Student Interns


Through university partnerships and programs, student interns assist Eastern Threat Center staff members with a variety of projects throughout the year. Some of the students discussed their work and reflected on their experiences as Eastern Threat Center interns.


Cameron Toerner, Louisiana State University

Cameron Toerner.jpgI am a senior at LSU studying Natural Resource Ecology and Management with a concentration in Wildlife Habitat Conservation. Through this summer internship with Johnny and Michael, I have gained both new research and field experience. In my nine weeks here, I have been assisting in conducting experiments on how hydrology is affected by pine plantation conversion from a naturally regenerated mixed hardwood stand. This study emulates forestry practices that are occurring in the South right now, and I really appreciate the real world significance of our findings. Hopefully, land managers will use this information to aid their decisions going forward, especially in areas where water scarcity is becoming an increasingly pressing issue.

 Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs, EFETAC Biological Scientist, Research Triangle Park

Tyler Pallen, North Carolina State University

Tyler PallenI am a rising senior at NC State University majoring in Biological Engineering and minoring in Environmental Science. Working for the US Forest Service has been a great learning experience. My primary work area this summer has been studying the effects of conversion of hardwood forests to pine plantation. The goal is to measure how this affects water quality and quantity. My time here has been a combination of field and lab work, and I have gained valuable experience in every step of the data collection and analysis process. I am very thankful for being given the opportunity to work for the Forest Service and EFETAC, and for everything I have learned. 

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs, EFETAC Biological Scientist, Research Triangle Park



Former Interns

Tana Santilli, North Carolina State University

Tana_Santilli.jpgI am attending North Carolina State University to pursue my passion for forest management. In my free time I enjoy hiking, gardening, and educating those around me about my chosen profession. I have been granted a fantastic opportunity to intern with the Forest Service. This summer I will be working on different studies which will include measuring COfluxes in soil and measuring water quality and quantity impacts after a harvest. This internship includes field and lab work, which will provide experience by collecting and analyzing data. I am excited to be a part of this research which is another step closer in helping us learn more about our surrounding ecosystems.

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs, EFETAC Biological Scientist, Research Triangle Park

Paige Williams, University of Kentucky

Paige_Williams.jpgI am working towards a degree in natural resources & environmental science, with a minor in plant & soil science and a minor in music performance.

I am working with the Eastern Threat Center during the summer of 2018. So far during my time there I am working with research scientists on projects looking at the effectiveness of streamside management zones, measuring carbon flux in forest soils and biomass, and measuring changes in hydrology after a clear cut.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to work at EFETAC this summer!

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs, EFETAC Biological Scientist, Research Triangle Park


Allison Bass, University of North Carolina Wilmington

A_Bass.jpgI'm working towards a degree in biology and a minor in forensic science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I was thrilled to be a part of the PINEMAP program, studying soil respiration and quantifying the movement of carbon throughout different pools in the environment. I also worked with the Forest Service, preparing for their burn studies and assisting in the monitoring of decaying woody materials in their sites.

I was excited to be a part of this internship and I constantly learned and grew in my knowledge of the biological sciences.

Mentor/supervisor: Michael Gavazzi


Aubrey Burgess, Florida International University

Aubrey_Burgess.PNGI am a Sustainability and Environmental Studies major at Florida International University in Miami. The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) placed me in this internship with the Eastern Threat Center during the summer of 2014. I interned as a forestry technician on many projects including conducting supervised field work, measuring carbon dioxide fluxes from forest soils, collecting and processing understory biomass, measuring the effectiveness of streamside buffer zone management on biomass and water quality, and measuring tree cores to assess the impact of prescribed fire on tree growth. I gained invaluable experience and knowledge and consider myself very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work with the Forest Service.

Mentor/supervisor: Michael Gavazzi

Spencer Carr, North Carolina State University

Spencer_Carr.jpgI worked with the U.S. Forest Service as I was completing my degree in Environmental Technology and Management at North Carolina State University. During my internship, I spent my time working in a lab and in the field, which was ideal because it kept my internship fresh and varied my experiences. Working with the Forest Service confirmed that I chose the correct career path to embark upon. I really enjoyed working in the field and experiencing what goes into collecting data used for environmental projects. Being involved in the process of finding best management practices for forests was an interesting experience. I also learned how to work with others to accomplish a common goal. I gained this experience in the field by working with Forest Service employees and working with other interns while I was in the lab.

