2013 RACC Undergraduate Intern Bios

Back to photos of the RACC Undergraduate Interns

42 RACC summer interns have been placed with a research team of faculty and graduate students working on the transdisciplinary RACC research program. Read more about this year's interns below!

My name is Hanna Aronowitz; I am a rising senior in the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. I'm studying Natural Resources Ecology in the Rubenstein School, and minoring in Gender Studies. This summer I have the opportunity to join the Question 3 research team with Chris Koliba reviewing and describing town plans in the Missisquoi River and Mad River Valley watersheds.

My name is Danny Baker and I am a UVM student beginning my junior year this coming Fall. I am an Environmental Studies major and I am minoring in Community Development and Applied Economics. I am part of the Q3 research intern team under Chris Koliba, Asim Zia, Richard Kujawa, Yu-Shio Tsai, and Steve Scheinert. Champlain Basin Program's Opportunity for Action (OFA) and the total maximum daily load (TMDL) designate watershed management plans and practices for Lake Champlain. Under these documents, however, there exist more localized levels of watershed management policy. Town and municipal governments throughout Vermont often have varying policies related to watershed management. My work will largely consist of reviewing, coding, and analyzing municipal plans as well as management of related data sets. My project will give considerable focus to climate change impact scenarios and the response (or lack of) by regional governance.

My name is Justin Barton and I am a rising junior at the University of Vermont. My major is in Community Entrepreneurship. I am working on the Water Quality Valuation study with Chris Koliba, Asim Zia, Richard Kujawa, Yu-Shio Tsai, and Steve Scheinert. This is my first time working on a large research project and I am really enjoying it!

My name is Stephanie Cooke and I will be a first year dental hygiene student at Vermont Technical College this coming fall. I spent the last two years at the Community College of Vermont where I earned an Associate’s Degree and took many science and lab courses. This summer I will be working at Johnson State College with Dr. Genter to determine various sources of E. coli and its correlation to land use. I’m still working on my personal research question, but because I am hoping to be more involved in the clinical aspect of this project, I am therefore planning to conduct my own research that will help to answer some questions regarding the methods we commonly use in the lab and whether or not they are reliable.


My name is Michael Deganich and I am an Environmental Science major at Norwich University. I am working with the Q3 research team under Dr. Chris Koliba to examine how climate change has been dealt with from a social science aspect in the Missisquoi and Mad River Watersheds.

Hey! I'm María del Mar Díaz, a Biology senior at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. After my bachelor's degree, I plan to pursue a doctorate in Pharmacy. Since I like to branch out to other sciences, this summer I'll be working with Dr. Donald Ross in the analysis of soil nutrients in Lake Champlain. The goal is to determine phosphorus and nitrogen gradients along stream corridors, which cause algae blooms. About myself, I know Sign Language, love nature, animals, music. I also enjoy spending the day at rivers, forests, beaches and just hang out with friends!

Nick Dragone (Bio Coming Soon…)

My name is Carey Favaloro. I am a rising senior at Middlebury College studying Conservation Biology with a minor in Psychology. This summer I am working with Sallie Sheldon and several other research interns investigating the response of macroinvertebrates in Vermont streams following Tropical Storm Irene. When I'm not doing biology, I love spending time hiking, canoeing, climbing-- you name it! A large part of what attracts me about biology is the way it enhances and informs my outdoor experiences

My name is Reine Fowajuh and I am a rising junior at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. My major is Biology with minor in sociology and this summer I am working in the Rubenstein research lab at the University of Vermont trying to understand nutrient dynamics in the Missisquoi Bay. I am mainly working with Courtney Giles on testing Phosphorus sedimentation in the bay and the different types of Phosphorus particles located in the bay. I'm hoping to obtain a Ph.D. and this is my first research experience so I'm acquiring more knowledge on what I might research as a career.

My name is Arelis Enid Girona Dávila. I am a rising senior at the University of Puerto Rico, majoring in Environmental Science. I am working as an intern in Chris Koliba's Question 3 with the Governance Network Analysis Research & Modeling Methods. My research this summer will be focused on town scale zoning and policies near Lake Champlain. In the future, I will continue to graduate school to complete my masters in Environmental Policy and Law. My biggest interest is in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing.

My name is Cristina González and I am a senior at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus. I am studying a major in Environmental Sciences. This summer I will be working on RACC’s question 3 with Christopher Koliba, Yu-Shio Tsai, Steve Scheinert, Richard Kujawa and Asim Zia. Q3 team seeks to understand how can adaptive management interventions be designed, valued and implemented in the multi-jurisdictional region of Lake Champlain Basin. For my project I will be looking data of weather events in the region in order to evaluate and compare the town responses and adaptive management to these events.

