bees from other moths and animals that look extremely similar. I worked on my patience when catching them since we don’t live in an ideal environment for them, but once we took a trip up to the bay area, they were more easily found since it is the climate they preferred. Overall my experience was amazing and I would do it all over again if I had the opportunity. It definitely gave me a view into what is available for me after I get my bachelor’s degree in biology. It also showed me how fun a lab environment can be which was really great since coming in I was really intimidated by research.

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