delware environmental institute

DENIN Environmental Scholars


Clickable image from a video about the Environmental Scholars programThe DENIN Environmental Scholars Program is a paid undergraduate research internship opportunity focused on environmental topics that provides interested students with a sustained research experience over the academic year. Scholars work with faculty research mentors at the University of Delaware who have agreed to provide a research experience. 

Applications are accepted early in the fall semester. University of Delaware undergraduate students from any major may apply; however, the focus of the research internship must be environmentally relevant. Students in the natural, physical, or social sciences and humanities are eligible to apply. Students with an interest in climate, sea level rise, water quality, land use, soil contamination and remediation, environmental sensing and monitoring, economics, ethics, environmental justice, environmental history, or environmental policy are especially encouraged to apply. All applicants are required to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be current sophomores, juniors, or seniors.

Scholars' research projects are carried out during the fall, winter, and spring semesters. Fall and spring semesters are a part-time commitment, and winter session is considered a full-time commitment for five weeks. In addition to research, DENIN Scholars will also have opportunities to attend workshops in career development and effective communication as well as occasional field trips or social events. Scholars present the results of their work at a student symposium in the spring. Click on the image above to hear what the 2014 Environmental Scholars had to say about their research and the program.

How To Apply

Applications for the 2015–16 DENIN Scholars Program are currently being accepted via this online form and are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 9.

Prior to completing the form, you should identify a faculty mentor with whom you'd like to work and develop a description for your poject. (See below for tips on finding a mentor.) The application form requires a 500-word personal essay about the research you would like to conduct and a current resume. You will also provide contact information for your faculty mentor, who will be asked to provide a letter of recommendation.

A Special Opportunity with DNREC for 2015–16

In addition to our regular DENIN Scholar internships, we are offering one special position in conjunction with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) during the 2015–16 academic year. In this position, the intern will work with mentor Phil Cherry, director of the Dvision of Energy and Climate, to begin development of an environmental indicator tool to track Delaware's envrionmental and natural resource quality. This tool will provide a baseline of indicators or measures of quality that DNREC, other organizations, legislative bodies, and individuals can use to set goals, develop strategies, make funding and budget decisions, and evaluate programs related to the environment.

The timeline and compensation for this internship are similar to our other research internships, but the qualifications and application process are different. Requirements for the position include the following:

  • Junior or senior undergraduate student in natural or environmental sciences or public policy and administration
  • Knowledge of the principles and practices of the environmental sciences
  • Knowledge of the methods, techniques, and procedures of data collection and compiliation
  • Ability to work with electronic data processing methods
  • Ability to compile, analyze, and interpret statistical data
  • Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing

For a complete description of this opportunity and application instructions, please download this PDF document.

Tips for Finding a Research Mentor

Before you apply for the DENIN Environmental Scholars program, you will need to arrange a research project with a UD faculty member.  Fortunately, the University of Delaware has many excellent faculty with an environmental research focus. You may already know of a faculty member you would like to contact, or you may already know of a department on campus where you will focus.

If not, a first suggested place to look for potential mentors can be found on the Experts page on the DENIN website. The list begins with a number of UD faculty who are experts in various environmental fields and gives a short description of their departments and fields of expertise. A link next to each name takes you directly to his or her home page for further information. Other locations you may want to search for mentors include the UD Undergraduate Research Program or any of the department pages on the UD website. Once you have found a faculty member who interests you, take the next steps in contacting the person:

1. Read the mentor’s webpage thoroughly. Download or find his or her latest article and read it as well. Know what research the person does and why. Be prepared to ask relevant questions about that work.

2. Read more than one potential mentor’s page.

3. Email the mentors whose work interests you. In your email, first ask if they might have an undergraduate research project available. Then, you might ask about their work, make a comment or two about the paper you just read, and tell them a little about yourself, including any career or educational goals.

4. Find out when your potential mentor conducts office hours and whether you can arrange a meeting at that time.

5. Be prepared to receive a reply of “No thank you, I don’t need a student right now.” Some professors have many students; all are very busy and may not answer emails readily. Do not despair. This is why you reach out to several mentors.

6. Always take the time to reply to emails from faculty with a “Thank You” reply.

7. Once you do receive a response, be prepared to go visit the professor. Prepare by re-reading that paper from #1. Re-read his/her webpage. Make sure you know what this person studies and why you want to do research in that lab. Set up an appointment time and good luck!