My name is Dave Gullerat. I am attending college at CCV Winooski, studying environmental science and natural resources. The RACC question that our group is interested in is the effect of climate change on storms, storm water runoff and the suspended sediments in the streams and rivers and Lake Champlain. My mentor is Katie Chang. The research project that I am going focus on is the effects of storm water runoff in the Williston area, the fastest growing area in Vermont. I will also be researching the importance of wetlands as a tool to buffer our streams and rivers and aid in the absorption of nutrients. My interests center in the outdoors, a healthy clean environment, so that people may enjoy the outdoors in whatever way they choose. My future educational goals are to finish CCV and continue to a bachelor’s degree. I would enjoy working on clean drinking water in developing countries.

My name is Sarah Guth and I’m a rising junior at Middlebury College where I’m majoring in Environmental Studies and Biology. This summer, I’m working with Tom and Pat Manley, studying sediment circulation in Missisquoi Bay. For my independent project, I’m looking at how sediment characteristics and circulation patterns affect macroinvertebrate populations. Outside of conducting scientific research, I enjoy running, hiking, skiing, playing piano and reading.

Hi, my name is Edmund Harris; I am a senior at Johnson State College. I am working towards a double major in environmental science and natural resources. This summer I will be working with Professor Bob Genter at the Johnson State College environmental toxicology and streams lab. Our team will be testing 19 sites within the Lamoille River Basin. Our research will be focused on testing three different landuse types: urban, agriculture, and forested. My own independent research will be focused on the nutrient known as Phosphorus. The main contributor to algal blooms within the Lake Champlain Basin. I will use past and present data to determine if there is a correlation and/or statistical significance between the amount of area developed or undeveloped by streams and riversides and the amount of phosphorus present in nearby water test sites. I will be using GIS and data collected by the USGS to help me complete this project. In the future I am interested in improving water quality legislation and policy. I am passionate about food and interested in sustainable agriculture (Permaculture) and community development. In the future I can see myself working with communities and farmers to achieve better water quality by implementing scientifically proven management and development practices.

Jessica Hokenberg (Bio Coming Soon…)

My name is Lucas Jackson and I am an Environmental Science major at CCV-Rutland. I am working with Dr. Stephanie Hurley and PhD student Amanda Cording on the Bioretention Monitoring Systems at the UVM campus. In my free time, I am interested in developing food-growing systems that mimic nature and utilize native species in a seamless patchwork of cultivated and wild landscapes.

My name is Hannah Kittler, and I’m a rising junior Biology major at Saint Michael’s College. I’m working with Professor McCabe studying macroinvertebrate communities. My research includes studying how storms and different sediment coverage affect macroinvertebrates and their diversity. We will be taking ponar samples from Missisquoi Bay, then collecting and identifying the macroinvertebrates present. Some of my interests include traveling, playing tennis, dancing, and reading

My name is Carla Lopez Lloreda and I am a rising junior at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. I am an Environmental Science major completing a minor in Geography. During this summer I will be working with Dr. Declan McCabe in the Macroinvertebrate Lab at Saint Michael’s College. Outside of research and academia, I like to run, play soccer, read and garden. After completing my bachelor’s degree I plan to continue on to graduate studies and become an environmental consultant for communities and organizations in Puerto Rico.

My name is Nancy Luong, and I am a senior Environmental Studies major at Texas A&M University. I will be working on Q3 this summer with Dr. Koliba, Dr. Kujawa, Dr. Tsai, and Dr. Scheinert on climate change scenarios and adaption strategies for the Lake Champlain Basin. I wish to explore the links between predicted environmental impacts, plans to improve community resiliency, and the extent of current scientific research.

My name is Meghan Luther and I am a senior studying Biology at Johnson State College. This summer I am working with Dr. Robert Genter in the streams lab at JSC. My research question is going to be looking at nutrient and E. coli levels over a hydrograph during storm events. In the future I hope to go onto grad school for wildlife biology most likely at UVM.

I'm Allyson Makuch, a senior at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont. I self-designed my major, "Life Science Education through Sustainable Agriculture", to reflect my coursework and research in the fields of agriculture and science education. This summer I am working with Carol Adair of the Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources looking at how a warming world with less early winter snow influences nutrient retention, carbon storage and other factors in northern forest ecosystems. After finishing my undergraduate degree I plan on pursuing graduate studies in Soil Science. I am particularly interested in studying the relationship between soil ecology and above ground pest and disease presence.

