The 2005 Summer Intern Program
By Dennis Hanisak
A summer tradition at Harbor Branch continued in 2005 with our ten week long Summer Intern Program running from May 23 to July 29. This year we had sixteen interns: eight undergraduate and eight graduate students. The students were enrolled in ten different colleges and universities, with one student coming from the Universidad National de Colombia. Most of the funding for the internship program, as has been the case since the programs inception in 1974, was provided by a grant from the Link Foundation. This year the Link Foundation supported twelve internships, and the Gertrude E. Skelly Charitable Foundation funded four internships in our Division of Biomedical Marine Research.
Ten weeks is not a long time to develop and conduct a research project, to do the appropriate data analysis, to write the work up in scientific format, and to present an oral presentation summarizing the findings. But that is what the interns did, and did well!
While the internship program is coordinated by the Division of Marine Education, the program's success is heavily tied to the mentors of the students who are responsible for working with the students in all phases of the project. This year, eighteen Harbor Branch staff in the five research divisions mentored the students. At the start of the third week of the program, the mentors and other Harbor Branch staff participated in a review of proposals developed by the interns. Each intern submitted a one page proposal that briefly described his/her planned project, including its purpose and objectives, what work was to be done, and as appropriate, what hypothesis would be tested, what device would be built, etc. Of course, research does not always follow the path projected in a proposal, and it is not unusual if some of the projects take a serendipitous turn or two!
As always, a highlight of the summer was the annual Harbor Branch Summer Intern Symposium, held on July 28. The interns reported on their research projects, which covered the range of interests at Harbor Branch. The sponsors, mentors, and students who had participated in the 2005 program were all recognized. After the last talk, some of the Harbor Branch scientists and submersible crew treated the interns to a tour of the RV Seward Johnson, which had just returned from one cruise and was preparing to leave for another one. It was a fitting end to a great day and a wonderful summer!
Dennis Hanisak is the Director of the Division of Marine Education at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and the Editor of their Intern Newsletter.