Many college students take the summer off to work at the shore in an effort to build up their bank accounts as well as their suntans. This summer, through a special program at the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS), nine students are banking valuable hands-on experience that may help open the door to their future careers.
The 1998 Marine Sciences Summer Internship Program, a 10-week program supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, provides students who are working toward their bachelor's degrees with the opportunity to test the waters of graduate-level marine science research under the guidance of CMS faculty. This year's class of nine students was selected from a national pool of more than 150 outstanding applicants.
"There are only 15 marine science summer intern programs around the country," said CMS oceanography professor Jonathan H. Sharp, who directs the Delaware program. "Our program, which began in 1987, is one of the oldest and has had continuous funding from the National Science Foundation."
The goal of the CMS summer internship program is to introduce talented students from a variety of academic backgrounds to the marine sciences. These students interact with CMS oceanographers and marine biologists, gaining hands-on experience and insight into the world of marine science research.
"We look for students who excel in basic science and engineering and who are interested in learning more about how they can apply their skills to the marine realm," Sharp noted. "For many of the interns, this is their first experience not only with marine science but also with the conduct of independent research."
The interns arrived at the University's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes on June 8. Since then, they have been working on individual research projects under the guidance of their respective CMS faculty mentors. The interns have also been attending weekly seminars on marine research and participated in a three-day research cruise aboard the college's 120-foot research vessel, Cape Henlopen. Several of the students carried out part of their research projects on the cruise. The students will present oral and written reports of their work before their internships conclude on August 14.
The following students are participating in this year's program:
Sarah Cooley of Hockessin, Delaware, is a senior chemistry major at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. Working with Dr. Jonathan Sharp, she is investigating the bioavailability of trace metals, particularly iron, to microscopic plants called phytoplankton and bacteria in the Delaware Bay. Scientists have learned that a lack of iron in marine waters can limit the growth of phytoplankton and bacteria.
Antonio Golubski of Chicago, Illinois, is a senior marine science and biology major at the University of Miami. He is working to isolate the effects of tidal fluctuations on Fucus vesiculosis, a species of brown algae, with Dr. John Boyer. Marine plants such as brown algae are much more tolerant of desiccation than land plants. Scientists are working to understand how these plants can live with limited water to help enhance the development of more dehydration-tolerant crop plants.
Will Lowe of Wilmington, Delaware, is a senior majoring in music theory and computer science at the University of Delaware. Under the guidance of Dr. Ferris Webster, he is investigating possible correlations between the notorious weather phenomenon El Niño and variations in the flow of the Delaware River.
Casuarina McKinney-Richards of Governor's Harbor, Bahamas, is a senior majoring in biology and environmental science and policy at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. With Dr. Charles Epifanio, she is researching the chemical cues that influence the settlement of mud crab larvae to the bay bottom for growth. Mud crabs are a major predator of oysters and clams.
Liza M. Pacheco of Patillas, Puerto Rico, is a senior chemical engineering major at the University of Puerto Rico's Mayagüez campus. She is working with Dr. William Ullman to obtain lead-free calcium carbonate from algae for human consumption.
Frances Pustizzi of Newfield, New Jersey, is a senior marine sciences major at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. She and Dr. David Hutchins are examining the effects of different light and nutrient levels on brown tides. These harmful algal blooms have been powerful enough to destroy the bay scallop fishery in Long Island, New York, which was once worth millions of dollars.
Josh Sementi of Coeur D'alene, Idaho, is a senior mechanical engineering major at the University of Idaho. Under the guidance of Dr. Richard Garvine, he is modeling what happens, due to ocean currents, to the blue crab larvae spawned off the New Jersey coast.
Phoebe T. Smith of Manhattan, Kansas, is a senior majoring in biology and French at the University of Kansas. Her summer project, with Dr. Doug Miller, entails the reconnaissance of the "coral beds" in Delaware Bay and the identification of the marine worms that form them. Composed of patches of worm tubes, the "coral beds" are known locally as a fishing hot spot.
Elana Wallenstein of Teaneck, New Jersey, is a senior biology major at Columbia University in New York. She's studying variations in genetic markers between North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and other geographical groups of oysters with Dr. Patrick Gaffney. This research is aimed at helping scientists narrow their search for the disease-resistance genes that will help the once-prolific American oyster rebound from the parasitic diseases MSX and Dermo.
For more information about the CMS summer internship program, please visit the program's Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu/interns/intern.html, or contact Dr. Sharp at email@example.com.