2018 Summer Internship Position Descriptions


Ecological Systems
        Topic Area:
Lake chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes (biogeochemistry)

Physical Location: University of Vermont
Number of Positions Available: 2
Faculty: Andrew Schroth and Jason Stockwell
Mentor: Graduate student Wilton Burns and research technical professional Saul Blocher

Research Description:
Interns are sought to join the Ecological Systems team, and specifically the lake biogeochemistry group that is working to understand the processes that affect timing and intensity of summer blue-green algae blooms in Lake Champlain. The Basin Resilience to Extreme Events (BREE) grant has an emphasis on the role of extreme weather events on the movement of nutrients that feed the blooms. Interns will join this exciting team and help deploy an advanced sensor network in Lake Champlain and assist in weekly water sampling and laboratory prep work. Interns will use water quality data from the sensors with guidance from a designated mentor. Interns will learn how to interpret nutrient concentration data to determine seasonal nutrient dynamics and impacts of extreme events. We are looking for undergraduate students to join our team that are interested in working with big data, participating in a demanding but rewarding summer field season, and taking a hands-on approach to learning about the biogeochemistry of Lake Champlain. Manual labor in sensor deployment is required and interns should be prepared for weekly field sampling in a variety of weather conditions. Interns will also spend time on small research vessels in the Lake.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:
Experience with computer programming are plus but not required. However, ability to swim is required.

Structure:
These positions will involve a mix of laboratory and field work out on Lake Champlain. Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD).
Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the entire Ecology Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.


Team: Ecological

Topic Area: Biogeochemistry/ Environmental Microbiology

Physical Location: UVM

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty: Carol Adair, Andrew Schroth, Julia Perdrial

Mentor: Brittany Lancellotti

Research Description:
The watershed group is interested in how nutrients that feed algal blooms move through terrestrial ecosystems within the Lake Champlain Basin, as these processes have significant impacts on the Lake’s water quality. Areas close to river and stream edges (riparian areas) are of specific interest because of their ability to sequester and transform nutrients prior to entering waterways. To better understand which soil characteristics promote the most effective nutrient transformations, we will investigate how microbial populations vary between riparian areas of different land use and soil saturation. Soil monitoring/sampling networks were installed in four different riparian sites to track fluctuations in gas emissions and soil properties. We will link these soil monitoring data with microbial (gene abundance and expression) data to the better describe the biogeochemical processes occurring within these sites.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:
Prospective interns will have an interest in biogeochemistry and/or environmental microbiology and experience working in a classroom laboratory setting. Pipetting and experience working in a sterile environment are desired but not imperative. Interns should have experience working with Microsoft Excel .

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD). Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the entire Ecology Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.


Team: Ecological Team

Topic Area: Watershed and Soil Biogeochemistry

Physical Location: UVM

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty: Andrew Schroth, Carol Adair, Beverley Wemple

Mentor: Postdoc Erin Seybold

Research Description:
Students will participate in ongoing research that seeks to understand the influence of soil biogeochemical processes in riparian wetlands on water quality and promoting resilience to extreme events. The students will collect and analyze water and soil samples in combination with high-frequency sensor data from river edge wetlands (in agricultural and forested watersheds) to understand how carbon and nitrogen are processed and retained in these environments.

Students will collect samples from multiple different water sources in the wetland (groundwater, soil water, and stream water) and analyze them for carbon, nitrogen, and other key elemental concentrations, and will also learn to maintain and gather data from a network of cutting edge soil sensors. The students on this project will be able to utilize samples collected during snowmelt period/prior to their arrival to get a head start on their projects, while also continuing their sampling over the course of the summer internship. Interns will assist with field sampling, sensor maintenance, laboratory analyses, data analysis, and presentation of results.

Specific Skills/Experiences Required:
The most important qualification is a desire to learn new skills and an interest in working in diverse settings (field, lab, office). Students will be required at times to spend long days outside and should be able to engage in physical labor (carrying heavy back packs, augering holes in soil). Other helpful but not required skills include experience with Microsoft Excel, R, or Matlab.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD). Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the entire Ecology Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.

This project will provide an opportunity to experience a combination of lab, field, and office work. Students will be in the field approximately once per week to collect samples, and will be responsible for running these samples in the lab as well as conducting preliminary analyses of the data.


Team: Ecological Team

Topic Area: River suspended sediment monitoring and machine learning

Physical Location: UVM

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty: Donna Rizzo and Mandar Dewoolkar

Mentor: Scott Hamshaw and Doug Denu

Research Description:
Interns will participate in ongoing research in understanding the relationship of suspended sediment concentration and river discharge during storm events through the use of high-frequency monitoring and “machine learning.” Interns will work alongside mentors to install, monitor, and gather in-stream turbidity and river level data from multiple locations along a river. Interns will also coordinate with other intern groups to collect and analyze water quality samples collected from automated samplers at the monitoring sites. Interns will then be shown how to download, pre-process, perform quality assurance, and analyze the data.

