Research Internships for Undergraduates
With support from two programs funded by the National Science Foundation (Research Experiences for Undergraduates - REU) and (Research Internships in Ocean Sciences - RIOS), HSRL provides paid internships for undergraduate students to spend a summer at one of the HSRL facilities where they conduct individual research projects under the guidance of an HSRL faculty member.
Ryan Harner, Ryan Harner, a senior in Environmental Science from Stockton University, joined the team to study the population characteristics of Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus). Ryan sampled summer flounder on board recreational for-hire vessesls and measured, and took sex data for all discarded fish. His results suggest that there are regional and seasonal trends in the discarded fish, such that males tend to be larger in the north, and more males enter the catch as the season progresses. .
Rachel Marshall, a RIOS intern and senior from the University of Rhode Island studies the sex ratios of discarded summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in the New Jersey recreational fishery. Rachel’s results showed that a high proportion of the discarded fish (smaller than the legal size limit) are males; whereas the catch (those bigger than the limit) were largely females.
Rachel Sheppard, a RIOS intern from the University of Massachusetts helped with sampling plankton in Barnegat Bay and Little Egg Harbor. Her results showed that the plankton composition varies throughout the BBLEH system, and that bivalve larvae are found throughout.
Francesca Rosilli, a RIOS intern and senior at Rutgers studied the population biology of Oyster Toadfish, Opsanus tau, in New Jersey Estuaries. She sampled fish from both the Delaware Bay and Barnegat Bay, examining weight, length, sex, maturity and age of each fish. Comparison between estuaries suggested that the two populations may differ in growth and timing of spawning.
Courtney Chchran, a RIOS intern and senior from Texas Christian University, studied the effects of global fisheries on waved whelk (Buccinum undatum) size of maturity and growth. In her research, Courtney used a wide meta-analysis of the literature to examine the patterns among global stocks and compared those to samples taken in from the MidAtlantic. Her results suggest that global stocks may change in response to fishing, with size of maturity decreasing with fishing pressure.
Collin Dobson, a RIOS intern and senior at Rutgers studied the Waved Whelk (Buccinum undatum) in the mid-Atlantic Bight, focusing on the biology of the commercial catch and its population distribution. He found significant differences in whelk phenotypes among fishing locations, suggesting limited population connectivity.
Laura Gray, a senior at Oberlin College, and a RIOS intern, investigated sediment characteristics governing biological productivity in ancient clam gardens. Results of this work suggested that increased shell hash in surface sediments and greater fractions of subsurface sediment of a large grain size may contribute to observed enhancement of clam biomass in clam gardens compared to control beaches.
Lauren Huey, a senior REU from Rutgers University, studied competition for food and suspended particles, including the agent of dermo disease, Perkinsus marinus, between oysters and filter-feeding tunicates living on the oysters. Results of her work will show whether consumption of P. marinus by tunicates reduced the rate at which oysters became infected with the pathogen, a phenomenon she calls commensal dilution.
Joseph (Packy) Looney, a senior in the Marine Sciences Program at Rutgers, and an REU intern, examined mortality patterns and levels of waterborne pathogens at varying salinities, with focus on the parasite, Perkinsus marinus, cause of dermo disease in oysters. His results showing a strong positive effect of salinity on mortality of this pathogen in seawater. These results will be used in mathematical modeling studies of marine parasites.
William Schroer, a senior at Allegheny College and an REU intern, studied the the effect of the tidal cycle on levels of Vibrio bacteria in intertidal aquacultured oysters. A few members of this group of bacteria may cause illness in human consumers, thus this project will provide information that could help decisions about when during the tidal cycle is the best time to harvest.
Kurt Cheng, a junior from Rutgers investigated the potential use of ribbed mussels as filters to capture oyster parasites.
Jenny Paterno, a sophomore at Stockton College, analyzed bouyancy and sedimentation of Perkinsus marinus (Dermo disease pathogen) to help determine mechanisms of dispersal through the water.
Gail Bradbury, a Rutgers junior, investigated the genetic differentiation of oysters in Delaware Bay and its relationship with disease.
Joshua Kauffman, from Rutgers University, pursued a study entitled "The sexual preferences of Perkinsus marinus".
Douglas Zemeckis, also a student at Rutgers University, carried out a project on “Early summer transmission of Perkinsus marinus to eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, in two Delaware Bay tributaries”.
Josh and Doug attended the 2009 meeting of the National Shellfisheries Association in Savannah, GA, where they presented posters describing their studies. Both were rising Seniors. Doug graduated and is attending graduate school at UMass Dartmouth to work on Cod. Josh is finishing up some course requirements this summer.
Thomas Evans, from Juniata College in Pennsylvania, conducted research on a project entitled “Using microsatellites to determine if two rivers in the Delaware Bay are supporting disease refugia for the eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) populations”.
Jeffrey Pydeski, a student at West Virginia University, studied “The role of transmission and infection in establishing refugia from two protozoan oyster diseases in Delaware Bay”.
Posters describing their research, which were prepared by Tom and Jeff, were presented at the annual principal investigators meeting (Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Programs) in Albuquerque, NM in December 2007; and at the National Shellfisheries Association meeting in Providence, RI in April, 2008. Both were rising Seniors who have since graduated and gone to work in fisheries in Alaska: Tom as a foreign fishery observer and Jeff in salmon fisheries.