I would highly recommend working an internship with the Forest Service. I was able to gain valuable work experience while growing my personal network of contacts. This will help me as I begin my career in the environmental field.

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs

Caitlin Cassisi, University of North Carolina Asheville

Caitlin CassisiI majored in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA). Some of my academic interests included biogeography and herpetology.

I worked at UNCA's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) and assisted my mentor on a variety of different Eastern Threat Center projects. Some of my tasks included managing data libraries, creating maps of some of our data, and examining different open source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) options.

Working at NEMAC gave me the chance to utilize and grow my GIS skills. I enjoyed this opportunity to learn about various applications of GIS and would definitely recommend an internship with the Eastern Threat Center to any student who wishes to get some hands on experience. Working with some of the Eastern Threat Center projects really brought home how versatile GIS is as a tool for forestry.

Mentor/supervisor: Derek Morgan (former NEMAC senior research scientist and applied research software designer)

Xiaoyu Cen, Duke University

Xiaoyu_Cen.jpgI worked as an intern during my summer vacation because I've learned a lot about invasive species from Qinfeng Guo. I'm also interested in the relationship between species and the environment.

My internship involved compiling data on the relationship between native/invasive species richness and their habitat area, based on a literature search. The data will be used in a project seeking to better quantify the invasive species-area relationship, which I think is highly meaningful for species and ecosystem conservation.

This internship provided a great opportunity for me to have a deeper understanding about the research into invasive species through literature searching and reading. Also, the data compilation techniques I learned in the process are very helpful to my Master of Environmental Management project.

Mentor/supervisor: Qinfeng Guo

Christine Charles, Purdue University

Christine_Charles_2017.jpgI’m studying Soil and Water Sciences at Purdue University, but am originally from Northern New Jersey. While most of my previous experience has been studying natural resources used in agricultural systems, I was excited to work with the Forest Service to understand the health and maintenance of natural resources in other environmental systems. I’m very passionate about environmental restoration, soil health, and water preservation in various ecological systems. When not in the field or a lab, I also enjoy educating minority communities about sustainability, environmental health, and agriculture and encouraging students to pursue fields in these areas. I enjoy the research sector and plan to pursue it at the graduate level and professionally.

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs

William Clark, University of North Carolina Asheville

WilliamClark_NEMAC.jpgI am an atmospheric science major with a minor in mathematics. My interests are in how climate change will impact our nation's economy and our people's health and the best ways to communicate the information that comes from these kinds of impact assessment models as well as who cares most about this kind of information. I was the web developer intern for the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center. I contributed to the construction and updating of the Forest Change Assessment Viewer as well as the TACCIMO viewer.

Mentor/supervisor: Matt Hutchins

Kenneth (Zach) DeGraffenreid, North Carolina Central University

Z_DeGraffenreid2013.pngI am a senior from North Carolina Central University. I am majoring in environmental science with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

I assisted Eastern Threat Center researchers with the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) model during summer 2012. For the first project that I worked on, I scaled census population estimates to HUC-8 (8-Digit Hydrologic Unit Code) Watershed resolution. I also scaled integrated climate and land use scenarios (iclus) land cover data by watershed regions. On occasion I went out to the field to help complete various tasks.

I worked with relational databases a little before coming to the Eastern Threat Center, mostly editing and small tweaks. On the first project I worked on, I essentially built and managed a relational database with Microsoft Access. I have been learning Python so that I can automate some of the geoprocessing tools in ArcMap.

Would I recommend this internship to other students? Absolutely! The staff is friendly, helpful, and extremely knowledgeable and patient. Whenever I ran into a problem I had difficulty solving, someone knew how to tackle my problem and would point me in the right direction.

Mentor/supervisor: Erika Mack

Jonah Freedman, North Carolina State University

JFreedman.jpgI joined the Eastern Threat Center in the winter of 2014 through North Carolina State University while working on my Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology. As a research assistant for the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO), I worked primarily in content development. I graduated from the University of North Carolina Asheville in 2010 with a B.S in Environmental Studies and a minor in Economics. I am interested in utilizing environmental remote sensing to analyze hydrologic phenomena. I have worked extensively in the field as a conservation corps member and have applied this experience to my work as a content developer. In my spare time, I perform locally as a double bassist and vocalist for bands in a variety of genres, and enjoy snowboarding during the winter months.

