Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Student Stories

Katie Martin is discovering the different ways septic wastewater is contaminating local waterways.

Katie Martin, a Ph. D. candidate under Dr. Michael Gonsior, is researching different ways to tell if septic wastewater is contaminating local waterways. Some of the tools they use are measuring artificial sweeteners and chemicals from soaps and detergents. Everyone produces waste that then pollutes the environment, and this contamination can have health effects on people and the ecosystem. It is important to have tools to understand where wastewater and the chemicals from wastewater are ending up, and to understand the composition of wastewater to be able to treat it.

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Zoraida Pérez-Delgado is testing climate model sensitivity to historic volcanic eruptions using coral records

Zoraida Pérez Delgado, a master's student studying under Dr. Hali Kilbourne at UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, has been using coral records from the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Ocean to understand how volcanic events have historically impacted precipitation and temperature over the last 400 years. By understanding how our climate has changed in the past, scientists like Zoraida hope to improve models used to predict future changes that have been accelerated by the burning of fossil fuels. She has recently been awarded a place in the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program that awards early-career professionals with one-year fellowships working in federal government offices in Washington, D.C.  

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Study of Arctic algae 'puts a microscope up to climate change

"I wanted to see how the environmental variables in the water column related to the different types of phytoplankton we saw. If we can understand the mechanisms that drive phytoplankton community structure, maybe we can forecast what could happen in the future—if the phytoplankton communities will change under future conditions of less sea ice during the summer.”

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Student Startup by Suzan Shahrestani, Minnowtech, Makes a Splash in Accelerate Baltimore Program

“I’ve devoted my academic career to advancing solutions for food sustainability in environmentally conscious ways. As an entrepreneur I’m able to put what I’ve learned into action,” 

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Kevin Kahover, understanding how oysters' filter-feeding activity affects water quality

"Understanding how these parameters are affected by oyster reefs allows us to predict what environmental benefits we can expect to see from constructing oyster reefs (apart from simply increasing local oyster populations). The model will also give managers insight into how to build reef to maximize these environmental benefits and ecosystem services."

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Jenna Luek, understanding diverse chemicals present in hydraulic fracturing fluids and wastewaters

"In my hometown, hydraulic fracturing took off while I was studying chemistry and environmental science in college. Everyone had so many questions about what was in the fluid and if they should lease out their land to drilling and hydraulic fracturing companies. We are still trying to sort out a lot of questions about the fluids in the scientific community, particularly about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing and whether they are toxic."

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Jacob Oster, understanding mercury accumulation in streams

"Maryland has several rivers and numerous lakes and reservoirs with fish consumption advisories for elevated mercury levels... By studying the route of mercury into fish (what the fish are eating), we may be able to better understand how mercury accumulates."

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Hadley McIntosh, understanding methane concentration in the Arctic

"Future projections of climate change could be very different if you have all the right information for these Arctic systems. That’s part of what I’m trying to do—to develop initial information so we can put together future projections for climate change."

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Reed Brodnik, understanding population dynamics of black sea bass

"Black sea bass are economically and ecologically important throughout their range. My research will help to better describe the life history and seasonal movement patterns of this species to aid resource managers in making informed decisions about how to best proceed in managing this resource in the future."

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