UD students spend winter in Hawaii studying whales

March 17, 2014 under CANR News

Rebecca Moeller spent her winter break in Hawaii studying whalesWhile most Delawareans were inundated with cold and snow this winter, using shovels and plows to get out of their driveways, University of Delaware student Rebecca Moeller was busy working in the warm sunshine with whales in a place known as something of a tropical paradise: Hawaii.

Working in Maui through an internship with the Ocean Mammal Institute, Moeller, a senior majoring in animal science and minoring in wildlife conservation in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said she spent three weeks tracking pods of humpback whales to see what effect boats had on their behavior.

She explained that during four-hour shifts, either from 8 a.m.-noon or 1-5 p.m., she and her team would be stationed on a cliff about a half a mile offshore, or at another location right on the shore, equipped with binoculars and looking for pods of whales.

“We would try to find one pod and then we would keep track of that pod for 20 minutes. Once we had a 20-minute period without a boat near the pod, we would keep track of the behaviors when there was a boat within half a mile, and then again once the boat was out of range for 20 minutes,” explained Moeller.

Tracking behavior wasn’t the only thing Moeller did during her internship, however; she also learned how to use a theodolite — a surveying instrument used to track coordinates — in order to pinpoint the locations where they spotted the pods.

Moeller said that team members would usually work with four or five pods a day and they would do an analysis of the pods at the end of every day.

“We would map them and then record how much down time there was and how many surface behaviors there were,” said Moeller. “Then at the end of the internship, we had to write a research paper using all of the data that we had collected.”

The interns also had to take a three-hour class every night after completing all of their work. So while it’s natural for everyone to hear Hawaii and automatically think of rest and relaxation, Moeller stressed that she spent the majority of her time hard at work.

“We were able to go snorkeling, but that was about the only thing that we had time for. I mean, the condos that we stayed at were right on the beach so we were able to appreciate the beauty of it, but we didn’t get much down time,” said Moeller.

Not that that was a bad thing, especially since she was able to fulfill a lifelong dream. “Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. A lot of people have that phase, only I never really grew out of it. I’ve always just really loved marine mammals,” said Moeller.

She added that the internship would also help her after graduation as she enters the career field.

“In my future endeavors I really want to work in conservation biology for marine mammals and this definitely helped push me in that direction because I always knew that I wanted to be involved with dolphins and whales and porpoises,” she said. “Having this experience kind of showed me that conservation biology is definitely the direction that I want to go.”

Moeller was joined on the trip by another UD student, Alessandra Fantuzzi, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


UD senior Rubino spends summer interning at Philadelphia Zoo

January 5, 2012 under CANR News

Looking for a summer internship that would provide hands-on experience with a variety of different animals, University of Delaware student Gabrielle Rubino decided that she should apply to a place defined by its animal diversity: the Philadelphia Zoo.

Rubino, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources who is majoring in pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences with a minor in wildlife conservation, applied for the animal care internship through the zoo’s website after talking with an acquaintance who had interned at the zoo in the summer of 2010.

She explained that after submitting an application, writing a letter of interest and sending two letters of recommendation, officials selected her for an interview and, ultimately, the internship.

The internship lasted 11 weeks, from the end of May until the middle of August, and Rubino started her day at the zoo every morning at 8:30 a.m. She worked alongside the staff at the Children’s Zoo, and her main duties included preparing and distributing food for the animals.

Feeding a wide array of animals, ranging from ferrets and box turtles to owls, ducks and porcupines, Rubino received first hand experience on the dietary needs of diverse wildlife.

Feeding and preparing meals was not the only part of her job, however. Rubino explained that she also “learned how to maintain animal enclosures and exhibits with proper cleaning methods. I learned proper handling, crating and capture techniques for these different animals as well.”

One of the most interesting parts of her internship was learning about animal enrichment. “I learned what it meant to provide different types of enrichment for the animals such as visual, tactile and auditory enrichment,” said Rubino. “I never knew that a Senegal parrot could be so fascinated by bubbles, or that Macaws would be completely silent while watching a Disney movie.”

Rubino also got her hands dirty tidying up various animal living spaces, cleaning out the mini-horse and donkey yards, the bunny village pens and the chicken and turkey yards. Of the cleaning process, Rubino joked, “I have never spent so much time with hay in my life, nor do I hope to again.”

When it was time to take the animals out for “play time” for the public to see, Rubino had to make sure that she was sharp on the animal information so she could answer any questions that the zoo’s visitors might have. “I was always asked questions about the animal that was out for showing so I had to be very knowledgeable on all the types of animals.”

Rubino said that she “absolutely loved this internship.” She met great friends and learned fascinating information, all the while gaining hands on experience with a variety of different animals from a staff that she described as “always helpful and willing to teach.”

Although she is not 100 percent sure what she wants to do with her future, she said that she wouldn’t rule out working at a zoo because she “enjoyed every day I spent interning at the zoo.”

For those students interested in a summer internship at the Philadelphia Zoo, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas


CANR, Food Bank of Delaware Bring the Harvest Home

August 3, 2010 under CANR News, Events

University of Delaware volunteers and students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware spent the morning of July 30 harvesting 1,305 pounds of fresh produce from UD’s Garden for the Community.

