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Geographic Information Systems

Maryland Outdoors Summer Program

A Summer Research Experience - July 6th - 12th, 2014

How To Apply

Please contact Stacey Davis at 443-282-0012 or sdavis2@washcoll.edu for information on how to apply. You will need the following forms:


Sunday, July 6th - Orientation

The balance of this day will be spent in the computer lab reviewing existing scientific environmental data using Geographic Information Systems on the Chester River watershed and Chesapeake Bay as well as orientation tours of campus and laboratory facilities.

Each day they will be a wide variety of recreational activities available on campus to include sports, the gym, the pool, the game room, kayaking, movie nights, and access to our best computer labs on campus lab.  We generally plan to have fun in the evenings.

Monday, July 7th - Water Quality Survey of the Chester River and Upper Chesapeake Bay

Our first field trip will take place using the RV Callinectes, the College’s 46 foot research vessel which is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.  During this trip we will survey the water column along the Chester River from Chestertown to the Chesapeake Bay and then transect across the Bay to outside the Port of Baltimore and returning to Chestertown by late afternoon.

During this day-long trip participants will collect water quality data at predetermined stations along the route.  Hydrocasts (water column depth profiles) using Sondes fitted with sensors will be conducted to generate real-time water quality data for the following parameters:

  • Salinity
  • Temperature
  • Dissolved Oxygen
  • Photosynthetic Active Radiation
  • pH

Discrete water samples will be collect using a Niskin water sampling bottle for:

  • Nitrates
  • Orthophosphates

Discrete water samples collected by the Niskin sampler will be filtered and analyzed for nitrates and orthophosphate on board.

Participants will be responsible for filling out prescribed field sheets for each station and activity. All data will be recorded on the trip with data correlated to the x,y, and z locations.  Equipment to be used will include a laptop for data processing, Niskin water sampler, a Secchi disk, and state-of-the-art Sondes with a wide variety of sensors installed and a portable spectrophotometer.  Students will work in teams to test and process field collected data.

Additional testing from net pulls to collect fish samples may also be conducted.

Tuesday, July 8th

We will go out on the water again to pull samples of river bottom sediments and collect brackish water clams (Rangia cuneata) and testing of metals in sediments and the soft tissue and shells of the clams.  Both the RV Callinectes and the College’s pontoon boat will be used to collect these samples.  Samples will be collected using a PONAR sediment grab. Data on locations will be collected and samples carefully labeled and stored for later processing and analysis back in the labs at the College.

Wednesday, July 9th

The participants will break up into teams to process all of the data collected in the first two days of field research.  Significant processing time and lab time will be required to accomplish this.  Samples will be prepped and analyzed for selected elements using an Inductive Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS). Sediment and clam soft tissue will be digested using a state-of-the-art microwave digestion system.  Clam shells will be thin-sectioned and analyzed for selected metals using laser ablation interfaced with the ICP-MS.  All data will be entered into databases correlated with the x, y, and z locations of sample collections.

Optional Activity

Participants will be able to spend two hours working to build their own underwater aquatic robot (Aquabotz) from scratch and test drive them in the College’s pool.

Thursday, July 10th

Participants will continue to process field research data in the morning.

In the afternoon, we will go back out on the Callinectes to learn how to use underwater testing equipment including side scanning sonar, magnetometers, and sub-bottom profilers that are used to better understand the bottom characteristics of aquatic environments.  Who knows, we may discover a shipwreck while doing this.

Friday, July 11th

This day will be primarily spent in processing data and preparing analysis for presentation the following day.  Software tools such as ArcGIS and Surfer will be used to visualize data.  3D visualization techniques may also be used.

Saturday, July 12th

Each team will present their project to the Washington College community and hi-definition video will be used to also broadcast presentations back to Hong Kong for the international participants.  Each presentation will also be recorded for later playback.  That evening we will have a beach barbecue at Betterton Beach to celebrate a long and hard week of research.