The Student Enrichment & Experiential Learning (SEEL) Program in Marine Sciences, a component of the NSF Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology for the Integrated Study of Coastal Ecosystem Processes and Dynamics (CREST-CISEP), at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) gives high school students extensive and intensive hands-on experience in estuarine, coastal and marine sciences. This year, six students participated in the SEEL program, and were divided to work on different six real graduate research projects, exposing them to marine science academically and as a career. The annual program was held on June 22 – August 7, 2015 and is designed as an internship for students interested in careers in marine science.

The program aims to promote environmental literacy among high school students through activity-rich educational and outreach experiences related to the Coastal Bays. For high school students in the tri-county area, the seven-week internship provided a $2,000 stipend for the summer. 

“Whether it was outside in the field collecting data or prepping for my final presentation, our advisors, professors and fellow researchers were there to guide us,” SEEL participant Wahed Abdualla said. “I can speak for my fellow SEEL participants when I say that the SEEL program was an effective, positive community that allowed us to experience and thrive in a college environment.”

Students spent their time conducting research on one of five areas including: the influence of land use and climate variability on water quality in the Maryland Coastal Lagoons; phytoplankton and macroalgae dynamics in the Maryland Coastal Lagoons; zooplankton community dynamics in the Maryland Coastal Bays; physiological effects of hypoxia on Atlantic croaker in the Chesapeake Bay; and the effects of environmental factors on blue crab and its relation to infection by Hematodinium sp.

The students also worked with faculty and graduate student mentors on a research presentation, given at a symposium held at the end of the summer program. 

The program provided field trips for the students to visit the Paul S. Sarbanes Center, Berlin Maryland, NOAA Cooperative Oxford Lab, Cambridge Maryland and NASA Wallops Flight Center. The trips offered a unique opportunity to examine the ecological effects of resort development and an overview on the areas of marine pathobiology, habitat conservation, fisheries management and ecology.

The SEEL program was developed by Andrea K. Johnson, Ph.D., who served as associate director and education coordinator of the CREST-CISEP in the Department of Natural Science at UMES, and facilitated by Patricia Goslee, Ed.D., education lead for the LMRCSC and assistant professor in the Department of Education at UMES. 

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