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Research in Action Internships (RAIN)

Research in Action Internships (RAIN). Trainees will gain internship experience with partner organizations outside academia including NGOs, public agencies, and industry. Partners, faculty, and trainees will co-develop research priorities for the internship, and resulting products will be included in the trainee’s thesis. UC Irvine graduate policy allows RAIN thesis chapter(s) to be more diverse than academic journal publications. Products might include technical reports, management plans, patents from industry, or new industrial processes.

Interns will develop specialized skills, networks for career placement, and familiarity with the oral and written communication styles required in the workplace, such as technical reports. Interns will also gain understanding of the political, legal, and economic constraints facing managers and industry. Outside academia, there are potentially different expectations for data sharing, collaboration, and experimental design that interns will experience.

R2R faculty and staff will assist trainees in identifying an appropriate internship partner. The trainee, his or her academic mentor, and the professional mentor will then write an implementation plan for an internship to be scheduled after advancement to candidacy. The term of the internship may vary from 3 months to 2 years full-time equivalent, with longer internships focusing on dissertation research and thus not increasing time to degree. Partners with a major research mission and sufficient financial resources will play a more extensive role in the dissertation research project and funding. Other RAIN partners, especially in the private sector, will design a short-format internship model focused on skill development or self-contained projects over a 3- to 6-month period.

The RAIN partners are diverse in terms of sector, resources, and discipline in order to provide a range of career options and perspectives for trainees. Individual partners must express (through a support letter) a willingness to engage with R2R faculty in research design and skill development for trainees. Partners should also be willing consider R2R graduates for employment.

UC Irvine has established relationships with organizations that represent a broad network of partners. UC Irvine sits on the board of the Natural Communities Coalition, which was incorporated in 1996 to implement a habitat conservation plan for 38,000 acres of Orange County open space. The NCC board includes 12 other organizations, including US Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks, the Cities of Irvine and Newport Beach, Irvine Ranch Water District, and the Transportation Corridor Agencies. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) is a key NCC stakeholder that manages 50,000 acres of land in Orange County. The IRC has employed at least 7 former UC Irvine undergraduates, and it currently employs one recent PhD graduate from EEB as an Ecologist/Project Manager.

SCCWRP is an analog for the NCC in aquatic and marine systems. Its 14 member agencies include the US EPA, CA State Water Board, Ocean Protection Council, and Orange County Sanitation District. Located 15 minutes from UCI, SCCWRP has engaged in meaningful collaborations with UC Irvine researchers, hosts multiple undergraduate- through PhD-level interns, and seeks to increase involvement with UC Irvine graduate students. Currently, SCCWRP funds dissertation research during a 2-year internship that involves close coordination with university faculty. The research is designed to fall within the scope of projects funded by its member agencies or state and local government.

We also have partnerships with additional NGOs, government agencies, and private companies. A collaboration with the California Native Plant Society focuses on data analysis and endangered species management, and we have placed interns with NOAA through UC Irvine OCEANS. For trainees interested in the private sector, we have backing from Regatta Solutions (industrial energy solutions), Chem-Aqua (industrial wastewater treatment), and BYD (sustainable energy systems).