They come from across the country and locations abroad, but all College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES) summer interns have one goal in common: to work closely with a faculty mentor on an independent research project.
The students — 20 undergraduates from right here in Delaware and as far as France — arrived in early June to begin working on their research projects at the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. They’ll spend 10 weeks here.
A grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program funds about half of the internships, which are awarded to students in science, engineering, and mathematics. In 1987, the UD College of Marine and Earth Studies received its first summer internship grant and now has one of the longest-running programs in the nation.
Interns work with faculty and research staff on topics in chemical, physical, and biological oceanography; marine biology; marine geology; and marine biochemistry. While students work on their individual projects with their faculty mentor, they also attend weekly workshops and seminars presented by staff and obtain lab and field experience. They also will attend a daylong cruise in which they experience research at sea, aboard Captain Thomas White, a 26-foot research vessel in the UD fleet.
This summer, interns are working on diverse projects, including those that study organisms such as fish, microscopic algae, and bacteria. In the past, they have investigated microbes, salt-tolerant plants, blue crabs, climate conditions, and more.
Ana Dittel, research scientist in marine biosciences and coordinator of the REU program, said that internships are a valuable experience for undergraduates because they provide hands-on experience in the field and in the laboratory. In addition, internships help to enhance interns' critical thinking and problem-solving skills. She also said that the opportunity to conduct and present results of research contributes to professional development of students in their future careers.
“It is very rewarding to work with highly motivated students from undergraduate institutions across the country,” Dittel said. “It is also very rewarding to see former interns return to the college as graduate students because this is an indication that our program is a good mechanism for recruiting grad students.”
The following students are participating in the program with the support from NSF (each student’s hometown is listed in parenthesis): Catherine Caruso, Wellesley College (Belmont, Mass.); Elliot Friedman, Lehigh University (Wilton, Conn.); Morgan Gelinas, The College of William and Mary (Waterford, Conn.); Whitney Hook, Coastal Carolina University (Oak Ridge, Tenn.); Jessica Masterman, University of Wisconsin (Minneapolis, Minn.); Catarina Pien, Wellesley College (Cherry Hill, N.J.); Antonina Pinette, Muhlenberg College (South Portland, Maine); Leslie Rieck, Allegheny College (Columbus, Ohio); Cara Tacoma, Trinity Christian College (Cadillac, Mich.); and Marla Valentine, Salem College (Mobile, Ala.).
These students also are participating in the program with funding from other sources: Marc Buckley, Université Paris VI (Betton, France); Maella Drean, Université de Perpignan (Perpignan, France); Rachel Eubank, Virginia Tech (Lovettsville, Va.); Brielle Hayward, University of Delaware (Milton, Del.); Gail Huckins, University of Delaware (Southington, Conn.); Ishmael Khalid, Lincoln University (Philadelphia, Pa.); Kat McCole, University of Delaware (Wallingford, Pa.); Erin Murray, Lafayette College (Hockessin, Del.); Rusty Permeter, Stephen F. Austin State University (Joaquin, Texas); and Eric Wembacher, University of Delaware (Plainsboro, N.J.).
The program ends Aug. 8, when the interns give oral presentations that summarize their research and deliver their results in written scientific reports.
For more about UD’s College of Marine and Earth Studies, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.