2013 Summer Internship Program

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The Center for Urban Waters welcomed seven student interns for the summer of 2013. This was the third year of the internship program, which offered students and recent graduates the chance to work with post-doctoral and professional scientists on a range of research projects - from field sampling and lab work to multimedia production for the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.  Interns in 2013 hailed from the University of Washington Tacoma, Brown University, Reed College and Whitman College.  Read below for more information about the interns and their projects!

2013 Interns

Megan Hintz received her Environmental Science degree from the University of Washington Tacoma in June 2013.  She will be investigating different methods to remove phosphorus from stormwater.  Phosphorus concentrations in stormwater runoff are generally elevated and can negatively impact sensitive receiving waters.  Wapato Lake in Tacoma is susceptible to eutrophication (the excessive growth of algae) and various clean up strategies have been tried.  The current investigation will compare different types of treatments in terms of phosphorus removal.  We are particularly interested in using waste products from drinking water treatment systems for phosphorus control.  If effective, this method can be utilized in many areas as stormwater contamination is a nearly ubiquitous problem in built environments.

Bryan Huebner graduated from the University of Washington Tacoma in June with a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. 
Hiram Moran received his bachelor's degree in Biology from Whitman College in 2012.  
Bryan and Hiram are assisting Dr. Francis with the forage fish project.  This project is assessing the availability of eelgrass around Puget Sound to determine whether eelgrass is indeed the highest-quality habitat for herring, and if there is enough of this high-quality habitat available for spawning herring. Is eelgrass at spawning sites used in the same proportion that it occurs, or is there eelgrass that goes unused by spawning herring? To answer this question, we are analyzing historical survey data collected by Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife during herring surveys, describing the location and extent of nearshore vegetation along with the presence/absence of herring spawn. Using these data, we will be able to assess the degree to which trends in herring populations are associated with trends in nearshore vegetation. We will also be able to specifically assess the historical availability and use of eelgrass as spawning substrate.
Our intern team is helping us digitize and geo-reference this dataset, and will assess historical changes in spawning substrate and peak spawn timing at multiple herring spawning sites.
Jocelyn Patterson, a sophomore at the University of Washington Tacoma, is part of a project team focused on evaluating the potential water quality impacts of the invasive species Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius).  Scotch Broom often grows in areas that have been disturbed by logging and construction and, once established, is extremely difficult to eradicate.  It also serves as the symbiotic host to the nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria, which can transform atmospheric nitrogen gas to ammonia.  This is beneficial to the plant as it provides nutrients for it to grow.  However, an abundance of Scotch Broom in a watershed may lead to excess nitrogen export into nearby water bodies including the Puget Sound, which may lead to water quality issues.  Jocelyn will perform a study to estimate the amount of nitrogen that is exported from laboratory mesocosms containing 1) Scotch Broom, 2) a similar shrub that does not support Rhizobium (or nitrogen fixing activities), or 3) native, unplanted soils.
David Schoenfeld is entering his senior year at the University of Washington Tacoma, and will undertake two primary projects during his internship at CUW.  The first will be with fellow CUW intern Jocelyn Patterson, evaluating the potential water quality impacts of the invasive species Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius).   David's contribution to the Scotch Broom project will be to utilize various geographical information sources and studies to evaluate the extent of Scotch Broom growth in selected watersheds.
David's second area of focus will be to investigate the impacts of shoreline armoring along stretches of the Puget Sound shoreline.  He (along with fellow interns) will perform a set of physical shoreline surveys to compare the characteristics of armored vs. unarmored beaches.

Jake Strickland is currently attending Reed College where he is pursuing a bachelor's degree in English. 
Alex Yuly graduated from Brown University with a bachelor's degree in Electronic Music and Multimedia and is currently attending the University of Washington Tacoma, where he is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Systems.
For scientists and policymakers to make informed decisions, they must have ready access to the best-available, most relevant scientific information. These days, that information comes in many different forms, and multimedia is an important part of the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound
Jake and Alex will assist with multimedia production and research at the Encyclopedia this year. Projects range from gathering and editing of audio/visual resources to assistance with Puget Sound Voices, a series of interviews with scientists and innovators who have been influential in Puget Sound protection and restoration. Interns will hone their technical and communications skills while gaining professional experience at one of the region's leading science communication websites.