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Undergraduate students from universities across the country who spent their summer conducting research at SoMAS presented their work at the 2009 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Symposium on Thursday July 30, 2009. The theme of this summers REU program was “The Impact of Storm Events on Coastal Environments in a Changing Climate.”

Back Row: Dr. Henry Bokuniewicz, Dr. Brian Colle, Jeffrey Massey, Joseph "RJ" Hill, Peter Alpert, Katrina Smith, Allison Truhlar, Marvin Alfaro, Kristopher Ketch, Alexandra Valdes, Eileen Goldsmith, Dr. Sultan Hameed. Middle Row: Dr. Minghua Zhang, Tracey Evans,Stephanie Chiang, REU Program Director Dr. Josie Aller. Bottom Row: Brian Lin, Grant Saltzgaber, John LaBold. Not pictured: Etienne Larangot.

Back Row: Dr. Henry Bokuniewicz, Dr. Brian Colle, Jeffrey Massey, Joseph “RJ” Hill, Peter Alpert, Katrina Smith, Allison Truhlar, Marvin Alfaro, Kristopher Ketch, Alexandra Valdes, Eileen Goldsmith, Dr. Sultan Hameed. Middle Row: Dr. Minghua Zhang, Tracey Evans,Stephanie Chiang, REU Program Director Dr. Josie Aller. Bottom Row: Brian Lin, Grant Saltzgaber, John LaBold. Not pictured: Etienne Larangot.

The REU program is a 9-week program funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage active research participation by undergraduate students who otherwise have limited opportunities. This summer SoMAS hosted students from ten universities including Cornell, University of Nebraska, McGill, and Texas A&M. SoMAS also hosted two students from France thanks to sponsorship from the Alfred and Jane Ross Foundation. Under the direction of faculty mentors Josie Aller, Henry Bokuniewicz, Malcolm Bowman, Brian Colle, Charles Flagg, Sultan Hameed, Daniel Knopf, Stephan Munch, Robert Wilson, and Minghua Zhang, these undergraduates conducted research on immediate regional problems, as well as long-term problems relating to the global oceans and atmosphere. Students engaged in projects such as studying the aerosols associated with cyanobacterial blooms in a Southampton lake; examining the processes in barrier island morphology; analyzing observational data to determine the correlation between local wind stress and tidal surges; and investigating the effect of the North Atlantic Oscillation on New England temperatures.

“The ultimate goal of the SoMAS and other REU programs is to provide students with guidance for future career choices and–perhaps most importantly–an opportunity for personal development,” said Dr. Josie Aller, director of the REU Program at SoMAS. To achieve this goal, this summer Dr. Aller initiated a seminar series at which mentors and other faculty described their research and engaged students in discussions regarding the implications of a changing global climate.

“In addition to providing students ‘hands on’ experiences conducting fieldwork and in the laboratory, we utilize the summer research experience to illustrate the usefulness of scientific research for understanding real-world problems or phenomena,” said Dr. Aller. “Additionally, because many of the projects this year were collaborative efforts involving two or three REU students, graduate students, and several mentors, we believe that undergraduate students got a good sense of the importance of teamwork in gathering and sharing data.”

2009 Summer Research Projects

Processes in Barrier Island Morphology
Allison Truhlar (Cornell University)
John LaBold (West Chester University)
Etienne Larangot (Louis le Grand, Paris, France)
Project Mentor: Henry Bokuniewicz

Fishy Growth Rates & Fecundity
Kristofer Ketch (University of Minnesota)
Mentor: Stephan Munch

Production of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Aerosolized particles associated with blooms of the cyanobacteriumMicrocystis sp.
Katrina Smith (Coastal Carolina University)
Grant Saltzgaber (University of Nebraska)
Project Mentors: Josie Aller and Daniel Knopf assisted by Tracey Evans, Joann Radway, and Peter Alpert

Storm Surges within Great South Bay, Long Island associated with local wind stress
Marvin Alfaro (Universtiy of Miami)
Mentor: Malcolm Bowman and Charles Flagg
Effects of Synoptic Systems on Hypoxia in the Western Long Island Sound
Brian Lin (McGill University)
Mentor: Brian Colle and Robert Wilson

Modeled Climate Variability of the North Atlantic Oscillation
Joseph “RJ” Hill (Texas A&M University)
Mentor: Minghua Zhang

The North Atlantic Oscillation’s effect on climate variability
Jeffrey Massey (Cornell University)
Mentor: Sultan Hameed

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