College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment summer interns with instructors Evelyn Maurmeyer and Ana Dittel.

UD Interns: Marine studies

CEOE's NSF-supported summer internship program enters 25th year

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(Editor's note: UD Interns is an occasional series that looks at enriching internship opportunities enjoyed by University of Delaware students, and provided by UD to students from other institutions.)

1:40 p.m., July 13, 2012--As a double major in math and biology, St. Mary’s College senior Cara Simpson was excited to find a way to combine her two interests with an internship at the University of Delaware this summer: She is helping crunch numbers to figure out how wind speed affects shark-tracking equipment. 

“That’s definitely what hooked me into choosing this program,” the aspiring marine scientist said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity.”

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Simpson is participating in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment’s highly competitive summer marine science intern program, established 25 years ago as one of the first nationwide. With an acceptance rate only around 3 percent, the program is supported in large part by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU).

Based on their interests, selected students are matched with faculty and spend 10 weeks conducting graduate-level research at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. Interns work on topics in chemical, physical and biological oceanography; marine biology; marine geology; and marine biochemistry. This summer, their projects focus on a wide range of issues including horseshoe crab habitats, sea spray and marine vision.

The interns conduct fieldwork, work in labs, participate in workshops and take part in activities such as a marsh walk and daylong boat trip. 

Recently they toured Cape Henlopen State Park with Evelyn Maurmeyer, adjunct professor environmental consultant, and for a discussion of the beach, sand dune and maritime forest environments found there. Starting at the observation tower, the interns learned about beach erosion, currents, sediment transport and geologic features.

Other interns on campus for the summer join activities such as these, including students from Lincoln University, Delaware Technical Community College and UD.

“They come from all different programs, but they all participate in the activities and workshops,” said UD scientist Ana Dittel, who oversees the interns.

Over the past quarter century, Dittel said, the program gradually started to integrate more field trips and workshops. The interns also no longer stay in former military barracks in the state park, which lack air conditioning and internet: They now reside in UD’s Franklin C. Daiber Residence Complex.

Lincoln University biology major Brandon Williams said he is weighing career options during his internship studying temperature adaptations of the Capitella worm with Adam Marsh, associate professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy.

“I figured it was a new experience, and I wanted to see the different aspects of marine biology,” Williams said. 

The internship program ends Aug. 10, when the students present their research findings to their peers. 

The following students are participating in the program and are pictured in the group photo above:

Front (left to right): Brandon Williams (Lincoln University), Michelle Penkrot (University of Miami), Cara Simpson (St. Mary’s College of Maryland), Will Gayne-Maynard (Carleton College), Shannon Owings (UD), Eric Yoder (Delaware Technical Community College), Kaila Capello (Villanova University).

Middle: Hannah Blair (Arkansas State University), Dana Rollison (University of Michigan), Sarah Bennett (Georgia State University), Mark Lehtonen (St. Mary’s College of Maryland), Megan Nogan (UD), Danielle Lifavi (UD).

Back: Evelyn Maurmeyer (UD faculty), Tyler Davidson (Delaware Technical Community College), Terrell Carter (Lincoln University), Paul Spencer (Delaware Technical Community College), John Richardson (Syracuse University), Ana Dittel (UD faculty), Jonathan Dinman (UD), Isata Panda (Lincoln University), Olivia Graham (Claremont McKenna College), Scott Miller (Clemson University), Jacob Steinberg (University of Maryland).

Article and photos by Teresa Messmore

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