As interns, we were privileged enough to be exposed to the vast range of research projects carried out by ACWG and other museum scientists. Such projects included the Invasion of the Common Myna across the Australian east coast and the construction of a genetic reference library for the insects found as part of a bird diet analysis for Darwin International Airport. We dealt with hundreds of feathers and insect samples (over 200 of each!), but that was just the beginning. As the projects progressed we did a huge number of DNA extractions, amplified target genes using a process called Polymerase Chain Reaction and analysed our data. We also assisted in other important lab tasks, such as helping with a chemical audit by updating all the safety data sheets for chemicals kept in the lab. We’ve done it all.

There’s so much more than meets the eye in a lab like this. All three of us were astonished by the Museum’s extensive collections. We were lucky enough to get a few behind the scenes tours of the comprehensive ornithology and mammal collections, including some extinct Australian species that can only been seen at a museum, including thylacines!

2017 DNA Interns
Our summer 2017 ACWG interns in the DNA lab, processing some samples. Image: Greta Frankham
© Australian Museum

One of the most memorable moments was when Sir David Attenborough visited the Australian Museum and was presented with a Lifetime Patron Award. We were allowed to join the rest of the AM staff in greeting him in the Museum atrium. On top of this we were invited to seminars and social events allowing great networking opportunities with the wider Australian Museum staff cohort.

The Australian Museum really is the whole package, and the ACWG internship offers a glimpse at the vast range of work carried out by it's awesome and experienced team! We learnt about the ACWG’s diagnostic work for industry and government departments including its wildlife airstrike program and wildlife forensic case work as well as their scientists' contribution to the Museum’s vast collections and exhibitions. We have gained skills and experiences which will become invaluable as we build our own scientific careers. We feel extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and will be very sad to leave, as there are always thrilling projects occurring in ACWG laboratories.

Aaron Parker, Isabella Contador-Kelsall and Mandy Wong - Summer Interns, Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics

We would like to say a huge thank you to the AMRI team, including Dr Greta Frankham, Dr Linda Neaves, Andrew King, Scott Ginn, Dr Matthew Lott, Kyle Ewart and Dr Richard Major. Without your hospitality, time and expertise, our short time here would not have been so rewarding.