Mentor/supervisor: Emrys Treasure


Chloe Gagin, University of North Carolina Asheville

Chloe_Gagin.jpgI pursued majors in economics and environmental studies with a concentration in management and policy at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. My academic interests also included statistics and geographic information systems (GIS). I anticipated using my degree to explore the interplay of economic and environmental systems. I considered myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to employ my aforementioned passions at the National National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC).

My internship was focused on GIS, but I also participated in projects on data management and science literature. Chiefly I made and edited maps for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. I was also part of a team working to create a publication for the project.

Mentor/supervisor: Karin Rogers (NEMAC Project Manager/Research Scientist) and Matt Hutchins (NEMAC Decision Support Research Associate)

Matthew Geiger, University of North Carolina Asheville

WilliamGeiger_NEMAC.jpgAs a web developer intern at the University of North Carolina Asheville's (UNCA) National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), I had the opportunity to work on important projects and solve interesting problems. I was also a student of mathematics at UNCA. When not designing and programming solutions for projects at NEMAC, I spent my time being confused by abstract mathematical structures. My life goals include living sustainably, acquiring land, and taking care of ferrets.

My work at NEMAC was focused on improving the TACCIMO Mapviewer interface by programmatically organizing different types of temperature and rainfall maps.

Mentor/supervisor: Matt Hutchins (NEMAC Decision Support Research Associate)

Amy Gershman, North Carolina State University

Amy_Gershman.pngI received my undergraduate degree in English Literature from West Chester University (PA) in 1998 and am currently working towards a Master of Forestry degree with anticipated completion in 2017. My Master’s project is to write a forest management plan for the northern tract of Raven Rock State Park in Harnett County, NC. This marks my third year of being a Dendrology Teaching Assistant. Seasonally, I work as an Environmental Educator for grades K-8. Additionally, I have been a member of the Society of American Foresters since 2013. I am most passionate about managing for landowners who want to retain their land rather than sell to developers, as well as about managing for wildlife. I am also interested in helping the public understand the role of fire in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs

Taylor Hescock, North Carolina State University

Taylor HescockI am a recent graduate of North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental technology and management and a minor in Spanish.

I participated as a forest technician intern with the Forest Service during the summer of 2011 and 2012. My basic duties included traveling to research sites to collect data, data entry, and field preparation.

I enjoyed working with the Forest Service and the Eastern Threat Center because I learned a great deal, worked with a great group of people, and gained professional experience. I would recommend this internship to other students because it is an introduction to working with the federal government and the Eastern Threat Center office provides a wide window of different opportunities.

Mentor/supervisor: Michael Gavazzi

Doug Hessler, University of North Carolina Asheville

DougHessler.pngI majored in atmospheric science with a concentration in weather forecasting at the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA). Some of my academic interests included meteorology (snow!) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

I interned at UNCA's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC). I assisted with the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. Some of my tasks included creating maps (with GIS), managing data libraries and managing server data.

Would I recommend this internship to other students? Short answer: absolutely. Interning at NEMAC for the Eastern Threat Center was the best. I enjoyed going into work and doing things that I enjoy. I was able to expand my knowledge of GIS and learn many new things with the help of the wonderful staff.

Mentor/supervisor: Matt Hutchins (NEMAC Decision Support Research Associate)

Sarah Jasienowski, North Carolina State University

Sarah_Jasienowski.pngI am a student at North Carolina State University pursuing a degree in Natural Resources with a concentration in Ecosystem Assessment and a minor in Wildlife Sciences. I love the environment, being outside, sustainable practices, and interacting with animals, but I'm not completely sure how I want to tie my studies and interests into a career just yet. Interning as a forestry technician for the Forest Service is the first job I have had related to my field of study. As a forestry technician I was responsible for assisting with field work on many different projects. I helped collect water flow data in streamside buffer zones, soil data including moisture, temperature, and flux in a pine plantation, and biomass samples. I learned many technical skills that I think will be extremely valuable to any career that I hope to pursue in the future and am grateful that I was selected for this opportunity.

