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CLEH - globe in a drop of water on a leaf

This is a paid 10-week summer environmental internship for undergraduate students who are passionate about the environment, interested in human health, and curious about how they are linked.

A healthy environment should sustain a healthy population; however, with over 7 billion people on the earth, there is a need for more sustainable interactions between humans and the environment. Environmental issues such as overpopulation, air pollution, food shortage, natural disasters, water contamination, and exposure to toxic substances provide challenges to human health. Human influence on the environment is the main focus of environmental studies; however there is a growing need to evaluate the effect that the environment has on human populations.

Harmful environments can increase the risk of many health conditions: asthma, heart disease, cancer, neurological disease, infections, endocrine dysfunction, injuries, and more. Healthy environments, on the other hand, can promote good health in many ways—protecting people from toxic exposures, providing safe water and clean air, and encouraging healthy behaviors such as outdoor recreation.

The link between the environment and health is aptly referred to as “environmental health.” Environmental health as a discipline focuses on the interrelationships between people and their environment, promotes human health and well-being, and fosters safe and healthy living. This branch of public health is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health.

Environmental health professionals engage in a broad and exciting range of activities—basic and applied research, surveillance and tracking, direct health protection efforts such as disaster preparedness and response, health education, patient care, policy support, and more. For students interested in the environment, health, or both, few fields are more fascinating.

Interns will be placed in environmental health programs at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) at CDC in Atlanta, GA (please note, the CDC has multiple locations in Atlanta and CLEH interns will be reporting to CDC’s Chamblee Campus and not CDC’s Roybal campus (the main CDC campus)). Over the course of the summer, interns will be exposed to a broad overview of environmental public health issues at the federal level.

Interns will participate in a comprehensive program including environmental health project assignments, interaction with federal officials and scientists, and visits to important environmental health sites in and around Atlanta. Other activities include "brown-bag" lunches with CDC staff, as well as attending lectures from prominent environmental health leaders in the Atlanta area. In addition, interns will be able to attend the many seminars offered by CDC during the summer.

The number of intern positions is dependent on funds available. A stipend of approximately $600 per week will be provided to each intern for living expenses. Travel to Atlanta will be the intern’s responsibility. Potential housing options will be provided on the housing page; however, interns will be expected to make their own arrangements.

2009 group photo of interns

"I was first intrigued by this internship because I saw the word “environmental” in it. Although I knew of public health, I never saw the relationship between environment and public health or considered public health a career option for me. Through lectures given by environmental and public health professionals, and just working at the CDC, I feel like I have a much better understanding of the term “environmental health.”(2009 Intern - Becky Lyons)


The application period for the 2014 Collegiate Leaders in Environmental Health internship will open in mid-November; please stay tuned for more details.

  • Application deadline: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 (Application)
  • Notification to intern of acceptance: Friday, March 14, 2014
  • Acceptance of internship offer by student and initiation of paperwork: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
  • Internship dates: Wednesday, Wednesday, June 11, 2014 – Friday, August 15, 2014

Note: CDC has partnered with The Department of Energy (DOE)/Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the implementation of this program. CDC will review applications and make final award selections.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. US citizenship or Permanent Resident with a green card
  2. Full time enrollment at a college or university as a rising junior or rising senior by fall 2014
  3. Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and
  4. An academic major or demonstrated coursework concentration in environmental studies, environmental, physical, biological chemical and/or social sciences (if applicants are not majoring in one of these areas they can make the case for why their major or interests are applicable to this internship in essay #2)

Note: Seniors graduating in Spring 2014 will not be accepted to this program.

Other Important Information

  1. Commitment on the part of the participant, CDC, or ORISE with regard to later employment is neither implied, nor should it be inferred by the offer or acceptance of an award
  2. Health-insurance is a prerequisite and mandatory for all participants
  3. Deferrals of the internship will not be allowed
  4. All participants are considered guest researchers and are subject to CDC regulations governing visiting scientists, engineers, other professionals, and students to determine their access to the hosting venue and eligibility for an internship
  5. As a guest researcher, each participant is responsible for payment of income taxes and is advised to become familiar with the relevant sections of the current tax codes
  6. Participation in the program is contingent upon the individual's ability to obtain the proper security clearance
  7. All applicants will be subject to a criminal records check and other background investigations conducted by the U.S. Government. These inquiries are conducted to develop information to assess various factors about the applicant, including reliability, trustworthiness, honesty, integrity, character, conduct and loyalty to the United States

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