Opportunities - Undergraduate Research: George Mitchell Center
Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Environmental Science
‘Water is the driver of nature’
-Leonardo de Vinci, 1457
The Senator George Mitchell Center for Environmental & Watershed Research offers opportunities for senior research projects in environmental science, policy, and education. Students participate in projects that provide experiences for careers in state and federal agencies, environmental or government organizations, environmental consulting, private industry, and academia.
Student research projects typically focus on an aspect of the interrelated physical, chemical, geological, and biological factors that influence watersheds and water resources at the ecosystem level, including related policy and management. Water chemistry and quantity reflect the integration of all processes that occur upstream in watersheds, so many projects are encouraged that focus on water chemistry or water resources.
Examples of general topic areas include: surface water and groundwater water quality/quantity, environmental chemistry of substances such as arsenic, mercury and dioxin, non-point source pollution, forestry BMPs, limnology, GIS applications, environmental education, wetlands, modeling, remediation and restoration.
Students are encouraged to prepare senior theses in the format suitable for publication in a journal.
The Mitchell Center is the central research and analytical resource for water resources and associated environmental topics. The Center is the congressionally-authorized water institute for Maine, and was described by USEPA as ‘one of the nation’s premier programs’ when it was awarded the 1998 EPA Environmental Merit Award. In 1999, the USGS ranked the Center as one of the 5 top performing water centers during the previous five years, and described it as a ‘model for national water resource centers.’
The Center is closely involved with the environmental consulting industry, agencies including EPA, USGS, National Park Service, and the Maine DEP, DOT, Geological Survey and State Planning Office. The 22 Center faculty-affiliates span 4 colleges, and 10 departments. Students have opportunities for practical hands-on interactions and internships with these partners, facilitating both training and future employment opportunities.
As locations for watershed-scale ecosystem research, the Center operates long term gauged watersheds: at Acadia National Park and at Bear Brook in Beddington. The Center houses the Environmental Engineering and Geochemistry Research Laboratory, one of the premier analytical research facilities in the northeast. This laboratory is the national water quality laboratory for the flagship EPA Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program. Our instrumentation capabilities include organic compounds ranging from dioxin to gasoline, and inorganic substances from arsenic to zinc. Facilities include three specialized ‘clean rooms’ for analyses as low as the parts per quadrillion level in our role as the Maine environmental contaminants laboratory.
For more information, explore www.umaine.edu/WaterResearch/