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Volume 1, Number 2
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Mentoring Tomorrow's Scientists


Class photograph of the 2002 REU students - by Alexander Zorach
Summer 2002 REU students pose before the orientation cruise at the beginning of their fellowships.

This summer marks the fourteenth year of Maryland Sea Grant's undergraduate fellowship program, an effort that has brought college students from Maine to Hawaii to the Chesapeake Bay to participate in marine research. Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program pairs students with scientist-mentors at three estuarine research labs, the Horn Point Laboratory and the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory - both part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science - and the Academy of Natural Science Estuarine Research Center.

The National Science Foundation began the REU program to provide undergraduates with a realistic sense of the scientific enterprise - the aim was to have them work in research labs with senior scientists as a way of promoting graduate education in the sciences. At the same time, NSF encouraged participation of women, minorities and the disabled. While participation in Maryland's program by minorities - African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans - and the disabled has been limited, that is hardly the case for women. Female applicants have outnumbered male applicants two to one, as has their participation.

Why so many female applicants? Many students applying for fellowships are biology and environmental science majors, which include a preponderance of women. At the same time, Sea Grant has worked to recruit undergraduate applicants in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

The REU program gets students out of the classroom and into an intense research environment. Working with their advisors, they develop a specific research project and, at summer's end, present their findings in a seminar and research paper. Projects range over diverse issues related to the Chesapeake, among them, estuarine processes, chemical contaminant cycling, fisheries, physical oceanography, the benthic environment and submerged aquatic vegetation.

Nearly 175 students have now participated in the Maryland Sea Grant program, 110 of them women. Over these years, quite a few students have co-authored peer-reviewed papers and presented their findings at national scientific meetings. During this time, NSF reviewers have given high ratings to the Maryland program, which began with 10 students in 1989, then was awarded funding to support 12 students each summer, and beginning in 1999, 14 students. This summer is the first of another three-year award.

The summer fellowships have proven a key influence for many students who have gone on to graduate school in marine and environmental sciences. Jim Hagy, an REU student in 1990, for example, returned to the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and recently completed his doctorate and is now at the EPA_Gulf Breeze Laboratory. Jill Stevenson, an REU student with Jeff Cornwell at the Horn Point Laboratory, came to CBL to work with David Secor, received an M.S. in fisheries, then went on to work at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration; she is now Deputy Director of Fisheries at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

"The REU program was a huge influence on the career path I decided to pursue," says Krista Karlsson, a 1996 fellow from George Washington University who went on to graduate studies in fisheries at Louisiana State University. "It helped me focus my interests in marine science. My advisor Dave Secor and his tech were both major influences on my development as a researcher." Karlsson's comments typify those of most REU students who were surveyed several years after they finished their undergraduate degrees.

Numbers of former fellows have completed or are pursuing Ph.D.s, though it remains too early to assess the direct effects that REU programs such as Maryland's have on improving the chances of academic careers for women.

For more about the REU program, student fellows, their projects and publications, see www.mdsg.umd.edu/programs/research/reu/ or contact Dr. Fredrika Moser, 301.403.4229, x 16.

REU 2002 Student Fellows

Paul Allen, Salisbury University. Mortality Index Determination for Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica, Seed Transport. Advisor: Donald Meritt, HPL.

Sarah Bjork, University of Maryland College Park. Effects of Osmotrophy on Growth and Pigmentation in Storeatula major. Advisor: Hugh McIntyre, HPL.

Elizabeth Day, Hampshire College. The Effects of Contaminated Sediments on Energy Allocation and Phenotype Diversity in the Grass Shrimp Palaemonetes pugio. Advisor: Chris Rowe, CBL.

Carrie Fleming, University of Kentucky. The Effects of Toxicity on Microzooplankton Grazing of the Dinoflagellate Karlodinium micrum. Advisor: Diane Stoecker, HPL.

Kelly Kearney, University of Miami. A Model for Nutrient Pathways in the Choptank River. Advisor: Bill Boicourt, HPL.

Elisabeth Kittredge, Mount Holyoke College. Biogeochemical Cycling in the Seagrass Bed Thalassia testudinum in Florida Bay and Zostera marina in Chesapeake Bay. Advisor: Michael Kemp, HPL.

Lisa Malkiel, University of Maryland College Park. The Impact of Food Concentration, Organism Density, and Chemical Facilitative Cues on the Feeding Mode and Growth of Macoma balthica. Advisor: Roberta Marinelli, CBL.

Keith McCullough, Savannah State University. The Effect of Bivalve Suspension Feeders (Mercenaria mercenaria) on Zooplankton Dynamics in Mesocosms with Tidal Resuspension and Realistic Water Column Turbulence. Advisor: Elka Porter, CBL.

Polly Squires, Utah State University. Heat Shock Expression in Zostera marina (Eelgrass) Placed in Different Stressful Water Temperatures. Advisor: Ian Davison, ANSERC.

Sarah Stein, University of Vermont. The Demise and Recovery of a Seagrass Habitat following a Barrier Island Overwash. Advisor: Evamaria Koch, HPL.

Timothy Teffeau, Salisbury University. The Use of Stable Isotopes to Determine the Uptake of Cadmium from Three Different Uptake Pathways on the Estuarine Fish Fundulus heteroclitus. Advisor: Fritz Riedel, ANSERC.

Lee von Kraus, Vassar College. Relative Significance of Suspended Sediment and Predation in the Shaping of Acartia tonsa Vertical Distribution/Migration Patterns. Advisor: Marie Bundy, ANSERC.

Marissa Yates, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Characterizing Suspended Sediments in the Estuarine Turbidity Maximum Zone of the Chesapeake Bay. Advisor: Larry Sanford, HPL.

Alexander Zorach, Oberlin University. Ascendency as a Quantitative Measure of Complexity. Advisor: Bob Ulanowicz, CBL.

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