Mentor/supervisor: Michael Gavazzi

JD Jorgensen, University of North Carolina Asheville

JD JorgensenI majored in environmental studies and worked on teaching licensure for high school and middle school science at the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA). Probably my most favorite thing about the UNCA experience was the opportunity to do things like work with the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC). My contribution to the Eastern Threat Center team was to work with Steve Norman (ecologist) during summer 2012 to sort a collection of images into a usable phenology database. I enjoyed working with the Forest Service and the NEMAC team. I would definitely recommend others to do an internship with NEMAC. Everyone on the team is extremely friendly and supportive.

Mentor/supervisor: Steve Norman

Keith Lee, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Keith LeeMy internship with the Eastern Threat Center began in the summer of 2012. My work centered around the TACCIMO (Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options) project. In particular, I did development and support for TACCIMO web-based tools and applications. I updated the TACCIMO Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Viewer application to support and subsequently incorporate content, i.e., climate projections and dataset map/image services, from climate applications such as Climate Wizard and Tree Atlas.

I have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA), and M.S. in Computer Information Technology from Regis University (Denver, CO).

Mentor/supervisor: Jennifer Moore Myers

Manon Legendre, McGill University

Manon_Legendre.jpgOriginally from California, I am majoring in Agricultural and Environmental Science, focusing in soil and water resource management at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. As part of the PINEMAP project I have had the opportunity to work with both the University of North Carolina and the USDA in the field and the lab, studying soil respiration and measuring the different flows of carbon through an ecosystem. It has been really interesting to experience yet another forest ecosystem and extreme climate change. Moving from the Pacific coast to Montreal then to North Carolina has been an incredible opportunity and I am looking forward to continuing to work on these types of projects in the future.

Mentor/supervisor: Michael Gavazzi

Jessie Lovelace, University of North Carolina Asheville

Jessie LovelaceI majored in mass communication with a concentration in commercial media at the University of North Carolina Asheville.

I worked with the Eastern Threat Center science delivery staff in the summer of 2012 as the organization’s communications intern. I created internal and external communications, including fact sheets and a scientist resource guide, and crafted articles for newsletters.

With this internship, my passion for our national forests and communications were combined. Using my communication skills to interpret important scientific information about forest threats was both an educational experience, as well as a personal enjoyment. I would recommend this internship to anyone in the mass communication field that wants to expand their skills beyond the world of mass media. It was a great experience working for the Eastern Threat Center, in that it showed me the wide variety of options available for people with my major.

Mentor/supervisor: Stephanie Worley Firley

Jacqueline Lowe, University of North Carolina Asheville

J_Lowe.jpgI was born and raised in Germany, and moved to Asheville, North Carolina to attend the University of North Carolina Asheville in 2008. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in environmental policy and management, as well as a minor in economics. I worked as a GIS intern at the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), while pursuing my Master’s degree. During my time in Europe, and also during my undergraduate studies, I participated in international Model United Nations conferences. This experience and background influenced me along the path of policy analysis as it pertains to environmental issues. In addition to pursuing a career in the environmental field, I am also a classical singer in my free time.

At my internship with NEMAC, I created maps that are used for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and worked with a team on the creation of a publication that presents a comprehensive science communication about Wildland Fire Management.

Mentor/supervisor: Karin Rogers (NEMAC Project Manager/Research Scientist) and Matt Hutchins (NEMAC Decision Support Research Associate)

Erik Martinez, University of Texas - Pan American

Erik MartinezI am from Mission, Texas. I studied environmental science at the University of Texas - Pan American. At my university, I worked as a resident assistant and stayed involved in several organizations and committees.

Through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), I was placed in the Eastern Threat Center internship in summer 2012. My main tasks were to assist Eastern Threat Center researchers by drafting and translating sections of the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) user guide, providing data maintenance support and assisting with tag content development for the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO), and helping with field work when needed.

Working with the Eastern Threat Center was outstanding. I remember my first day and not knowing what to do, but then I was able to understand a lot more things. One of the things I remember clearly is going to the field for the first time. Our task was to identify trees and conduct forest floor subplots. I had no idea what I was doing! I could not identify any of the trees since they are completely different from those in south Texas, and I had never done a forest floor subplot either. But, with the help of the staff and other interns, I eventually learned how to do those things and more. The staff here is very friendly and supportive which creates an excellent working environment. Whenever I had any questions, there was always someone around who could answer them.

