Applied Science and Technology - Conservation Technology Internship in collaboration with Mara Elephant Project

Who You Are:

Have you always wanted to apply your technical education and your love of nature to a project that protects endangered species on a day-to-day basis?  With this unique internship, you don’t have to decide between a technical internship project and a deeply moving, important calling.  

To bridge the gap between Conservation and Technology, AI2 and Mara Elephant Project (MEP) are collaborating to launch a conservation-technology internship program designed to engage top students in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) related fields to work on applying artificial intelligence and related technologies to conservation problems. 

If this sounds like an opportunity you just can’t pass up, we encourage you to apply.

Who We Are:

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence is a non-profit research institute in Seattle founded by Paul Allen and headed by Professor Oren Etzioni. The core mission of AI2 is to contribute to humanity through high-impact research in artificial intelligence.  AI’s EarthRanger product is a software platform that addresses issues like wildlife poaching, illegal logging, promotion of human-wildlife coexistence, animal research, and conservation advocacy.

Founded in 2011, Mara Elephant Project is a non-profit conservation organization whose vision is to see the existence of a stable elephant population coexisting peacefully with people across the Greater Mara Ecosystem (GME). 


The Greater Mara Ecosystem (GME) in Kenya is a critical ecosystem given its biodiversity, large wildlife populations and rich cultural history. It forms the northern extent of the annual migration of 2.2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle from the Serengeti and is the most visited Kenyan tourist destination. The GME is host to 95 species of mammals and 550 species of birds. Latest census results estimate there are 2600 elephants.


Despite its status as one of the most beautiful and important wildlife areas in the world, the Mara faces significant conservation threats: 400 elephants have been illegally killed since 2012 and there has been a 60% increase in recorded human-elephant conflict (HEC) incidents since 2017. The expansion of agriculture, infrastructure and human populations is infringing into current elephant ranging areas and severing movement corridors. 50% of elephant range now falls outside of formally protected areas. 


The Mara Elephant Project (MEP) was started in 2011 in response to the high levels of elephant poaching experienced in East Africa. Using elephant GPS tracking, ranger teams, intelligence networks, aerial monitoring and close collaborations with partners such the Kenya Wildlife Service, MEP has protected elephants against ivory poaching, human-elephant conflict and loss of range, connectivity and habitat for the last decade.  


Beginning in 2017, MEP partnered with Vulcan Inc. and, more recently, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), to develop and deploy the EarthRanger protected area domain awareness system platform used to collect real-time information and perform analytics, turning data into actionable conservation information. 


Technology is increasingly playing a role in elephant conservation and protected area management. Geographic Information Systems, high-resolution satellite imagery, GPS tracking, camera traps, web mapping, cloud computing, machine learning and advanced databases are all becoming standard conservation tools. But many conservationists still come from a biology or wildlife management background and lack essential skills in these realms. Computer scientists, application developers, database developers and data analysts now have important roles in protecting Africa’s elephants especially in developing the evidence base against which future environmental changes and conservation metrics can be measured. 

Your Next Challenge:

To bridge the gap between Conservation and Technology, AI2 and MEP are together launching a conservation-technology internship program designed to engage top students in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) related fields to work on applying artificial intelligence and related technologies to conservation problems. 


An international undergraduate/graduate student will be paired with a local Kenyan undergraduate/graduate to jointly tackle a selected project that can form a part of their studies, will advance MEP’s mission to protect elephants and their habitats, and leverage and advance EarthRanger and its related technologies. 


During the 12 week internship, students will spend time based at the MEP HQ in Lemek Conservancy in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya to gain essential insight and field experience and foster cross-cultural knowledge transfer. 

What You’ll Need:

The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required to help us make a difference.

  • You are currently an undergraduate or graduate student in a STEM related field of study.
  • You have a great idea for an impactful project and the initiative to articulate your idea(s) in writing, then in practice.
  • You have an interest in ML/AI projects and the technical acumen to successfully implement and complete your project.
  • You have the ability to travel internationally.
  • You can show proof of vaccination or the ability to be fully vaccinated before your start date.

As part of the application process, please include a cover letter that includes your ideas/thoughts about potential projects and questions that you’d like to explore during the internship.

AI2 is proud to be an Equal Opportunity employer. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, sexual stereotypes, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable legally protected characteristics. 

If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at  or you may call us at 206-548-5600.

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