Since its start in 1992, the Fort Johnson Summer Undergraduate Research Program has provided experience in scientific research and science communication to over 180 students from 41 states and Puerto Rico. The strength of this program derives from the participation of 5 partner institutions that offer different perspectives on the culture and practice of marine science. These institutions, housed commonly at the marine science campus at Fort Johnson, are:
- Grice Marine Laboratory of the College of Charleston
- Marine Resources Research Institute of the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR)
- Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Ocean Service (NOAA/NOS)
The theme of our program is: “Marine Organism Health: Resilience and Response to Environmental Change.” Within that broad theme we have recently hosted projects on topics as diverse as species invasions, population genetics, ocean acidification, disease resistance, physiology, disturbance and community structure, environmental toxicology, pollution, and parasitism. Before their arrival, interns are matched to individual faculty mentors and initiate planning for research projects. On site, interns will be engaged in research, workshops, lectures, field trips, and professional training in everything from proposal writing and talk preparation to scientific ethics.
In addition to focusing on the process of research, the program includes a workshop series on science communication. Weekly meetings lead students to develop skills involved in the creation of elevator speeches, social media contacts, press releases and interviews. Interns share a residence in the dormitory of the Grice Laboratory. Activities continue throughout the ten week internship, during which time students remain in residence in the dormitory of the Grice Laboratory. Products of the summer include a research blog, a formal oral presentation, a written research paper, and several educational outreach tools to communicate the results of the intern’s research to their peers, their home institution and the public.