The structured laboratory experiences and techniques of the core courses and electives set the stage for what many students consider to be the most rewarding part of the SES program, the independent research projects. During the last five weeks of the course, students are able to devote full time to a project of their choosing. The project gives students a chance to work independently, although they are supported by a main advisor, a Principal Investigator (PI) at the MBL Ecosystems Center or MBL Josephine Bay Paul Center. Many students collaborate with their peers on their projects and may have the opportunity to work with a PI at other Woods Hole research institutions such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) or Woodwell Climate Research Center. Students have access to Ecosystems Center facilities and equipment as well as access to MBL field sites such as the Harvard Forest LTER or Plum Island Ecosystems LTER.

Depending on their interests and background, students may have the opportunity to work jointly with local conservation organizations and government agencies on environmental studies that effect our local land, water and coastal ecosystems on Cape Cod. Some projects, like Wheaton College student Kristy Sullivan’s 2016 project on toxic algae in Falmouth waters make the local headlines.

In December, SES students present their research projects in a formal videotaped symposium before their classmates, mentors and guests, and the Ecosystems Center’s and MBL’s scientific staff.

This event is open to the general public as well as local project collaborators and represents the culmination of the students last five weeks of independent field and laboratory research, observations and data analysis. For many it is the first time they have ever given a formal public presentation and a great introduction into communicating and defending scientific study and discoveries in front of a local friendly scientific community.

SES Class of 2022

Video: 2022 Semester in Environmental Science Presentations

2022 SES Student College  Project
Jake Ackerman Rhodes College Bioaccumulation of Microplastics Along a Gradient Of Urbanization And Potential Effects on Ribbed Mussel Respiration And Feeding Rates
Mackenzie Allinson Grinnell College Tracing Groundwater Contamination in Little Sippewissett Marsh Using Nutrient Analysis of Groundwater and Stable N-isotope Analysis in Biomass
Kristen Beach Dickinson College Effects of Environmental Stressors on Sargassum
Olivia Grobmyer University of Chicago The Effect of Wetland Restoration on Nitrogen Removal
Danya Hammoudeh Xavier University of Louisiana Desiccation Tolerance and Reactive Oxygen Species in Nostoc Cyanobacteria
Catherine Updegraff Northwestern University Toxicological Effects of Oxybenzone on Two species of Stony Corals and Their Endosymbionts
Eleanor Meng Lawrence University Variability of Zostera marina Traits Across a Wastewater Pollution Nutrient Gradient
Ellie Sangree Hamilton College Modeling Nitrogen Transformation and Oxygen Dynamics in an Intermittently Drained Floating Treatment Wetland in a Mesocosm Saltwater Experiment
A Jordan     Colorado College Little Pond Sediment Cores: A Primary Productivity Peer through Time
Yuyang Wang Mount Holyoke College Understanding the Outcome of Competition Between Spartina alterniflora and Phragmites australis using a Model and Field Collected Data
Grady Welsh Middlebury College Simulating Salt Marsh Drought Conditions: Effects of Salinity on Sporobolus alterniflorus in a Greenhouse Environment
Keiona Williams Colgate University Geomorphological Responses to Sea Level Rise and the Impacts on Carbon Burial in Cape Cod Salt Marsh

