Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center

Summer Internship 2016 Blog

2016, at a glance

2016 marked the 15th year of the LMRCSC summer program and led by Dr. Rosemary Jagus. Through her tireless leadership, Dr. Jagus has seen many alumni of the program go on to graduate school then research and government positions. Some recent alumni now have positions or fellowships with federal agencies such as NOAA and NSF, or state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources. We are sure that many of them attribute their success to the support of the LMRCSC.

LMRCSC Science Day - August 5

On the final day of the 2016 summer program, students presented their work in front of their peers, faculty mentors, lab mates, and families. Each intern gave a 15-minute presentation. They applied the tools they learned from IAN in designing their PowerPoint presentations, putting together the data and their presentation styles. It was a job well done!

Meeting a NSF program officer - July 27

Through IMET’s Seminar Series, the interns had the opportunity to have lunch with National Science Foundation (NSF) Program Officer Dr. Roland Roberts. Formerly of Towson University, Dr. Roberts spoke with the interns to provide advice for the proposal process. Students do not need to wait until they have their Ph.Ds to follow this advice- it applies to fellowships, graduate school and research grants. His key points were to continue to apply for competitive programs, even after rejection. They had already heard this from graduate student Jan Vicente, who applied for NOAA’s Nancy Foster Fellowship multiple times before success.

Communicating science effectively - July 21

The interns took a “Communicating Science Effectively” course UMCES’ Integration & Application Network in Annapolis. This half day course provided background on the importance of communicating science followed by learning activities and practical advice. IAN’s expertise in creating simple, accessible communication makes the unit a valuable resource to the interns. Through their Pictionary-esque game of “Conceptionary,” the interns attempted to create brief, effective conceptual diagrams to show environmental processes, such as the effects of chicken manure runoff on the Chesapeake Bay and harmful algae blooms. By keeping their message simple, interns are able to ensure that their audience understands their message. The course was followed by a tour of Annapolis with a sweet ending of some ice cream.

Two Different approaches to Marine Science - July 15

Here at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, students learn about many different approaches to scientific questions. Two of the LMRCSC graduate students, Jan Vicente and Ammar Hanif, presented their research to the interns. While they are both marine microbiologists, their Ph.D. projects consist of very different approaches. Jan researches symbiotic relationships in sponges. His field research involves scuba diving to observe the sponges in their natural state and to collect samples to bring back to the lab. Once in the lab, he replicates various environments to run his experiments. fortunately for Jan, this field work has brought him to Hawaii, the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico and Panama! Ammar’s research on menhaden, a small feeder fish found in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, involves much less time on the boat and much more time using DNA barcoding as a biodiversity assessment tool. While he still dissects the fish and completes some field collections, the majority of his research is analyzing the high throughput data for analysis. Both approaches have their own merit, and many times it comes down to the fact where a student’s research questions lead them.

Benefits of earning a master's degree first - July 8

IMET Ph.D. candidate David Marsan took time away from the home stretch of his Ph.D. program to speak with the LMRCSC interns. While at IMET, David was funded by the LMRCSC, then became a fellow of the Ratcliffe Environmental Entrepreneurship program. Getting a masters prior to your PhD can allow you to transfer all relevant credits, thus streamlining your graduate program. It also gives you the self-confidence to plot your own course and focus in on a research topic quickly. Try to maximize your opportunities through internships and extracurricular  graduate programs to gain additional skill sets. For example, the training David received helped him land a job at pharmaceutical company Glaxo Smith Kline prior to even defending his dissertation!

A former LMRCSC intern offers advice

Chiamaka Nnah is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and a returning LMRCSC Intern. Last summer, she worked with Dr. Eric Schott to research crab disease and other shellfish viruses. This year, she is interning with Dr. Yantao Li using lipid analysis in algal biofuel production. In her own words:

"LMRCSC is a great internship experience. It allows you to work with other groups of students from different schools as well PhD scientists. In this internship you learn a lot of important process such PCR, Gel Electrophoresis, TCL plates, and much more.  This internship is very hands on and informative about genetics, microbiology, chemistry, and biology. Even if you are not interested in being a scientist, this internship will still help you in deciding what you want to do and how to get there. I was involved in this internship the summer of 2015 and 2016. Comparing last year experiences to now, I believe both experience are very similar. I’m still learning and getting better. After doing this internship in the summer of 2015, I was offered a job and it helped me get an A in my microbiology class. Also I was invited to present at the NOAA EPP Forum in New York because of the LMRCSC internship experiment I did last year. I am glad to be a part of this internship for 2 years. I know this internship will open doorways to other opportunities to students, like it has done for me."  

Opportunities provided by LMRCSC - July 1

One of the most valuable resources that IMET offers its summer interns is access to

graduate students. At this week’s weekly mentoring session, students met with Shadaesha (Shae) Green. Shae discussed her project with the deep sea red crabs and talked about how important her various summer internships were in defining her academic goals. Internships may help guide students toward a new passion, or help them rule out what they don’t like to do. For Shae, early internships helped her realize the types of field work that she liked and did not like. Her undergraduate internship at IMET led her to the realization that she has a passion for running experiments and enjoys molecular biology. After that summer, Shae added a minor in biology to her majors at Hampton University.