Schedule of Events

Applications for the 2015–16 academic year are now being accepted via this online form.
The application deadline is October 9, 2015.

Program runs from November 2, 2015, to mid-May, 2015.

Meet the 2014–15 DENIN Environmental Scholars

Photo of Josh Barnett Joshua Barnett
Major: Biological Sciences
Mentor: Clara Chan
Topic: Function of iron and sulfur cycling microbes in coastal environments
Photo of Kaliopi Boussess Kaliopi Boussess
Major: Environmental Science
Mentor: Jennifer Biddle
Topic: Microbial communities in the sediments of the Costa Rican margin
Photo of Danielle Eldracher Danielle Eldracher
Major: Sociology & Criminal Justice
Mentor: Joanne Nigg
Topic: Wetland management in the Wilmington area with a specific focus on marshlands
Photo of Lyndsay Fagan Lyndsay Fagan
Major: Environmental Engineering
Mentors: Dan Cha & Steven Dentel
Topic: Implications of biochar on the nitrogen cycle in stormwater management
Photo of Molly Gartland Molly Gartland
Major: Wildlife Conservation
Mentors: Greg Shriver
Topic: Effects of distance from habitat edge and nest height on nest survival in the wood thrush
Photo of Kara Hoppes Kara Hoppes
Major: Environmental Science & Geological Sciences
Mentor: Clara Chan
Topic: How microbes in groundwater aquifers produce iron oxides
Photo of Kelli Kearns Kelli Kearns
Major: Environmental Engineering
Mentor: Angelia Seyfferth
Topic: Factors influencing arsenic concentrations in rice crops
Photo of Dianna Kitt Dianna Kitt
Major: Environmental Engineering
Mentors: Steven Dentel
Topic: Using hydrophobic breathable membranes for sanitation and applications in developing countries
Photo of Jose Lopez Jose Lopez
Major: Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Ismat Shah
Topic: Effects of inorganic and organic materials on photovoltaic cell efficiency and green solar cell manufacturing processes
Photo of Matt McDermitt Matthew McDermitt
Major: Wildlife Conservation
Mentor: Donald Sparks
Topic: Characterization of soils from EPA Superfund sites in New Jersey
Photo of Philip McGuire Philip McGuire
Major: Envrionmental & Chemical Engineering
Mentors: Dan Cha
Topic: Effectiveness of rapid infiltration basins (RIBs) in Middletown, Delaware
Photo of Mackenzie Peet Mackenzie Peet
Major: Economics
Mentor: Kent Messer
Topic: Food eco-labeling, process labeling, and the environmental impact of agribusiness decisions that lead to deforestation and land degradation
Photo of Francesca Piccone Francesca Piccone
Major: Economics
Mentor: Kent Messer
Topic: Local perception of price premiums for oysters that provide ecosystem services
Photo of Samantha Serratore Samantha Serratore
Major: Environmental Engineering
Mentor: Dan Cha
Topic: Effectiveness of rapid infiltrations basins (RIBs) in Middletown, Delaware
Photo of Kerry Snyder Kerry Snyder
Major: Entomology & Ecology
Mentor: Douglas Tallamy
Topic: Identification of trees that support wintering neotropical migratory birds in shade coffee farms
Photo of Alison Treglia Alison Treglia
Major: Civil & Environmental Engineering
Mentor: Julie Maresca
Topic: Determine if carotenoid pigments from bacteria protect concrete microorganisms from oxidative stress
Photo of Ha Vu Ha Vu
Major: Chemistry & Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Deb Jaisi
Topic: Chesapeake Bay phosphorus cycling
Photo of Kelsey Wentling Kelsey Wentling
Major: Environmental Studies
Mentor: Afton Clarke-Sather
Topic: Determine how the economy, politics, climate and hydrology impact farmers' decisions regarding irrigation
Photo of Kathryn Wheeler Kathryn Wheeler
Major: Environmental Science
Mentor: Delphis Levia
Topic: Effects of climate change on stream chemistry and throughfall
Photo of Patrick Witterschein Patrick Witterschein
Major: Energy & Environmental Policy
Mentor: Janet Johnson
Topic: Impact of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay
Photo of Mengzheng Yao Mengzheng Yao
Major: Geography
Mentor: Afton Clarke-Sather
Topics: Carbon dioxide emissions and climate change