Past Internship Opportunities

2022 Summer Internship Opportunities

Medicine-Law with Dr. Adam Sirek and Dr. Valerie Oosterveld 

Space medicine transcends the borders and typical territorial policies that have traditionally defined medical licensing and medicolegal concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic has opened new discussions about scope of practice and abilities to practice medicine out of the normal geographical areas of licensing. Virtual care provided between provinces or by clinicians in cities disparate from their patients has resulted in new licensing approaches and malpractice coverage. There are currently no licensing bodies or formal certification methods to be “licensed” to practice medicine in space. Traditionally, astronauts have been government employees and their flight surgeons also approved and covered by the government. Commercial access to space will result in a review of the process and consideration to who is legally allowed (and insured) in their practice of medicine in low Earth orbit, the moon and beyond.

For this project, intern(s) [1 med, 1 law] will review current policy related to licensing and insurance for clinicians practicing outside their scope and region to provide a framework for medicolegal licensing and insurance for clinicians who may practice in cis-lunar space.

Med Intern Required Qualifications: UGME or PGME (medical student or resident) 

Law Intern Required Qualifications: The student should be a current 1L or 2L Western University Law student with an interest in space and/or health-related issues. The student should have strong research, writing and communication skills.

Medicine-Engineering with Dr. Adam Sirek and Dr. Ana Luisa Trejos 

Novel technologies to monitor, support and maintain crew health are critical to human exploration in cis-lunar space. A major focus of monitoring crew health and performance will be decisions and technologies surrounding what measures will be important and how they will be collected. Vital signs are a commonly collected and important value for decision making by clinicians. While commonplace terrestrially, collecting vital signs in microgravity or variable gravity continues to be a challenge. Discussions about what vital signs are needed, on what frequency and how to collect them remain a topic of discussion in the biomedical engineering field.

For this project, intern(s) [1 med, 1 eng] will perform a tech watch style survey of available wearable bio-monitoring devices and propose a series of appropriate devices for potential cis-lunar missions. Furthermore, in the final report, the team will discuss the timescales and methods in which vitals will be collected and used by the crew medical officer and terrestrial based flight surgeons.

Engineering Intern Required Qualifications: Mechatronics (ideal), Mechanical or Electrical Engineering student who has completed at least 2nd year. A dual degree with BME would be a significant plus.

Med Intern Required Qualifications: UGME or PGME (medical student or resident) 

Physics and Astronomy with Dr. Els Peeters and Dr. Jan Cami: The James Webb Space Telescope: Radiative feedback from massive star

We have recently witnessed the successful launch and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Hailed as the bigger and vastly more sensitive successor to the HST, JWST will similarly inspire the general public and have researchers develop the most innovative approaches to process and analyze observations of unprecedented quality to study the Universe near and far.

JWST observations will be dominated by infrared (IR) emission from large carbonaceous molecules (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs). This emission encodes a large amount of information about the physical and chemical environments in which they reside and is a powerful messenger to study astrophysical processes such as star and planet formation and galaxy evolution. The best observations to date of astronomical PAH sources yield spectra averaged over regions with vastly different properties, thus greatly confusing their interpretation. JWST’s incredible spatial resolution and sensitivity will disentangle these regions and allow us unprecedented views on PAH characteristics on small spatial scales.

The first few hundred hours of science time with JWST will be used to carry out 13 so-called Early Release Science (ERS) programs. The ERS programs represent a new category of scientific investigation, with two key pillars: their scientific merit on the one hand, and the delivery of so-called Highly- Processed Data Products and Science Enabling Products (SEPs) on the other hand - tools that will help other researchers to create better observing proposals, help to analyze, interpret, and disseminate the resulting data, and thus increase the scientific return of the entire mission. I am leading one of the 13 successful ERS programs: ID 1288 “Stellar Feedback of massive stars" ( We will observe a very popular astronomical object, the Orion Bar.

Two summer projects are available: 1) the student will participate in the development of these science enabling products (i.e. the scientific development, programming, and testing) and 2) the student will study infrared observations obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope and analyze variations in the spectral features of PAHs to help us understand future JWST observations.

Intern Required Qualifications: The ideal candidate has a background in physics, astronomy, math or computer science, and extensive programming experience in Python. Experience with data analysis or collaborative software development (e.g. using github) is an asset, and we also expect the interns to be team players.

Physics and Astronomy with Dr. Peter Brown: Physical analysis and orbital correlations among faint meteors 

This project will perform the first detailed reconnaissance of a recently developed database comprising multi-station measurements of the faintest meteors ever observed. The data were gathered using automated EMCCD cameras deployed near Western University. The purpose is to examine the physical behaviour of meteors as a function of their orbital characteristics, with emphasis on statistical correlations of meteoroid strength with orbit type. More broadly correlations will be examined of ablation behaviour (begin and end heights, light curve shape etc) as a function of mass, orbits and speed. The outcome of this project will be the first meta-analysis correlating physical properties of mm-sized meteoroids with their orbit types, providing insight into the broad physical properties of a large sample of asteroids and comets.

Intern Required Qualifications: The ideal candidate will have extensive programming experience in Python and a math/physics or computing background. Experience with analysis of large datasets and associated analysis tools an asset. 

Electrical Engineering with Dr. Jayshri Sabarinathan 

Hyperspectral camera development for remote sensing from micro-satellites – involves embedded systems and circuit hardware expertise/interest and optical imaging instrumentation development; industry partners are involved in project. 

Intern Required Qualifications: 1-2 students preferably Electrical Engineering or related area with interest/expertise in building circuit hardware and/or optical imaging instrumentation. The hardware will be early prototypes of space compatible instrumentation that for either satellites or lunar rover operation.

Geography and Environment with Dr. James Voogt 

Reconstructing the urban three-dimensional thermal environment

Dr. James Voogt is seeking a student with interests in remote sensing, Geographic Information Science and/or microclimate/micrometeorology to help construct and analyze a data set of coupled high resolution ground-based thermal imagery and lidar data for two suburban neighbourhood study sites in Salt Lake City, UT.  This dataset provides high resolution urban structure and temperature information that will be used to re-construct a detailed three-dimensional surface of the thermal environment at these sites.  Combined with other available measurements of air and surface temperature from the project it will provide a unique dataset for assessing heat loading on pedestrians in urban neighbourhoods, the impacts of tree shading on urban microclimates, and the relationship between the full three-dimensional temperature environment of urban neighbourhoods with that observed from airborne or satellite-based sensors. 

Intern Required Qualifications: The student should have some experience with use of remote sensing data analysis, ideally related to thermal infrared wavelengths, lidar data analysis and some skills in MATLAB or equivalent scripting/programming skills.  The student will collaborate with other graduate students and scientists on the project from Canada and the US. Data from the project may be used as a basis for a student thesis if desired.