Project WiCCED

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION  or apply directly through the student employment website

Spring Application Deadline: January 21st, 2020

Summer Application Deadline: April 24th, 2020

Program Dates:
Spring 2020: January 13th, 2020 – April 24th, 2020
Summer 2020: June 1st, 2020 – July 24th, 2020

There will be up to 9 positions available across 3 project areas:

  1. Marshgrass – Molecular Genetics and Genomics Laboratory 
  2. SensorsChemistry Laboratory
  3. OystersAquatic Health Laboratory 

Marshgrass Project Description: Current research opportunities will focus on abiotic stresses associated with sodium and nutrient uptake in marsh grass. Our goal is to understand underlying mechanisms which allow marsh grasses to withstand high levels of sodium and other nutrients in Delaware Inland bays. Undergraduate students will have the chance to work on a novel project which will include sample collection of marsh grass, DNA, RNA, and protein isolation, along with possible data mining. As marsh grass is one of the newest plant species our lab is investigating, students will be a part of discoveries which will add to intellectual and scientific merit of this study.

Sensors Project Description: Sensor research in this area will explore new approaches to developing unique sensor architectures including colorimetric sensing platforms, gold nanoparticles, and novel sensors based on polymer nanofibers. These sensors will focus on targeting nutrient concentrations and other contaminants of Delaware’s waters (e.g., salinity, metals, including nutrient pollution of N and P). Several sensing platforms will be developed in this EPSCoR based upon: (1) low-cost reagent strips with a colorimetric response for simultaneous detection of phosphorus, nitrogen, and environmental contaminants. multiplex sensor;  (2) multilayer substrate with immobilized functionalized gold for nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, etc. simultaneous detection; (3) and self-assembled monolayers functionalized via chemical methods to capture and sense phosphorus, nitrogen, and other analytes, thereby tailoring light-matter interactions to amplify the sensing mechanism. These sensors will provide the basis for a future generation of ultrasensitive, high-data-rate sensors. The overall goal is to create a network of inexpensive water quality sensors to complement existing monitoring focused primarily on physical parameters such as water levels and temperature. The network will enable an early warning system to Delaware citizens and policy makers about multiscale water quality threats common to our state.

Oyster Project Description: Our overarching goal is to distinguish between ocean, agricultural, wastewater, and atmospheric sources of the nutrients to the Delaware Inland Bays and their oyster populations. Although oyster aquaculture may be impacted by excess nutrients, it can also be a solution to mitigate this problem. We expect to see high efficiency for nitrogen removal by farmed shellfish compared to BMPs for agricultural and storm-water runoff. Current research effort focuses on understanding nutrient and salinity stresses on oysters and other species living in and around oysters. As part of the program goal, we propose to use the concentrations and isotopic compositions of dissolved and particulate carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in water, sediment, and oysters at the aquaculture sites in the Delaware Inland Bays. Following are our objectives:

1.  Obtain continuous water quality readings for dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, salinity, dissolved solids, turbidity using the sensor identified for the aquaculture site(s)

2. Analyze water quality for nutrients from water, sediment and oysters at aquaculture site(s) and restoration site(s)

3.  Monitor oyster growth and survival and compare their growth and survival for aquaculture site(s) oyster restoration site(s)

4. Assess ecological benefits of oyster aquaculture: monitor differences in pelagic and benthic aquatic species diversity and presence and absences of some of the indicator species (i.e. blue crab)

5. Identify nutrient sources to oysters: monitor nitrogen and carbon sources in the sediment, water, oyster and surrounding lands to identify what are the major sources of nitrogen and carbon in that particular site

6. Identify potential land use stressors and obstacles for the aquaculture industry

You can learn more about the WiCCED project as a whole in the video below, presented by the University of Delaware