Once the workers finished harvesting, they loaded a food bank van and headed to Sparrow Run Park in Bear where they distributed fresh produce, 30-pound meal boxes, chicken and other food items to 715 individuals.

Families received potatoes, okra, sweet corn, eggplant, peppers, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and basil fresh from the University’s Garden for the Community. The garden is located on one-third of an acre on the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources campus on South College Avenue.

Read the full story with photos on UDaily by clicking here.


UD accepting applications for Summer Institute in Agriculture and Natural Resources

February 19, 2010 under CANR News

Are you considering graduate school? Are you interested in molecular biology and genomics; ecology and natural resources; food science and safety; animal health and production systems; public horticulture and plant science; markets and trade; quantitative analysis; resource economics and sustainable development; or soil, earth, and environmental sciences?

Then apply to the UD Summer Institute in the Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

“The Summer Institute is a team effort by faculty from all departments in our college,” says Tom Sims, deputy dean of UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “It provides outstanding undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research and learn about the range of graduate education opportunities available in the agricultural and natural resource sciences.”

The Summer Institute is a 10-week program intended for underrepresented populations of undergraduate students who have an interest in pursuing graduate degrees in the agricultural and natural resource sciences.

Students will participate in ongoing research projects guided by faculty mentors; interact with professionals in private industry, government agencies, and not-for profit organizations who are pursuing successful careers in agriculture and natural resources, become familiar with the academic background and qualifications needed to be admitted and succeed in graduate school at UD, and learn about the full range of opportunities available for prospective graduate students in the UD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Travel expenses and housing costs will be covered. Housing will be provided in university residence halls and transportation from residence halls to CANR facilities will be provided. All students will also receive a stipend of $3000 to help cover costs of participation

Enrollment in the UD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Summer Institute is limited to five undergraduate students and preference is given to students from underrepresented populations who are completing their junior year.

The application deadline for the 2010 Summer Institute is Monday, March 15. To apply, visit the Summer Institute Web site.

Read this article online at UDaily by clicking here.


Water Resources Center internship program marks 10th, invites applications

February 19, 2010 under CANR News

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Delaware Water Resources Center (DWRC) internship program.

Established in 2000, the DWRC internship program has provided more than 100 University of Delaware and Delaware State University students with the chance to conduct projects on water-related topics under the supervision of a faculty adviser.

With project topics ranging from policy to core issues of stream sampling to metal levels in broiler litter, the DWRC internship program offers students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty members in their academic field, and become directly involved in research and education projects addressing water resource related issues of critical importance to Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region.

During this experience, interns pick a topic of interest, conduct an ongoing research or education project, analyze and interpret data, and present a final report at the annual UD Undergraduate Research Conference. This “hands-on” internship provides select students with the opportunity to address water quality issues and apply their classroom knowledge to real-world problems. Additionally, interns are able to learn more about graduate school opportunities, future research projects and careers in water science, policy and management.

Jennifer Campagnini Walls, principal planner for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), was one of the first DWRC interns in 2000. She graduated from UD in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management.

As a DWRC intern, Walls was advised by Gerald Kauffman, professor of watershed policy and director of UD’s Water Resources Agency, where she worked on a project entitled “The University of Delaware Experimental Watershed Project.” UD’s experimental watershed serves as a living laboratory for research and education in the University community, containing many popular landmarks such as the UD farm, Clayton Hall, Deer Park, and the Blue and Gold Club. This watershed area includes several small tributaries to the White Clay Creek.

During her internship, Walls was responsible for the planning and assessment of the first experimental watershed on UD’s main campus in Newark. Walls did the majority of her work out in the field testing water quality and aided in the preparation of a watershed “report card” that evaluated the relationship between land use and watershed health.

“As a DWRC intern, I gained a ton of experience that has helped me get to where I am today. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present my research from this project at two national conferences, giving me a very competitive edge. This internship program taught me a lot about watershed planning and management, knowledge that I continue to use every day,” Walls said.

One of the current DWRC interns, Nicole Dobbs, is a senior environmental engineering major with a concentration in water quality and water resources with minors in civil engineering and economics. Her project, “Monitoring Cool Run Watershed for the UD Middle South Campus,” is advised by Anastasia Chirnside, assistant professor of bioresources engineering. Dobbs is responsible for evaluating land uses on campus, approximating pollutant loads, and looking at storm water management practices. This is all part of an effort to come up with an overall recommendation for healthy, sustainable watershed management practices on campus.

The DWRC is currently accepting applications for the 2010-2011 class of undergraduate interns. Each undergraduate intern receives $3500 in financial support from the DWRC. Students typically work ten weeks full-time during the summer and additional hours during the fall and winter. Academic credit for internships is also possible but must be coordinated with the student’s faculty advisor.

The application deadline for 2010 DWRC internships is March 26. For details on past projects, current faculty advisors, application materials to submit, and requirements for reports and posters, visit the DWRC Web site. Students are encouraged to contact Maria Pautler via email at [mpautler@udel.edu] or telephone at (302) 831-0847 to express interest and to receive assistance identifying a project and adviser.

The DWRC was established in 1965 and serves as one of 54 Water Resources Institutes across the nation. Support for these institutes is received from the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners within each individual state.

Read this article online at UDaily.