Summer Research Internship

Application deadline has been extended to April 15, 2022!


The Otter Point Creek Alliance and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland (CBNERR-MD) co-sponsor a summer research internship. Internships are open to qualified undergraduate students to conduct a summer research project within the Otter Point Creek Component of CBNERR-MD. The Maryland reserve is one of 29 Reserves throughout the country that serve as field laboratories for the betterment of coastal zone management through research, education, and stewardship.

Site Description

Otter Point Creek is one of three sites that comprise CBNERR-MD. It contains 704 acres of upland and riparian forest, tidal freshwater marshes, streams, creeks, submerged aquatic vegetation, and open water. Otter Point Creek is located in the tidal headwaters of the Bush River in Harford County, Maryland. Staff from the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center oversees all efforts and activities at Otter Point Creek. Students are encouraged to work with staff to coordinate the use of laboratories, field equipment, and other amenities (canoes, boats, storage space, etc.) in support of their research project. Students are also encouraged to incorporate education and volunteer opportunities, if applicable, in their research efforts.

Research Topics

Otter Point Creek is an ideal site for a broad range of research topics with a diversity of habitats. Students can work with the Park Manager to develop their own research project from the topics listed below:

  • Environmental Assessment of HaHa Branch, Cove, and Mudflats—Develop a baseline profile of a tributary of Otter Point Creek and its adjacent mudflats containing a state rare wetland plant species in advance of possible upstream development, for restoration and remediation efforts
  • Trends in Emergent Vegetation– A data analysis project, looking at how Emergent Vegetation Survey sample plots have changed over time, utilizing data sets from 2008 to 2020. This project is low on fieldwork and high in priority and accessibility.  Virtual-friendly.
  • Vegetation Mapping– Utilizing technology to capture imagery that can be used to map vegetation communities, both submerged and emergent, with mapping software.  Updating the wild rice and phragmites mapping project last completed in 2012.
  • Trends in Juvenile Fish Surveys– A data analysis project, compiling and analyzing existing juvenile fish sampling results, using data collected for over a decade. The goal of the project will be the creation of a recurring analysis protocol that would be used for existing and future data collection. Virtual-friendly.
  • Microplastic Entrainment in Submerged and Emergent Vegetation—Build on the microplastics research of 2019 and 2020 to characterize the presence, location, and transport of microplastics in Otter Point Creek.

Anita C. Leight Research Interns will receive research support and mentoring from trained personnel. They receive a stipend as well as access to research equipment and supplies.

For further information about the topic areas to develop a research proposal, you are encouraged to contact CBNERR-MD Research Staff: Kyle Derby, or Becky Swerida,

For more detailed information about the projects, please contact Lauren Pathoumthong, Site Manager, at 410-612-1688 or via email at


Internships are open to qualified undergraduate students who are capable of working independently with minimal supervision. Students should be highly motivated self-starters, have good communication and writing skills, and be comfortable working in physically challenging environments. Kayak or canoe paddling skills are desirable in order to access research points.

Application Requirements

Qualified applicants should submit the following:

  1. A short proposal (five or less single-spaced pages that includes a title, hypotheses, methods/procedures, objectives/goals of study, and references) see template and example
  2. A copy of unofficial transcripts
  3. Two letters of recommendation and
  4. A one-page resume.

All applications must be received in full by April 15. Qualified applicants will be contacted for an interview.

Internship Requirements

The successful applicant is expected to develop an expanded detailed proposal, conduct independent research, and provide a final report, public presentation and newsletter article about their project for the Otter’s Tale, within one year of completing their project.

Financial Support

The Otter Point Creek Alliance will provide a stipend of $4,000 in four installments. Final payment is made upon completion of all requirements. In addition, CBNERR-MD will provide up to $500 for supplies. Interns should plan and be committed to working a minimum of 20 hours a week for a minimum of 2 1/2 months during the summer.

Send complete applications to:

Lauren Pathoumthong, Site Manager
Anita C. Leight Estuary Center
700 Otter Point Road
Abingdon, MD 21009

or email your complete application as a PDF with proposal, transcripts, recommendation letters and resume to Lauren Pathoumthong at

For more information contact:

Lauren Pathoumthong at 410-612-1688 or