Thirteen college and university students from around the world are having the opportunity to sample graduate-school life at the University of Delaware's College of Marine Studies as they participate in the annual summer intern program at the college's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Throughout the summer, the students will attend various seminars, workshops, and field trips on topics in the marine sciences. The students also will discover what it is like to conduct "research at sea" as they participate in a one-day research cruise aboard the university's 26-foot research vessel, Captain White.
However, the main focus of the intern program is to give each student the opportunity to design and complete an original research project, under the guidance of faculty mentors. These projects are tailored to the interests of the students. Last year, for example, students investigated topics ranging from invasive species in the Delaware Bay to global climate change.
The summer intern program is funded primarily by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. This program provides grants to host institutions, such as the College of Marine Studies, to encourage undergraduate students to pursue graduate work in various science and engineering fields. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel. The college received its first grant from the NSF in 1987 and now has one of the longest-running summer intern programs of this nature in the nation.
"I was thrilled to hear that NSF was renewing our grant for another five years," says Ana Dittel, a research scientist in marine biology-biochemistry and director of the summer intern program. "The program has been invaluable for introducing a diverse student population to the fundamentals of marine science through independent research."
Dittel notes that the program has been a good mechanism for recruiting graduate students to the college -- in particular, underrepresented ethnic groups and women. In addition, approximately 67% of the female interns have gone on to do graduate work in environmental science.
The following students are participating in the summer intern program with support from NSF: Alex Andon, from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; Matthew Aschaffenburg, from Colby College in Waterville, Maine; Diane Bushman, from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon; Christi Colton, from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia; Nolberto Figueroa Matias, from the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan; Lindsey Holm, from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California; Catherine House, from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina; Keith Moodhe, from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia; Elizabeth Pierce, from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Maia Tatinclaux, from the University of Delaware.
In addition, Scott Baker, from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York: Katelyn Christopher, from Radford College in Canberra, Australia; Darren Dolly, from Lincoln University in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania; and Erin McDowell, from the University of Delaware, have received funding from other sources and will be participating in the intern program.
The intern program ends on August 12th with the students giving an oral presentation of their research findings and delivering their results in the form of a written scientific report.