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High School Summer Apprenticeships 2012

ASE Intern and Graduate Student
CMOP is hosting four high school students this summer in the Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) program. Students work along side scientists and graduate students performing research relative to the Columbia River estuary. The center partners with Saturday Academy to offer this 8-week summer apprenticeship. Students are at CMOP from late June to the middle of August. At the end of the summer, students will present at the ASE Symposium.


Plankton Ecology in the Columbia River Estuary
Student: Olivia
Mentor: Peter Zuber

Project Description
Each year, for at least a decade, large vivid red water blooms of the plankton Mesodinium rubrum - a heterotrophic ciliate - have occurred in the Columbia River estuary during late summer. This organism has the unique ability to acquire chloroplasts from its prey, which are cryptophyte algae, through a process known as karyoklepty. The intern will use multiple genetic markers to discover genetically distinct members of Mesodinium rubrum and its cryptophyte prey.

Responsibilities: Water sample collection throughout the estuary and the coastal ocean north of the river, nucleic acid extraction, PCR amplification, preparation of samples for cloning and sequencing and sequence data analysis.

Assay Development for Microbial Detection
Student: Roopa
Mentor: Holly Simon

Project Description
The environmental sample processor (ESP) is an autonomous instrument that performs molecular diagnostic tests in water and provides information regarding the presence or absence of specific microorganisms of interest. The ESP detects biologically relevant organisms using assays that rely on the hybridization of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). One of our goals for the ESP is to develop DNA probe arrays specific for target organisms, such as Mesodinium rubrum, an abundant heterotrophic ciliate that generates massive blooms in the estuary every summer. Results from this project will contribute to our overall goals in CMOP, which are to understand biological changes with respect to chemical and physical parameters along the Columbia River coastal margin.

Responsibilities: Calibrating and generating standard curves in the laboratory -Comparing data from laboratory and field experiments -Measuring particles in water in the field -Overall, aiding in the deployment of the instrument

Characterizing a Bacterial Manganese Oxidizing Enzyme
Student: Katherine
Mentor: Cristina Butterfield

Project Description
Develop an understanding of microbial manganese oxidation. Manganese is abundant in the Earth’s crust and is central to basic cellular processes, therefore understanding Mn oxidation is essential to the complete understanding of how life relies on metallo-chemistry. Microbes are thought to be responsible for most of the Mn oxidation on Earth. Certain bacteria catalyze the oxidation of Mn(II) to Mn(IV) in the environment with a copper-containing protein, multicopper oxidase. Multicopper oxidases transfer electrons from a substrate, like Mn(II), to O2 to produce an oxidized substrate, Mn(IV), and H2O.

Responsibilities: Purifying and characterizing this enzyme with basic molecular and biochemical techniques and more advanced spectroscopic applications.

Environmental Fate and Effects of Contaminants
Student: Raichle
Mentor: Paul Tratnyek

Project Description
Research on the fate and effects of contaminants in the environment. In surface water and groundwater, contaminants undergo transformations that transform them into more or less harmful products. Understanding these processes is one of the major challenges in environmental science and engineering.

Responsibilities: Laboratory studies of these processes, and possibly field work or computer modeling. Methods used may included spectroscopy, cytometry, chromatography, and microscopy. The results may contribute to the scientific basis for regulation and remediation of environmental contamination by contaminants.

* Note: CMOP does not post high school interns last name.