We are often in need of qualified and motivated graduate students or upper-level undergraduates who are interested in undertaking research projects in coal-impacted regions of southern WV. We are particularly in need of students with backgrounds in geography, environmental law, geology, engineering, environmental science, environmental chemistry, biology, public health, GIS, or related fields and with a strong commitment to environmental justice. The results of student research will be valuable to Coal River Mountain Watch and other organizations in drawing connections between irresponsible mining practices and public health and safety. Please continue reading below for examples of some recent research interships.
There is some flexibility to tailor these research positions for your academic requirements (summer research, undergraduate thesis, or master's thesis). These positions are unfunded but we are happy to work with you to help secure funding through your school.
Please email Cathy Birch for more details about currently available research opportunities.
Research Intern Spotlight: Julia Morrison
My internship with Coal River Mountain Watch provided me with an experience that will no doubt be one of the highlights of my graduate school career. They challenged me with a pragmatic quantitative research endeavor that applied the analytic and creative skills I had gained through the landscape architecture program at Chatham University. This real world experience culminated in tangible results that if applied and expanded can aid in the process of establishing ecological democracy in an area of social environmental injustice. An internship with impact is simply the most satisfying means to an educational end. It was a privilege to work with such a diverse team of dedicated passionate professionals who are committed to creating sustainable communities for the people of the Coal River Valley.
Research Internship Spotlight: Elias Schewel
A native of Philadelphia, Elias Schewel is now a Masters of Urban Planning graduate student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After spending the summer in Rock Creek, WV Elias has continued to work with Coal River Mountain Watch providing mapping work and spatial analysis. This work includes ensuring that water quality monitoring data can be recorded and analyzed correctly at watersheds of different scales, as well as interpreting aerial photography to measure the impacts of strip mining on land cover. Currently, Elias is finishing a series of maps of the Elkhorn Creek, Pigeon Creek, and Laurel Creek watersheds that will show which areas were disturbed in 1996, 2003, 2009 and 2011. In the early summer, Elias will complete this analysis for the Big Coal watershed to show the phases and full geographic extents of strip mining activity.
Research Intern Spotlight: Rebekah
I spent 9 weeks interning with Coal River Mountain Watch in the summer between my junior and senior year of college. It was my first trip to Appalachia, and I really didn't know what to expect. The other volunteers and interns at the CRMW house quickly helped me settle in, and I learned so much just in the first week. As a civil engineering and computer science student, I spent most of the summer helping with technical research and data analysis - which turned out to be a great fit for me. For example, I set up a website to organize and provide access to various types of databases and documents related to mining permits, violations, and discharge monitoring reports. Aside from spending time in the office and on the computer, I also attended Tadpole Cleanup events as well as a press conference and a permit hearing with the DEP. Throughout the summer, I was able to work alongside CRMW staff and experienced what it was like to be part of a very dedicated and active environmental non-profit. My days were somewhat spontaneous as there were unexpected opportunities to visit neighbors or to travel down to Charleston for a meeting. Living in a house with seven other volunteers and interns became a wonderful experience, and I was able to meet many other environmental activists from all over the country. Overall, I had a great experience and am very glad that I was able to spend a few weeks working with CRMW and learning first hand about the impacts of mountaintop removal in Appalachia.