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July 26, 2018
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Summer: Sun, Fun and Science

July 26 is National Intern Day

Nine high school students from around the country arrived at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium July 23 to begin a two-week Careers in Marine Science Seminar, joining two other high school students participating in a five-week internship and two college students in a 10-week internship program.

Five high school student interns are working at the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Several are from area high schools but most are involved in the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) Senior Research Program, Monmouth High School Senior Internship Program, and the Biotechnology High School Senior Internship Program.

These eighteen high school interns are among a large group of summer students working at various Northeast Fisheries Science Center laboratories this summer. Many are college students involved in NOAA supported programs like the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program, College-Supported Internships, Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) internships, and the NOAA Educational Partnership Program and Experiential Research & Training Opportunities.

Experience, learning are key

When asked what they liked best so far about their internships, the answers vary, from getting to know people who work on various projects and gaining a better understanding of the workings of the scientific community, to learning more about specific science topics, gaining experience, and helping to figure out future career paths.

"My favorite part of the internship so far has been getting to know the community in Woods Hole and learning about all of the different aspects of marine science the labs are tackling," said Zac Pinard, a senior at Oregon State University who is spending the summer working with whale researchers in the Protected Species Branch at the Woods Hole Laboratory as a NOAA Hollings Scholar.

Jessica Strzempko, a junior at Clark University, said the best part of her internship so far has been attending the summer science meeting of the Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. "Not only was I able to watch grad students and scientists present their research on freshwater and marine species but it provided me the chance to mingle with passionate individuals working in the fisheries science field. Additionally, there was a data management and validation workshop the day before that gave me an introduction to obtaining and manipulating data in an efficient and responsible manner. I had a great time at the workshop and meeting and would consider it a highlight of my internship!"

Others are American Fisheries Society Hutton Interns, or are participating in other internship programs like the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program, Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region (CINAR), the Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team (ASERT) internship program with the University of Maine, and the Five Colleges Consortium. Some interns are individuals who are not part of specific programs. They come from a variety of colleges and universities around the country.

"The best thing so far about my internship has been meeting a variety of individuals with different interests and experiences, as speaking with these people has helped guide my plans for my future education and career," said Ashley Kayser of the University of Maine, an intern through a NOAA and University of Maine cooperative program for the Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team (ASERT). "Gaining a better understanding of the workings of the scientific community here has helped me determine what I am most suited for and make appropriate plans for the future."

More Than 70 Summer Interns at the NEFSC

About 40 students are working at the Woods Hole Laboratory in various research divisions, while 21 students are working at the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Eight college students and two postdoctoral investigators are working at the Milford Laboratory in Milford, Connecticut. Nine students are participating in the ASERT internship program; two of them are working at the Woods Hole Laboratory, one at the Maine Field Station, two at the University of Maine and four at the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The Center's Oceans and Climate Branch is hosting two students from Washington College for 10-week summer internships through the College-Supported NOAA Internship Program at the Narragansett Laboratory in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Each location plans various activities for the students, ranging from weekly seminars and visits to other laboratories in the area to cookouts and other special events, all part of enjoying the summer while learning more about marine and environmental sciences, fisheries research, conservation and management.

Anthony Lima is a graduate student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. "My favorite aspect of working at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center for my internship is getting to know people who work on so many exciting NOAA projects," said Lima, who has a NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems internship. "There are many experts who work in all aspects of marine science, many studying topics like endangered species or whales that I find fascinating." 

At the Howard Laboratory in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, Nigel Lascelles has been studying plastics in the marine environment. "The best thing I have learned since being here is the data analysis of polymers that companies use to make plastics. The different polymers that we have found from unknown plastic samples throughout the United States show us why plastic pollution is a major issue in our bodies of water," said Lascelles, at graduate student at Florida A&M University and a NOAA Educational Partnership Program Scholar who is pursuing a master's degree in environmental science.  "Being able to use the Pyrolysis GC-MS and understanding the data that we have received from the chromatograms I feel is a jump start to what I plan on doing during the duration of my career."