One of the best things about this internship was the level of support that was offered. With the Eastern Threat Center, I not only got to work on different tasks, but I was also able to explore other areas to learn more about the Forest Service. It really helped me get a better sense of the career options available. I would definitely recommend other students to pursue an internship with the Eastern Threat Center.

Mentor/supervisor: Jennifer Moore Myers

Jackson Mathis, North Carolina State University

JacksonMathis2013.JPGI studied natural resources at North Carolina State University with a concentration in ecosystem assessment and a minor in forest management. During summer 2013, I was a part of the PINEMAP program. I spent six weeks with TACCIMO and six weeks with a graduate student mentor. With TACCIMO, I developed a webquest to assist extension professionals with learning about TACCIMO, and I assisted in general field work. With the graduate student, I helped her with some of her research on prescribed burns.

Mentor/supervisor: Lisa Jennings

Ashley Newby, North Carolina State University

Ashley_Newby.jpgI'm finishing my Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology (MGIST) at North Carolina State University. My interest areas include remote sensing and web application development. I came to this internship through the Center for Earth Observation. I worked on developing an open-source free version of the Get Values tool for the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) GIS Viewer, as well as explored open-source GIS options for web services. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with a fun and dynamic team as I grew my programming skills and expanded my knowledge of different programming languages and GIS tools.

Mentor/supervisor: Emrys Treasure

Travis Norman, North Carolina State University

Travis NormanI'm from Asheboro, North Carolina. I recently graduated from North Carolina State University (NCSU) with my Bachelor of Science degree in forest management. I am returning to NCSU to pursue my Master of Science degree in forest biometrics.

I was one of the field interns at the Eastern Threat Center office in Raleigh during summer 2012. My internship consisted of providing assistance in collecting data and lab work. All of my experiences with the Eastern Threat Center were great and I really enjoyed working here. I would highly recommend other students to come work at the Eastern Threat Center.

Mentor/supervisor: Michael Gavazzi

Carolina Osuna, Rice University

CarolinaOsuna.jpgI majored in environmental science and ecology & evolutionary biology with a minor in energy & water sustainability at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), I was selected to do an internship for the summer of 2013 with the Eastern Threat Center office in Raleigh. During this internship, my main projects were managing content in TACCIMO for Texas and the south central United States, processing data to explore opportunities to apply the WaSSI model for evaluating fire danger, and assisting in project coordination. Moreover, I also helped with field and lab work.

Mentor/supervisor: Emrys Treasure

Josh Simpkins, North Carolina State University

J.Simpkins.jpgI was a Pathways intern at the Eastern Threat Center's Raleigh office. During summer 2016, I assisted in the gathering and analyzing of data for a variety of projects. Following my internship, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources. My primary professional interest is how natural resource methodology can be applied in humanitarian settings to improve quality of life and fortify against natural disaster. When not working, I spend a majority of my time either writing, practicing mixed martial arts, or crafting hand tools in my workshop.

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs

Drew Sovilla, University of North Carolina Asheville

DrewSovilla.jpgI joined the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center and Eastern Threat Center teams during my final semester as a post baccalaureate, studying ecology and environmental biology. I have a diverse range of interests within the field of ecology, but am most at peace when I am thinking, studying, and standing in awe of the amazing diversity of the plant kingdom.

My internship was very specific in form, but allowed me to gain a wealth of knowledge on a global scale. I worked primarily on populating a large database of global island characteristics, using a wide range of source types. The primary intent of creating this dataset was to gather information about native, non-native, and endemic species population numbers, so that those numbers could be correlated to physical and locational attributes of islands on a global and regional scale. My mentor will utilize these data in a variety of capacities for future metadata analyses.

This process increased my capacity for research and patience through the need to sift through high volumes of information in order to ferret out very specific numbers. I found that the world of science still has a lot of unanswered questions with respect to island speciation dynamics and evolution, and hopefully my work provided a viable database for better understanding of this complex field.