Shae also discussed the many opportunities that LMRCSC has provided her. As an undergraduate, funds from LMRCSC allowed her to present at conferences. Travel funds for her graduate studies have taken her to meetings in Las Vegas and to Cape Cod, and on multiple research cruises. Don’t let the word cruise fool you- this is no vacation! Five to 10 days spent on a research vessel, trawling the floor of the Chesapeake Bay, then sorting and categorizing what they pull up. Many vessels have very few amenities, so the researchers are roughing it.

Shae’s advice to the interns was to take advantage of the many doors that the LMRCSC program opens. They should network at NOAA EPP events, find community with their fellow interns, and seek advice from LMRCSC graduate students. As Dr. Jagus says, "Once LMRCSC, always LMRCSC," so alumni and mentors are always happy to guide undergraduate students.

Learning how molecular biology influences change

LMRCSC summer interns met with IMET faculty member and LMRCSC mentor Dr. Eric Schott to discuss how the molecular biology techniques learned during their summer at IMET can be used to influence change in our everyday lives. Dr. Schott presented research completed in partnership Dr. Wolf Pecher at the University of Baltimore and collaboration with Blue Water Baltimore, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Their project analyzed the types of fecal matter (yes, THAT fecal matter) f

Eric Schott
ound in the Baltimore City watersheds using molecular assays. Current EPA standards only measure whether fecal matter is present in a water source, counting culturable Fecal Indicator Bacteria. This indicator is used to note when fecal matter is present in a water source, which can indicate the presence of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. However, the fecal indicator method does not differentiate among the various types of fecal matter that may be present in a water source, such as excrement from farm animals, wildlife, pet waste or human fecal matter from malfunctioning sewer systems.

Dr. Schott and his collaborators used the same types of genome-targeted analysis that interns will be using throughout the summer on their own projects. The researchers produced evidence that genome-targeted analyses could provide the City of Baltimore, EPA and other stakeholders more accurate data that could assist in providing cost-effective solutions to pollution issues faced in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For example, in areas where the fecal matter in the watershed is primarily human waste, it is clear that the sewer infrastructure needs repair. However, areas that have a significant amount of pet waste in the water may require different action. More specific data based on molecular methods could play a major role in how local and federal agencies implement policies and regulation. 

Congratulations graduate!

Congratulations to Manuel Olmeda, LMRCSC summer intern in 2014, upon his graduation from the University of Puerto Rico and his admission to graduate school! Manuel interned with Dr. Yantao Li during his summer at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology. Since then, he has interned with the USDA and volunteered in a coral restoration program. 

This fall, Manuel begins the Biological Oceanography Graduate Program at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. He will be studying native or exotic fish from the area with a focus on ecology, populations and conservation. We know that Manuel will have a successful academic career and hope that he continues to advocate for the LMRCSC.

LMRCSC alum Kate Gillespie offers advice - June 17

Dr. Kate Gillespie (on the left in the photo) earned her Ph.D. in 2015 with University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.

Congratulations, you have earne

d your college degree! Then comes the dreaded question, ”So, what do I want to do now?” Choosing your path in any career can seem daunting, but entering a graduate program in biological science comes with it’s own unique career complexities. Here is my anecdotal advice for the question you should be asking yourself: Do I want to go into Academia, Industry, or “Other”?

If considering academia: You must have a PhD to be a professor. Choose to pursue a postdoctoral position (but not too long).  You will have to publish, know how to write proposals and grants for funding, and have some teaching experience.

If considering industry: Learn biotechnology/genomic tools and GLP (Good lab practice) skills. Having masters can be very marketable, but only lateral advancement. PhD positions are available, but more specialized.

If considering “other”: You may become an entrepreneur, so having a Ph.D. would be desirable. Try to expand your science through other avenues: i.e.: policy, science communication, technology transfer, nonprofit consultant, etc.

My best advice is to decide early in your graduate career which major branch you want to pursue, and set up the groundwork to achieve this accordingly.

Shadaesha Green presents to the Board of Regents - June 10

Third-Year Ph.D. student Shadaesha Green presented her research at the Board of Regents' June meeting, held at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Lab. Along with three other UMCES students, Green discussed her research on the endocrinology of deep sea red crabs and its influence on East Coast fisheries. A native of the Bronx, Shadaesha is funded by the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center. She was first introduced to the LMRCSC during her summer internship at IMET while she was an undergraduate at partner institution Hampton University. The research she conducted that summer lead her into her current research project today. Shadaesha hopes to compare and contrast the populations of deep sea red crabs in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Welcome Interns! - June 6

The Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology is pleased to welcome its summer class of 2016 interns. This year’s group includes students from University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and more. For many students, the 9-week Living Marine Summer Internship program is their first experience working on an independent research project. Throughout the summer, students will learn microbiology techniques, how to use bioanalytical equipment in the BAS Lab, time management and presentation skills. At the end of the program, students will give a formal presentation to their fellow interns, IMET faculty, family and friends. These presentations will summarize their two months of research and use the skills developed here at IMET. With the help of weekly mentoring sessions with Dr. Rosemary Jagus, LMRCSC Program Director at IMET, one-on-one mentoring from IMET faculty and presentations from LMRCSC Graduate Students, the LMRCSC interns are set up for success this summer and in their future academic endeavor.