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FALL 2010
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Interns Spend 11 Weeks Immersed in Aquatic Ecology

By Molly Cronin ’11

Summer 2010 interns
JoAnne Getchonis

Summer 2010 interns (front row): Kathleen Marean, Jennifer Sun, Mark Baran, and Katie Halpin; (back row): Jose Oyola, Rosy Cohane-Mann, Cara Schwartz, and Allison Hrycik.

For students in the life sciences looking for both practical lab skills and hand-dirtying fieldwork, the Cornell Biological Field Station provides them with summer internships to work with mentor scientists on a wide range of ecological research projects.

“There really is no substitute for hands-on experience,” says Randy Jackson, associate director at the field station and senior research associate. “We hope that the projects our interns participate in put a face on the theories that they learn in the classroom.”

Based in Bridgeport, N.Y., on Oneida Lake—about 75 miles northeast of Ithaca—the Cornell Biological Field Station’s goal is to study fisheries and aquatic ecology in New York state, particularly in the Oneida Lake region. John Forney, PhD ’57, and Edward Mills, MS ’72, PhD ’75, initiated the intern program in the late 1970s, and since then, undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty have come together each summer to collaborate on research initiatives. Living and working at the field station, students earn three credits for their research on such diverse topics as bird nesting patterns, hydroacoustics, and invasive shrimps.

Students also have the opportunity to attend a summer seminar series at the field station, where they can discuss their research with speakers from all over the world.

“The core research program—aquatic studies—has continued for over 50 years and consists of both applied and basic studies,” says David Green, MS ’62, PhD ’82, a retired professor of natural resources who worked at the field station. “It has involved a wide range of participants from Cornell, other universities and laboratories, and state and federal agencies, especially the fisheries program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”

This summer, eight undergraduates spent 11 weeks at the field station, each working on research projects.

“My job was to go out on the boat about twice a week to tag and monitor tern [a seabird closely related to gulls] nests, count the number of eggs or chicks in each nest, and tag the tern chicks,” explains Cara Schwartz ’13, as she prepared to present her findings to fellow researchers at the field station and write a report for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“I have learned many different field techniques and some lab techniques used in fisheries science, says Kathleen Marean ’11, who worked with the Warm Water Fisheries Unit at the field station. “I’ve also learned that this is something I love doing and would be happy to make a long career out of it.”

Jackson adds, “Every summer is different in terms of the projects, but one constant is that students get intimate, hands-on experience with the research process; work closely with faculty, staff, and grad students; and get to spend a summer as an integral part of an active and friendly research community.”