Mentor/supervisor: Qinfeng Guo

Ian Thompson, North Carolina State University

IanThompson_cropped.jpgAt North Carolina State University, I studied environmental technology and management. I was chosen to assist with an ongoing study of root decomposition and commercially managed pine forests. During my time, I helped with sample collection, field measurements, and various forms of data analysis for this study. I also provided assistance on various other projects such as Best Management Practices (BMP) site studies. During my internship, I learned a lot of skills and overall it has been a very rewarding experience. I would highly recommend this experience to any student looking for an internship in this field.

Mentor/supervisor: Asko Noormets and Michael Gavazzi

Sara Thompson, University of North Carolina Asheville

Sara ThompsonI majored in environmental biology and ecology at the University of North Carolina Asheville, but I also studied geography and geology for two years at Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, prior to my transfer. I love nothing more than hiking in the mountains of North Carolina amongst the wildlife that I cherish so much. I plan to use my degree to enter the field of wildlife conservation.

I began assisting Eastern Threat Center researchers during summer 2012. I used satellite imagery to map the dead hemlock (Tsuga canadensis and Tsuga caroliniana) tree canopy of western North Carolina affected by the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid from Japan. The map provided up-to-date data to compare with past vegetation disturbance data and allowed for further analysis (by using Geographic Information Systems, GIS) of the hemlock and its overall health in western North Carolina. View a poster describing Sara's research.

This internship provided me with an amazing opportunity to work with experienced professionals in the field and grow as a young environmental scientist. I would highly recommend any UNCA student to investigate opportunities for internships with the Forest Service and the Eastern Threat Center because the hands on learning was very beneficial to me. Also, because my internship dealt exclusively with GIS, I am now a more proficient user of the system which is very important in my field.

Mentor/supervisor: Steve Norman

Isamar Toro, Inter-American University of Puerto Rico

Isamar_Toro.jpgI am a recent graduate from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a minor specialization in Chemistry. I was part of the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities National Internship Program for a period of two months. My work focused on helping interpret a web-based survey aimed to notify Hispanic and Latino communities within the agriculture industry about climate or temperature fluctuations within their livestock area. I also supported scientists from a highly culturally diverse research work unit with studies in the fields of carbon and water fluxes, geospatial data analysis, prescribed fire management, and watershed hydrology.

Mentor/supervisor: Jennifer Moore Myers

Viviana Varela, Interamerican University of Puerto Rico

VivianaVarela.JPGI am from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. I majored in general biology at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. I stayed involved at my university by volunteering at the Center for Education, Conservation and Environmental Interpretation (CECIA) where I was in charge of the Conservation of Natural Resources group.

I was selected to do an internship in fall 2012 through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) with the Eastern Threat Center office in Raleigh supporting content development for land and resource management plan revisions in Region 5 (Pacific Southwest) of the National Forest System within the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO). I also helped with field or lab work when it is necessary.

My mentors and supervisors were very supportive of me and gave me an excellent internship experience. They motivated me to step out of my comfort zone while giving me constructive criticism that is helpful to my professional growth. During my time here, I worked to improve my communication skills, develop my knowledge of the field, and strengthen my understanding of how to pursue a career with the USDA Forest Service. I am very grateful for this experience and I would recommend other students to try an internship in the Eastern Threat Center.

Mentor/supervisor: Emrys Treasure

Jessie Ventzke, Michigan State University

Jessie_Ventzke2017.jpgAs a Michigan State University senior in the Environmental Biology/Zoology program, my focus is on whole ecosystems and the components that make them up. My past work has seen me in Michigan ponds gathering data on animal communities and water quality. During my internship, I broadened my knowledge base by working in the watersheds of North Carolina collecting data on nutrient cycling and carbon fluxes. I am most passionate about using science to improve management and conservation practices and sharing scientific knowledge with the general public. When I’m not working, I like to spend time hiking, swimming, and being outside painting the natural world.

Mentor/supervisor: Johnny Boggs

Sara Vial, Virginia Tech

S_Vial.jpgI am an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech studying forest resource management. I was part of the PINEMAP intern program, and spent 12 weeks in Raleigh, NC, helping my mentor with a variety of projects. My main focus was reading tree cores to find relationships between growth and drought levels. I also helped collect data in soil respiration in pine plantations and woody biomass levels in pre-burn sites. The internship allowed me to learn new things and apply skills learned in school.

Mentor/supervisor: Michael Gavazzi


Learn more about Eastern Threat Center research opportunities.

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