Interview with Laura Logozzo
MSc research project: Bioavailability of marsh-exported organic matter
CCNY/EAS Lab: Land-Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions
Graduate Research Advisor: Prof. Tzortziou
Contact Information: Rm: 901, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview by Brian Lamb, PhD student in the EAS Department
Brian: Hi Laura. I understand you spent the summer doing an internship, can you tell me about it?
Laura: Yes, I spent the summer at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, abbreviated as SERC. SERC is located in Maryland. I was conducting research looking at carbon fluxes and fate coming from the Kirkpatrick Marsh into the Rhode River sub-estuary. Determine how much, what kind, and what quality of carbon is being exported from marsh, and the degradation processes affecting the carbon once in the estuary. Carbon parameters were measured based on optical properties, as well as biogeochemical properties.
B: How did you hear about this opportunity? And how did you go about applying for it?”
L: Professor Maria Tzortziou informed me about the summer internships that SERC offers to undergraduate and starting graduate students. The research scientists in SERC’s photobiology lab were conducting carbon water quality research relevant to my master’s work. I applied to the internship through the SOLAA portal. The deadline for the summer internships are February 1st. Additionally, there are also opportunities to apply for year round fellowships with SERC (10 weeks long), for which the fellowship deadline is December 1st.
B: How long was the internship? Was it paid?
L: The internship was three months. And yes, it was paid.
B: Was housing provided while you were doing your internship?
L: Yes, housing was provided, I staying in the dorms on the SERC campus. The cost of staying in the dorms was deducted from the summer pay. The cost of staying in the dorms was $400 per month.
B: How did you like staying in the dorms?
L: The dorms were pretty cool. The people managing the dorms were really nice and the dorm residence were able to request various dorm amenities. Some of the requested additions to the dorm’s kitchen included a waffle maker and panini press.
B: It sounds like the living situation there was quite alright. How about for the research, what were the most interesting and exciting aspects of it?
L: The most exciting part of the research was the field work. The majority of the research consisted of taking water samples and I got to do the sampling from various locations; sometimes from the dock, sometimes in a canoe, and sometimes in a kayak.
B: What were some of the most important skills that were required in conducting this research?
L: The most important skill was patience. The water samples that were collected had to be filtered with a syringe and/or water filtration system. Filtration and manual extraction require a lot of time and patience to perform correctly. Additionally, one important skillset that I acquired that is more specific to the research I was conducting was learning how to run optical measurements for water samples (absorption and fluorescence measurements).
B: Were there any fun activities you engaged in outside of research?
L: Yes, I did a lot of canoeing and kayaking as part of research, and outside of research time as well. I went to a wine tasting event, I also got to go to Smithsonian museums in DC, and I visited the National Zoo as well. The National Zoo was really neat because I got a chance to see a baby Cheetah and go inside the pen of a large bird species called a Rhea.
B: It sounds like you had a lot of fun and got to do some interesting science work. Where there any challenges you faced during this internship and what advice would you give to someone who may be interested in pursuing a similar type of internship?
L: Because the majority of the research was conducted outdoors, I had to get used to dealing with bugs. Also, you have to get used to and/or be okay with working alone in nature. Some of the water samples needed to be collected during high and low tides, as a result it was not uncommon to wake up very early to collect the samples at different points in the tidal cycle.
B: What are the next steps in your graduate research at this point?
L: I’ll be applying to a gradute research fellowship at SERC for next summer, looking into microbial degradation of carbon and water quality parameters. I’ll be continuing to answer research questions from the summer in my current master’s research.