SES Class of 2021

Video: 2021 Semester in Environmental Science Presentations

2021 SES Student College  Project
Lily Agnacian University of Chicago Effects of Temperature on Bioreactor Denitrification Technology for Effluent Wastewater and Algal Growth Response
Dena Ahmed     Amherst College Little Pond Project: Assessing Municipal Sewering Impacts on a Coastal Estuary
Meg Alberding Wesleyan University Life Cycle Responses of Brachionus Rotifers to Nitrogen Loading Scenarios
Alice Ball Connecticut College Investigating Feeding Rates of the Northern Star Coral, Astrangia poculata, on Microplastics
Nick Beltramini     Oberlin College The Role of Alosa pseudoharengus in Methylmercury Bioaccumulation within Cape Cod Kettle Pond
Lilja Carden University of Chicago Historical Effects of Nitrogen Eutrophication on Mollusk Communities
Gwyneth Crossman Oberlin College Nitrogen Up the Food Chain: Examining the Effects of Nitrogen Loading on Dietary Nitrogen of Branta canadensis bogs
Dianna Gagnon Wheaton College Determining Whether or Not Property Value is Indicative of Nitrogen Runoff from Fertilizer Application
Elizabeth Greebon Rhodes College Potential Dietary overlap between Native Blue Crabs and Invasive Green Crabs
Alex Hochroth University of Chicago Sediment Limitation for Seagrasses and Possible Solutions for Restoration
James Hu University of Chicago Petrol, Pellets, Paint: Sourcing Anthropogenic Lead Pollution in Plum Island Sediments via Stable-Isotope Analysis
Ella Lemley-Fry Lawrence University Investigating Dynamic Association of Soil Minerals with Organic Matter: Implications for Carbon Storage and Nutrient Cycling
Courtney Leung University of Chicago The Effect of Land Use on Soil Respiration
Marcus Mekhail Colgate University How does the Biogeochemical Cycling of Mercury in Aquatic Sediment dictate the Bioaccumulation of Methylmercury in the Lower Trophic Levels of Cape Cod Kettle Ponds?
Nora O’Keefe Trinity College Abundance and Composition of Plastics Found in and nearby Coral Ecosystems on Cape Cod
Leah Pendl-Robinson Mount Holyoke College Assessing Methane Concentrations and Methanogenic Microorganisms in a Wetland Ecosystem
Sydney Russo Clarkson University Physiological impacts on Astrangia poculata: Stresses of microplastics on the Northern Star Coral
Sunniva Sheffield Oberlin College The Interaction of Pharmaceutical & Personal Care Products (PPCPs) with Plastics & Associated Aquatic Biofilms Grown in Different Environments of Sider’s Pond
Brianna Stevens Connecticut College Biofilm Formation on 5 Different Plastic Types in Contrasted Environments of Siders Pond Water Column
Khanh Ton     Rhodes College Cape Cod Heathland Community Response to Disturbances and Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition
Anna Warsaw University of Chicago Assessing Methane Concentrations and Methanotrophic Bacteria in Beaver Ponds
Tiantian Zhu Colorado College The Roles of DNRA and Denitrification in Nitrogen Reduction Pathways in Coastal Sediment with the Presence/Absence of Eel Grass in Falmouth, MA

SES Class of 2019

Video: 2019 Semester in Environmental Science Presentations

2019 SES Student



Olivia Blasdel
University of Evansville
Variation in Natural Abundance 15N Isotopes in Groundwater and Sentinel Macroinvertebrates as Indicators of Wastewater Pollution in Estuaries
Kathryn Hulleman
Earlham College
Carbon Loss and Nitrogen Availability After Cessation of a Long Term Till and Corn Silage Management Experiment
Lauren Johnson
Trinity University
Effects of Excess Nutrients on the Carbon Metabolism of the Macroalga Ulva
Kyra Madunich
Pomona College
Examining the Synergistic Effect of Temperature and pH on the Competitive Dynamics of Native and Invasive Tunicates
Grant McKnight
Northwestern University
Effects of Iron, Nickel and Nutrient Supply on Pyrite Crystal Formation in Marsh Sediments
Khashiff Miranda
University of Chicago
Impact of Anthropogenic Nitrogen Loading on Diazotrophic Communities in the New England Salt Marshes
Cody Pham
Pomona College
Habitat Selection in Birds Across Fragmented Landscapes
Miriam Ritchie
Wheaton College
Do Microplastic Concentrations in Salt Marshes Increase with Human Population Density?
Olivia Shao
University of Chicago
How Does the Chemistry of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) Affect Bioaccumulation in the Estuarine Blue Mussel Mytilus Edulis?
Marguerite Tate
Harvey Mudd College
The Effects of Beaver Dams on Nutrient Cycling in Cart Creek, A Tributary of the Plum Island Estuary

