About the VIMS REU Program

The intern program in a nutshell

  • Crossing the Bay
    Crossing the Bay   Program co-director Rochelle Seitz (far left) and the REU students stop for a photo on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.   Photo by Jennifer Dreyer
  • Catch of the Day
    Catch of the Day   REU student Chris Lynum shows off his catch during a day on the York River aboard VIMS' Bay Eagle.   Photo by Rochelle Seitz
  • Experiencing the Chesapeake
    Experiencing the Chesapeake   The REU interns kayaked with "Chesapeake Experience", a non-profit organization owned by VIMS alumna Jill Bieri.   Photo by Jennifer Dreyer
  • Eastern Shore Field Trip
    Eastern Shore Field Trip   Summer interns pose for a photo on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel during their Eastern Shore field trip.  
  • Cedar Island Field Trip
    Cedar Island Field Trip   Summer interns see the effects of rising sea level during a field trip to Cedar Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  
  • reu_esl_boat.jpg
      Summer interns take a boat ride during their field trip to the VIMS Eastern Shore Lab in Wachapreague, Virginia.  
  • reu_kayaks.jpg
      Summer interns take a break from research to do some kayaking.  
  • Recreation
    Recreation   Graduate student James Douglas (L) teaches summer intern Cielomar Rodriguez how to windsurf in the York River near VIMS.  
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The basis of the Summer Intern Program is a highly individualized research experience for each student coupled with group activities. As an intern in the VIMS/SMS program, you'll work closely with a mentor, and often within the context of a research team, to develop an individual project. Depending on the project, the summer may involve lots of 'hands-on' experience in the field or laboratory, or both. You'll have access to one of the best marine science libraries in the country, as well as extensive computer facilities.

Interns are expected to work with their mentors to develop a project idea in the form of a brief research prospectus, conduct their research, and then present results in a final program that is open to the VIMS community. Interns also prepare a summary research paper that is maintained in the program archives. In some cases, this has been the basis for a subsequent publication in the scientific literature. For more information on intern research projects, check out the student research page.

During the summer we meet every week for a seminar that features a guest speaker discussing topics such as:

  • "Scientific Reading, Writing and Peer Review"
  • "How to Apply to Graduate School: Tips from the Faculty Who Read the Files"
  • "Alternatives to Life in Academia: A Panel Discussion"
  • "How to Give an Effective Scientific Presentation"
  • "Ethics in Science"
Field Trips

Other group activities include 3 field trips. We traverse the coastal plain environment, from a freshwater system that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay, through the estuary proper and out to the Atlantic Ocean along the shoreface of the Delmarva Peninsula. When we travel to the VIMS Wachapreague Laboratory on Virginia's Eastern Shore, we spend a full day exploring nearly pristine coastal habitats, including an open coast beach on a barrier island, mud flat, salt marsh, and oyster reef. During a research cruise in the York River estuary aboard the VIMS research vessel Bay Eagle or Virginia, there will be opportunities to try state-of-the-art oceanographic instrumentation, to pull in a trawl net full of fish and crabs, and to learn a bit about vessel navigation. When we canoe the tidal freshwater reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, expect to see an abundance of wildlife and learn how land-use practices in the watershed affect the local estuary and coastal ocean. 

Quotes from Former Interns
  • “I am really glad I chose this program because I gained field and lab experience. My mentors, including grad students, really helped me understand what was going on.”
  • “Research at VIMS was a wonderful experience. It was especially helpful in learning about graduate school and helping me decide what I want in a graduate program.”
  • “I have more confidence because I’ve always felt as if my grades didn’t reflect my abilities; this project allowed me to excel and now I see that I enjoy this field and can do well in it.”
  • "VIMS is a great institution for pursuing a career in marine science."
  • "It [the research experience] reaffirmed that this is what I want to do with my life."
  • "Internships provide essential information necessary for prospective students to decide if they would want to pursue a career in marine science."