Hello there, I’m Jessica Mailhot. As a rising sophomore at the University of Vermont I’ve only just begun studying environmental science, but it’s been a thrilling ride so far. After already being introduced to the Rubenstein Laboratory through a previous internship, I’m excited to take on a project of my own that reveals something new about nutrient dynamics in Lake Champlain. This summer I am working with Jason Stockwell, Peter Isles, Courtney Giles, Yaoyang Xu, Trevor Gearhart, and Andrew Schroth on maintaining the EPSCoR Buoy and eventually my own project. Soon I will be using FlowCam technology to document phytoplankton populations and sonde probes to analyze the vertical profile of Mississquoi Bay.

My name is Quin Mann and I am rising junior. I am an Environmental Science major in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont with a concentration in Natural Resources and a Political Science minor. This summer I will be working with Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux of the Geography Department at the University of Vermont. My research this summer focuses on analyzing heavy precipitation events in New England at a temporal and spatial scale.

My name is Veronica Matta Rosa and I am senior in Cell and Molecular Biology major at Universidad Metropolitana, Puerto Rico. This summer I have the opportunity to work in Linking Nutrient Dynamics to Food Webs in a Eutrophic System with Dr. Jason Stockwell at the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory at the University of Vermont. My research is focused on the Lake macronutrients. My future academic career plans is in PharmD or Pharmacology and Toxicology.

My name is Baxter Miatke and I am a junior Environmental Engineering major at the University of Vermont. My research with RACC is on Understanding Nutrient Dynamics in the Lake Champlain watershed. I am working with Andrew Schroth, and the rest of the team at the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory on Lake Champlain, while studying the environmental processes driving nutrient mobility and algal bloom dynamics. When I am not doing research, I enjoy hiking, skiing, and maple creemes. (Actually anything maple!) I hope to be a professional engineer in the future and work in water management/ remediation practices.

My name is David Minkoff and I'm entering my last year as a biology major at Johnson State College. I will be working with Dr. Robert Genter in the streams lab evaluating E. coli and water nutrient levels in tributaries of the Lamoille River. For my independent project I intend to explore possible correlations between E. coli levels/sources and proximal land use practices.

I'm Abigail Murphy, I'm a biology student at Johnson State College. For the summer I am working With Doctor Genter in the water testing lab. I am unsure of what my research question will be about, but I am hoping to do something with the E. coli data that we have collected this summer and in the past years. For my future plans I hope to be in grad school, but I am still unsure of where I want to go.

My name is Patrick Murphy. I will be transferring to UVM this coming school year, and will be starting as a computer science major. This summer I am working with Don Ross in the soil science lab at UVM, studying stream bank erosion and nutrient runoff into the Winooski and Missisquoi watersheds, with specific interest in phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations and their link to algal blooms in Lake Champlain.

Thomas Pausch (Bio Coming Soon…)

Devan Piniewski (Bio Coming Soon…)

My name is Thornton Ritz, I am currently a senior in fisheries biology at the University of Vermont. During this summer I will be working with question 1 at the Rubenstein Research Lab. My summer research will consist of stomach dissection of white perch to analyze the contents in relation to nutrient dynamics in Missisquoi Bay. I am very interested in fisheries and the role that fish play in the aquatic trophic system.

My name is Paloma Rodriguez Rivera and I am a senior at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. My mayor is Environmental Science and I plan to go to Soil Science graduate school. My research question is Q1 and I am working with nutrients and particle distribution of the soils in the Mad River bank and near fields with Dr. Ross at t the Soil Science Laboratory at the University of Vermont for this summer.

My name is Robert K. Ryan, I’m a rising junior at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez (UPRM). My major is in Livestock Industries combined with the Pre-Vet program. During the summer I’m going to work closely with my mentor Dr. Declan McCabe from the Biology Department (Community Ecology and Water Chemistry) and other interns. The project I’m working in is about the Effects of Sedimentation and High Water Events on Macroinvertebrate Communities. During the summer we'll be taking samples of benthic macroinvertebrates for identification and samples of sediments from these streams for sieve analysis. Identification will provide a benthic index that can be used to estimate the conditions of benthic communities after different storm events and help us with our research project. Many of my interest are volunteering at a local animal shelter, playing video games and fun outdoor activities (such as running, soccer...). Biology has been a great part of my life, one I cannot stop pursuing. My future career plans are to finish my studies at UPRM and continue my studies at a veterinarian university. After that I’m sure I’ll make the right career choice further along my path.