SES Class of 2018

2018 SES Student



Maggie Anderson
Lawrence University
Effects of Chronic Nitrogen Addition on Soils Along an Urban-to-Rural Gradient
Casey Beidelman
Northwestern University
Plastic Beach (The Spread): Microplastic Distribution and Composition Across the Tidal Range of Cape Cod Beaches
Ariela Buxbaum Grice
Connecticut College
A Genomics-Based Study of Gracilaria Species Around Falmouth, Cape Cod
Emma Conrad-Rooney
Wellseley College
Mycorrhizal Colonization Across an Urban to Rural Gradient: Interactions with Nitrogen and Calcium Cycles
Boya “Twiggy” Cui
Dickinson College
Algal Carbon Stable Isotopes as Indicators of Coastal Eutrophication
Emory Ellis
Hamsphire College
Predicting the Impacts of Senescence on Carbon Storage and Water Movement in New England Forests
Gracie Gavazzi
Kenyon College
High Nitrogen Content in Spartina Alterniflora as a Feeding Cue for Invertebrates in New England Salt Marshes
Emily Hays
Northwestern University
Effects of Oil Exposure on Nitrogen Cycling in Salt Marsh Sediments
Michael Howard
Clarkson University
Effects of Differing Agricultural Practices on Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Stocks
Ali McGarigal
Colorado College
A Marsh Against Tide
Claire McGuire
Rhodes College
Plastic Marsh (The Tenacity): A Look Back at the Varying Anthropogenic Impacts on Estuary Systems Through Microplastic Pollution and Stable Isotopes
Talia Michaud
Mount Holyoke College
Impacts of Urbanization and Nitrogen Addition on Ectomycorrhizal Fungal Communities
Briana Moore
University of Chicago
Eutrophication in Little Pond: Algal Growth Response to Nutrients and Immediate Effects on Sewer Systems on Enrichment
Rudy Mueller-Schrader
Lawrence University
Understanding Sea Turtle Foraging Through the Stable Isotopes of Their Prey Items
Rachel Murray
University of Lynchburg
Metal Contaminants in Local Harbors
Abigail Rec
Gettysburg College
Nutritional and Physiological Status in Cold-Stunned Juvenile Sea Turtles
Hector Ricardo Salazar
Connecticut College
Plastic Beach (The Arrival): Spatial Heterogeneity of Microplastic
Eva Schneiderman
Mount Holyoke College
Pollution on Cape Cod Beaches and the Impacts of Different Hydrographic Sources
Lauren Skinnion
Trinity College
Differential Responses of Invasive and Native Species of Gracilaria During Exposure and Recovery from Salinity Stress
Wenzhuo Yang
Allegheny College
Are Microbial Community Inherently Safe?

SES Class of 2017

2017 SES Student



Lois Anderson
University of Chicago
The role of physical protection of carbon in soil aggregates in sites of land use change
Jonah Benning-Shorb
University of Chicago
Nutrient budget in a eutrophic Cape Cod estuary
Paul Max Black
Franklin and Marshall College
Effects of Schizachyrium scoparium coverage on soil and food web structure in coastal plain grasslands
Luis Cartagena
Northwestern University
Effects of long-term soil warming on aggregate mass and physical protection of organic matter
Marta De Giuli
University of Chicago
Controls on seed bank biodiversity in the Frances Crane Wildlife Management Area
Emily DeFelippis
Eugene Lang College of The New School
Lipids and stable isotope profiles in cold stunned juvenile sea turtles of Cape Cod
Lucero Flores
Northwestern University
Effects of temperature and nutrient variation on bleached and unbleached Astrangia poculata
Lydia Fox
Dickinson College
Salinity tolerances and nitrogen requirements of native and invasive Gracilaria species in New England
Lauren Hamm
Rhodes College
Biogeography of Gracilaria species in Waquoit Bay
Ben Hoekstra
Grinnell College
Spatial distribution of soil properties in a chronosequence of abandoned New England cranberry bogs
Augusta Hollers
Amherst College
Visual stimuli that control adaptive camouflage in cuttlefish
Charlotte Hovland
University of Chicago
Sex, drugs, and rotifers: Endocrine disrupting water contaminants and rotifer reproductive cycling
Emi Lemberg
University of Chicago
Microbial fuel cells for improved bioremediation
Caitlyn Linehan
Trinity College
Measuring NSC, carbon, nitrogen and relative greenness of Quercus coccinea and Ilex opaca during senescence
Chloe Omelchuck
Hampshire College
Plant and insect communities in a chronosequence of abandoned cranberry bogs
Sarah Pope
Wheaton College (IL)
FISHing for sulfate reducing microbes in Siders Pond, a meromictic lake
Peter Puleo
Northwestern University
Using sediment geochemical indicators to understand nutrient loading and salinity changes in Siders Pond
Alondra Soto
Pomona College
Decomposition and DOC availability during leach phase of decomposition in early and late successional leaves
Emma Sullivan
Dickinson College
Measuring nitrogen attenuation in septic-contaminated coastal groundwater