Interns will also be included in cutting-edge research into identifying patterns in the suspended sediment and discharge data from storm events. With guidance, interns will test the application of “machine learning” and “deep learning” computational methods for visual pattern recognition. Interns will use data already collected as part of the project and potentially new data collected from the monitoring station locations.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:
Proficient in Microsoft Excel. Experience with water quality sampling, GIS, or basic programming (Matlab, Python, or R) desired.

Structure:
Work will take place both in the field at river monitoring sites and in the EPSCoR office. Interns will likely be in the field at least once every week. Primary mentors will interact with interns on an almost daily basis, with tasks given to the intern on days when face-to-face interaction is not possible. There will be biweekly Ecology group meetings that will have a primary mentor (grad student/post doc) and/or one of the faculty advisors give a ~20 minute research talk that also illustrates how their research fits into the larger context of BREE. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks in their respective labs.


        Topic Area: Watershed Hydrology and Water Quality

Physical Location: University of Vermont

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty: Dr. Arne Bomblies, Dr. Beverley Wemple, Dr. Stephanie Hurley

Mentor: Daniel Demers, PhD Student

Research Description:
Interns are sought to join the Ecological Systems team, and specifically the sub-team studying
watershed hydrology and stormwater modeling. Intern projects could focus a combination of activities:

  • Collecting field data from different stream tributaries in one or more Vermont watersheds using Auto samplers and other equipment to examine runoff from the watershed during and in-between storm events.
  • Conducting library research to help identify relevant literature on “green infrastructure” intervention in other settings, with the goal of estimating important parameter values.
  • Participating in simple modeling exercises to estimate nutrient retention effects of selected interventions.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:
Applicants should identify any experience they may have with programming or statistical software (examples: MS Excel, GIS software, R, Python, MATLAB) or engineering field skills (examples: surveying or hydrological data collection). Relevant but not required coursework could include chemistry, hydrology, hydraulics, mathematics, programming, or other water-related topics. Applicants must be able to lift up to 50 pounds and work in inclement weather.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD).
Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the entire Ecology Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.


        Topic Area: Water Quality Analysis

Location: St. Michael’s College

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty Advisor: Declan McCabe

Mentor: Senior Research Technician Janel Roberge

Research Description:
Interns are sought to join the Ecological Systems team, and specifically the sub-team studying suspended solids that move from the watershed to the lake. Work will include collecting, analyzing, and evaluating water samples in the Lake Champlain Basin. Data collected inform watershed and stormwater models. Field work will involve the installation of and regular visits to study sites where automated equipment collects stream samples. In the lab, interns will be trained in basic laboratory procedures, safety, and water quality assays. Other techniques and concepts in water quality sampling and stream ecology will also be covered. Interns will rotate performing specific lab and field tasks to ensure that they become experienced in all facets of the work.

Student Learning Objectives include:

  • Conduct proper laboratory practices, including safety, water quality analyses, and QAQC protocols.
  • Perform data analysis and create a professional presentation.
  • Become experts with the use of automated water quality sampling equipment in a field work setting.

Specific Skills/Experiences Required:
Interns must be willing to perform somewhat physically taxing work in the elements as part of field work. Interns must be adaptable/flexible to accommodate whatever work needs to be done, sometimes switching quickly from field work to benchwork to administrative tasks such as literature research. Knowledge of water analysis is not necessary, though a basic understanding of general laboratory practices is preferred.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD).
Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the entire Ecology Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.


Social Systems
        Topic Area:
Simulating Humans in Land Use Models

Physical Location: University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty: Asim Zia and Chris Koliba

Mentor: Elizabeth Doran

Research Description:
An Intern is sought to join the Social Systems team, and specifically the sub-team studying a model to understand future land cover types and distribution within the study area watershed under different scenarios of extreme events and policy assumptions. Individual agents control land cover, as well as the adoption of best management practices (BMPs) that also affect down-stream water quality. The intern will help to develop the agent managing forest cover in the model. A unique set of BMPs and land use decisions exists for each type of agent. To assist in building out the forester agents, the intern will contribute to the following:

  • Within a preferred agent-based modeling (ABM) environment, learn how to develop the rules and behaviors of the forester on literature review and available data. Some data collection may be required;
  • Experience how to collect and analyze information related to the use of best management practices (BMP) that can be implemented by Foresters within the model; and,
  • Help to develop a survey instrument that will be used to assess the practices and decision drivers of foresters and forest land owners within the study area.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:
Environmental Science & Forestry background is highly preferred; interest in modeling is required; familiarity with Anylogic and/or Mason is preferred but not required; Familiarity with Java is a plus.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD).
Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the entire Social Systems Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.


