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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory PhD Intern - Environmental Subsurface Science [MSIPP-EM] in Des Moines, Iowa


PNNL's Earth System Science Division enables energy independence and national security through leadership in earth systems science, engineering, and decision analytics. Our work focuses on solving complex problems in the dynamic Earth system. Our interdisciplinary scientists steward a breadth of efforts that encompass research on plants to groundwater science and coastal zones, to storm prediction.

Our research focuses on understanding and mitigating operational risks at the interface of human and natural environments. This includes predicting the impacts of natural hazards and extreme climate events on Earth and human systems, along with the impacts of wildfire, flooding, sea level rise and storm surges. We focus on understanding and mitigating environmental contamination and increasing the resiliency, security and sustainability of water resources. We provide geointelligence through advanced sensing and data analytics to forecast complex system behaviors and operational performance to understand human-natural systems. This includes informed decision making and enhanced community resilience, advanced monitoring, and remote sensing of environmental systems for energy and national security. It also includes developing energy systems, including geothermal energy, sustainable oil and gas production, storage and utilization, along with carbon sequestration.

Driven by a “science-to-solutions” philosophy, we provide scientific leadership and technology to enhance national security, mitigate natural hazards and optimize disaster response. In the critical areas of energy, environment, intelligence, and defense, we deliver insights and decision support through the development of tools and solutions.


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is seeking summer interns who are excited to learn and contribute to environmental science and engineering. We are looking for emerging leaders wanting to make an impact in the world and advance our nation’s scientific understanding. There are a variety of research topics and areas that cover geochemistry, microbiology, computer science, chemistry, engineering, earth science and much more.

MSIPP is funded by the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM). DOE-EM is working to cleanup legacy radioactive waste found in soil, groundwater, and underground storage tanks. All research aligns with DOE-EM’s mission to safely immobilize and cleanup environmental legacy waste, focusing on cleanup of the Hanford Site which is one of the most complex DOE sites due to hazardous comingled contaminates. For more information, go to

You will be completing meaningful research to help solve some of our nation’s biggest cleanup problems. For example, some projects look at visualizing contaminants of concern in the subsurface using geophysical modeling. Other projects look at safely transporting hazardous chemicals and discovering long-term forms to store this legacy waste. Once you’ve applied, we will be able to match your interests and career goals with a scientist or engineer who will mentor you throughout your 10 week internship.

Interns at PNNL also take part in The Gold Experience which is a suite of workshops to provide professional growth opportunities that empower interns with the tools needed to complete their internship requirements and grow as young professionals. This experience helps interns become educated on the breadth of research undertaken at PNNL. The Gold Experience also helps you grow your network as you begin your career.


Minimum Qualifications:

  • Candidates must be currently enrolled/matriculated in a PhD program at an accredited college.

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 is required.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student at an accredited Minority Serving Institution

  • Please ask if you are unsure about your school’s MSI status

  • Working toward a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree

Hazardous Working Conditions/Environment

All projects involving labwork will be located in Richland, WA. Projects focused on computer science or modeling could have remote internship opportunities.

Additional Information

Due to business needs and client space, US Citizenship is required.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is subject to the Department of Energy Unclassified Foreign Visits & Assignments Program site, information, technologies, and equipment access requirements.

Why should I apply?

This internship will advance your career by giving you real world research experience and connecting you with leading experts in your field. You will meet other interns in multiple disciplines and introduce you to potential careers and various research opportunities. Many interns return for multiple internships or are hired following schooling. If you’re interested in making the world a better place, restoring the environment to its natural state, and gaining valuable research experience to launch your career, consider applying below.

Where is this internship?

All projects involving labwork will be located in Richland, WA. Projects focused on computer science or modeling could have remote internship opportunities.

When is the anticipated start date?

Summer interns begin in June and are flexible around university schedules.

What is the appointment length?

Summer internships are 10 weeks long.

What are the benefits?

Salary and round-trip travel reimbursement are provided. Travel reimbursement is provided for students living more than 50 miles from PNNL and is based on government-permitted amounts. Interns will also receive a housing allowance based on government-permitted amounts.

How do I apply?

Submit your resume or CV

How do I know if I qualify for MSIPP?

To qualify you must attend a Minority Serving Institution (MSI). MSIs are institutions of higher education enrolling populations with significant percentages of undergraduate minority students. Don’t know if your school qualifies? Ask us! Please email to find out more.

Testing Designated Position

Not Applicable.

About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is a world-class research institution powered by a highly educated, diverse workforce committed to the values of Integrity, Creativity, Collaboration, Impact, and Courage. Every year, scores of dynamic, driven people come to PNNL to work with renowned researchers on meaningful science, innovations and outcomes for the U.S. Department of Energy and other sponsors; here is your chance to be one of them!

At PNNL, you will find an exciting research environment and excellent benefits including health insurance, flexible work schedules and telework options. PNNL is located in eastern Washington State—the dry side of Washington known for its stellar outdoor recreation and affordable cost of living. The Lab’s campus is only a 45-minute flight (or 3 hour drive) from Seattle or Portland, and is serviced by the convenient PSC airport, connected to 8 major hubs.

Commitment to Excellence, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Equal Employment Opportunity

Our laboratory is committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment dedicated to solving critical challenges in fundamental sciences, national security, and energy resiliency. We are proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer. In support of this commitment, we encourage people of all racial/ethnic identities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities to apply for employment.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory considers all applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), protected veteran status, and any other status or characteristic protected by federal, state, and/or local laws.

We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application procedures and in employment. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, contact us at .

Drug Free Workplace

PNNL is committed to a drug-free workplace supported by Workplace Substance Abuse Program (WSAP) and complies with federal laws prohibiting the possession and use of illegal drugs.

Mandatory Requirements

Battelle requires employees to have a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, subject to accommodation. Applicants are required to disclose their vaccination status following a conditional offer of employment and must attest to being fully vaccinated with a Center for Disease Control (CDC)-approved COVID-19 vaccination, or provide documentation of need for medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Please be aware that the Department of Energy (DOE) prohibits DOE employees and contractors from having any affiliation with the foreign government of a country DOE has identified as a “country of risk” without explicit approval by DOE and Battelle. If you are offered a position at PNNL and currently have any affiliation with the government of one of these countries you will be required to disclose this information and recuse yourself of that affiliation or receive approval from DOE and Battelle prior to your first day of employment.

Rockstar Rewards

Regular Hourly:

Employees are offered an employee assistance program and business travel insurance. Employees are eligible for the company funded pension plan and 401k savings plan, once eligibility requirements are met.

Temporary Hourly:

Employees are offered an employee assistance program and business travel insurance.

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