My name is Darren Schibler, and I am a senior in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. My interests in biogeochemistry have led me to my work this summer on RACC Question 1 examining the links between trace metals and nutrient loading on algae blooms in Lake Champlain under Dr. Andrew Schroth in the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Lab. In my copious spare time, I play traditional music and perform on several folk dance teams. I hope to stay in the Burlington area as I pursue a career in ecological research and/or consulting while attending grad school.

My name is Emily Secor and I am a rising senior in the Rubenstein School at the University of Vermont. I am majoring in Natural Resource Ecology due to my strong interest in learning how natural processes function. This summer I am working with Don Ross on a project that identifies soil nutrients in Lake Champlain stream corridors to better understand how nutrients end up in a watershed.

My name is Carlos Sian and I am a rising junior at Saint Michael's College, majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. I am interning in the Water Quality Laboratory at Saint Michael's College under the direction of Katie Chang. Our research consists of testing water samples from streams in the Missisquoi and Winooski watersheds for total suspended solids (TSS), which indicate whether or not there is poor water quality at the watersheds. Outside of the laboratory I enjoy traveling, photography, reading, music, watching movies and hanging out with family and friends. Once I complete my Bachelors of Science degree in Biology at Saint Michael's College, I plan on attending graduate school to study Public Health with a focus on Microbiology and Epidemiology. I will definitely do the Peace Corps at some point in my life!

My name is Marissa Smith and I am a rising senior at Saint Michael’s College. I am majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics. This summer I am working with Katie Chang in the Water Quality Laboratory based at Saint Michael’s in collaboration with others working on Question 1 of the RACC research effort. We will be testing water samples from streams in the Missisquoi and Winooski watersheds for total suspended solids (TSS). I'm also going to be independently studying the varying levels of TSS and total phosphorus at different points of the Winooski Watershed.

My name is Dana Vesty! I am rising junior in the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources. I have a double minor of Chemistry and Geospatial Technologies. This summer, I am working with Drs. Pat and Tom Manley, exploring the physical dimensions of Missisquoi Bay, as well as the sediment and circulation patterns. My own independent project will be concerning where different sediment grain sizes settle in the Bay, using a bathymetry map that I will create. Outside of the research, I enjoy the great outdoors, swimming and hiking. I also love to bake!

My name is Catherine Wielgasz and I am a rising sophomore at Castleton State College. I am an Environmental Science major with minors in both Mathematics and Chemistry. This summer, I have had the amazing opportunity to work in the Rubenstein Laboratory at the University of Vermont under the administration of Dr. Andrew Schroth, Jason Stockwell, Courtney Giles, Trevor Gearhart, Pete Isles, and Yaoyang Xu. My summer project consists of studying and analyzing the amount of metals within the watershed of Lake Champlain. Though I am not certain of what I will do after I graduate, I know that this internship will assist me in deciding my future career path.

My name is Emily Wiggans and this fall I will be a junior at the University of Vermont, studying Environmental Science with a focus on Environmental Analysis and Assessment, and I am also minoring in Astronomy. I will be working on Modeling Watershed Management Practices and Nutrient Loading to Lake Champlain this summer with Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed at UVM. I look forward to developing a research question based on analyzing historical trends of nutrient loading based on land cover practices in namely the Winooski and Missisquoi River watersheds. I glad to be a part of the collaboration between scientists who are collecting and analyzing data and policy makers who can implement change and educate the public based on our results. I plan to pursue a Master's degree or a PhD following my undergraduate experience at UVM.

My name is Eva Williford and I attend the University Of Vermont. I am majoring in mathematics with a minor in economics. I am working with Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux on Quantifying Climate Variability and Change via Statistical, Geospatial and Modeling Techniques. I love to sail and spend time with family and friends on the Lake. I plan to attend graduate school in the future.

My name is Atem John Yak and a 4th year student at Vermont Technical College (VTC). Since I go to a technical college, my profile will be unique from other students involved in this research program. I am a Computer Information Technology (CIS) major with a concentration in web application programing. This summer I will be working on integrated multidiscipline research question (Q1) at the University of Vermont with Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed investigating how different management practices (changes in agriculture/urbanization/forest landscapes) in watersheds draining to Lake Champlain would affect stream flow nutrient/phosphorous loadings to the lake. I am excited about this opportunity because it will be my first time doing an independent research and hopes to learn as much as possible of it methodologies and to add another dimension to my arrays of technical skills.

I am glad I have had an opportunity to be involved in RACC Internship program this summer because the skills I will gain from doing this research will definitely become handy when I work on my capstone project this fall. After graduation, I would like to travel outside the country and perhaps visit Africa and in particular “the Sudans” where I was born. I would also like to back to school and earn a master in technology in education and become an educator. In long run, I would like to go and teach in developing nations where technology is limited.