Internship at Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Lab

by roanokecollege on November 1, 2016


Samantha Waby performing a natural spawn

Samantha Waby is a senior majoring in Environmental Studies who interned at Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Lab (PEARL) in Saint Leonard, Maryland in the summer of 2016. She worked in their oyster hatchery to complete her research and to learn certain processes in oyster hatcheries such as cleaning the tanks and spawning new oyster larvae. Sam’s research project was titled “A comparison of developmental and economical differences between two oyster larvae diets”.

“Many hatcheries feed their larvae with concentrated algae that comes in a bottle and is stored in a refrigerator. This mitigates the cost and unpredictability that comes with culturing microalgae in a lab, but there has been little research done on the performance of this concentrate in regards to what oyster larvae eat in the wild: live microalgae. There were two components to my project. The first compared the differences the two diets had on certain aspects of larval development (quantified by size and metamorphoses potential on day fourteen of life), and the second part of my project compared the difference in cost between feeding live versus concentrated algae”.

Samantha’s favorite moment while completing her research was finding organisms that made it through PEARL’s filtration system.

“There are many researchers at PEARL, all with expertise in different fields of aquatic ecology and/or fields that relate, so we would take these mystery critters to different labs and try to find someone who could identify them. We found things like nudibranches and fish lice!”

To anyone thinking about doing research, Samantha says:

“Do it! Creating and executing your own research project gives you experience in a field you are interested in, which is really fun and is going to look great when you are applying for jobs”.

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