        Topic Area: Water governance networks

Physical Location: University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty: Chris Koliba, Professor

Mentor: Patrick Bitterman, Postdoctoral Associate

Research Description:
Interns are sought to join the Social Systems team, and specifically the sub-team constructing a model of governance processes in the Lake Champlain Basin to better understand how the various groups and institutions interact to create and manage policies that affect water quality. Interns will assist in the development of these models by collecting and analyzing data related to interactions among groups and institutions. The work will contribute to an increased understanding of Lake Champlain Basin governance. Interns will:

  • Assist in statistical analysis of governance network data from surveys of Vermont municipalities and institutions.
  • Help analyze governance documents (e.g., meeting minutes) to determine how groups interact, and the strength of ties among groups/institutions.
  • Review academic literature in project-relevant areas.
  • Assist in the planning and management of stakeholder focus groups.
  • Attend public meetings, take notes, and prepare reports in order to obtain baseline qualitative knowledge of group functions.
  • Identify and collect public datasets related to stormwater management in Vermont municipalities. Data help generate future surveys and models about the role of municipalities in water quality.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:
Applicants should possess general computing skills, including experience with spreadsheet (e.g., Excel) and word processing software. Programming experience is helpful. Strong organizational skills are required.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD). Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the entire Social Systems Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.


        Topic Area: Hazard Mitigation and Water Quality Governance

Physical Location: University of Vermont

Number of Positions Available: 2

Faculty: Dr. Richard Kujawa and Dr. Clare Ginger

Mentor: Dr. Richard Kujawa and Dr. Clare Ginger

Research Description:
Interns are sought to join the Social Systems team, and specifically the sub-team examining local and regional efforts in Vermont to increase watershed and lake resilience to climate change by looking at policy development and implementation. This will include the following:

  • Help to collect and interpret town-level planning data that characterize local and regional capacities for resilience
  • Help with a synthesis of town-scale stormwater management capacity with broader elements of the governance of climate change identified from the examination of resilience efforts.
  • Assist with the analysis of focus group data from Clean Water Advisory Committees.
  • Help with the examination of decision support tools to characterize how they are being used and may be used by local officials.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:

  • A course or prior experience in environmental or land use policy, law, planning, or management
  • Introductory knowledge about climate change and its implications for human settlements
  • Curiosity about social dimensions of environment and natural resource management
  • Computer skills for using the internet and spreadsheets to gather, organize, and enter data
  • Interest in learning and applying data analysis (qualitative and quantitative) skills
  • Interpersonal skills and interest in interacting with local and regional planners and managers

Training and support for spreadsheet database management and analysis will be provided.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD).
Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the Social Systems Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks. Interns’ daily work occurs in an office environment. Interns may also use the Bailey Howe Library at the University of Vermont as a research site. Some field experience will likely be part of the internship (to include individual and group interviews, phone interviews, archival work at the State Archive and other appropriate work). 


        Topic Area: Simulating Humans in an Agent Based System

Location: University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Number of Positions Available: Up to 2

Faculty: Asim Zia

Mentor: Kevin Andrew

Description:
Interns are sought to join the Social Systems team, and specifically the sub-team constructing the Integrated Assessment Model of the Lake Champlain Basin. A key component of the Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) is an agent based model (ABM) that simulates the behavior of individuals and acting bodies in the Lake Champlain Basin. Intern(s) will assist in the calibration, training, and programming artificial agents in an ABM using reinforcement learning techniques to help better model the observed behavior of actors when confronted with extreme environmental scenarios. Cross-validation testing and statistical analysis will be used to verify the model and compare results against known experimental data.

Specific Skills/Experience Desired:
Some programming or statistical proficiency is a plus; this project will be computationally intensive.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD).
Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the Social Systems or IAM Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.


Team: Climate Team

Topic Area: Hydroclimatology

Physical Location: 23 Mansfield Ave.

Number of Positions: 2

Faculty: Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux and Arne Bomblies

Mentor: Caitlin Crossett and Alan Betts

Research Description:
A goal of the climate team is to determine how flooding events arise within the Northeast US. The hydroclimatology intern will perform analysis on past extreme flooding events within the Northeast US, and examine how the antecedent land-surface conditions impact the intensity and duration of a flooding event. By knowing how flooding events have emerged in the past, one can make better predictions of how they may look from a climatological perspective in the future.
Analysis will combine past weather and land-surface data to classify extreme events within the Northeast US, to determine the primary synoptic modes and more specifically, the meososcale dynamics associated with these flooding events. Datasets that may be used include: USGS stream gauge data, ERA5 reanalysis data, and remotely sensed data.

Specific Skills/Experiences Desired:
Comfortable coding in MATLAB, Python or a similar computer programming language.

Structure:
Interns will work with mentors four days per week and on the fifth attend weekly workshops sponsored by the Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD).
Tasks will be assigned on days when face-to-face interaction of mentor with intern is not possible. There will be bi-weekly meetings with the Climate Team that will have research talks that illustrate how their research fits into the larger context EPSCoR research. This will be followed by intern group updates on how they have spent the previous two weeks.