Summertime and the living is far from easy for nine undergraduates who have taken on the challenge of the Marine Sciences Summer Internship Program at the University of Delaware's Graduate College of Marine Studies. During the 10-week program, the students immerse themselves in graduate-level marine science research under the guidance of CMS faculty. The program, now in its 13th year, is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
"The internship program introduces talented students from a variety of academic backgrounds to the marine sciences," says the program's director, oceanography professor Jonathan H. Sharp. "These students interact with marine scientists, gaining hands-on experience and insight into the world of marine research. They also learn how to present their research findings in seminars. We look for students who excel in science and who are interested in the subject matter."
The interns arrived at the University's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes on June 7. In addition to working on individual research projects throughout the summer, the interns learn basic techniques for gathering data and samples at sea on a research cruise aboard the college's 120-foot vessel, the R/V Cape Henlopen. The interns are as varied as their reasons for wanting to participate.
Heather Patterson, a native of El Granada, Calif., is working with Dr. John Boyer to investigate how cell wall molecules are inserted into the cell wall during plant growth. She is using the confocal microscope to see in detail the fine structures of large algae cells.
"Before this internship, I hadn't worked with molecular techniques," says Patterson, a senior marine and freshwater biology major at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. "I had only worked with the whole plant structure. Working with the smaller structures is hard. But the bigger the challenge, the more determined I get."
Andrea LePard, of East Hartford, Conn., is investigating the possible effects of the moon and tidal cycle on the hatching of the Japanese shore crab, an exotic species, with Dr. Charles Epifanio.
"Lab work is new for me," says LePard, a senior in wildlife biology/management at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. "I designed my own experiment and built my own crab cages. This program is what the real world of science is about. It is a great experience."
"I felt lucky to get into the program," says Jude Szczerba, of Wilmington, Del. "I like the facilities and the interactive nature of the program. It's very well organized and has given me a good idea of what graduate school would be like."
Szczerba is a senior majoring in biology and theology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. With Dr. Doug Miller, he is examining the formation of the "coral beds" of the Delaware Bay. Produced by worms, these beds provide an important haven for fish.
The following students complete this year's group of undergraduate interns:
Emily Chandler, of Madison, Conn., is a senior majoring in biology at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. With Dr. Jonathan Sharp, she is using stable isotopes to investigate the carbon and nitrogen uptake and exchange by phytoplankton in the Delaware Estuary. Phytoplankton forms the base of the marine food chain.
Stacy DeRuiter, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is a senior biology major at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She is working with Dr. Patrick Gaffney to analyze the population genetics of Patagonian toothfish using molecular techniques.
Tracy Phelps, of Niceville, Fla., is a senior majoring in mathematics and environmental studies at Brevard College in Brevard, N.C. Working with Drs. William Ullman and Kuo-Chuin Wong, she is collecting field data and analyzing existing current meter data to characterize volume and salt transport through Indian River Inlet.
Kara Sedwick, of Groveport, Ohio, is a senior majoring in physics and general science secondary education at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. With Dr. Ferris Webster, she is studying whitecap wave production of sea-salt aerosols and their effects on radiative cooling of the Earth's atmosphere.
Rebekah Walker, of Glen Rock, Pa., is a senior majoring in biology at St. Mary's College of Maryland in St. Mary's City. She and Dr. Jack Gallagher are researching both chemical and mechanical means by which a barrier plant can block the regrowth of Phragmites, an invasive plant in marshland areas.
Lisa Webster, of Wilmington, Del., is a junior in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. She is working with Dr. Craig Cary using molecular methods to identify some of the bacteria associated with the dinoflagellate Pfiesteria piscicida. This microbe has been responsible for extensive fish kills in the Mid-Atlantic area.
The interns, selected from a national pool of applicants, will be working in Lewes until August 15. They will all receive college credit for their work.