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Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program


2018 Summer Internship Opportunities

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Internships

Expected Start Date: The program is 10 weeks in duration, starting May 21, 2018. Start date is flexible based on laboratory and candidate availability.

Application Deadline: January 5, 2018

Location: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

Salary: Selected candidate will be compensated by either a stipend or salary, and may include one round trip domestic travel to and from the host laboratory. Stipends and salaries will be commensurate with cost of living at the location of the host laboratory. Housing information will be provided to interns prior to arrival at the host laboratory, and will vary from lab to lab.

Hours: Full-Time


Biomolecular Mechanism of Mercury Transformations in Contaminated Systems (2 Internships) DOE-MSIPP-18-1-ORNL

The successful candidates will be current undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in a microbiology, biochemistry, biology, marine biology, biogeochemistry, chemistry, physics, or related field.

The successful candidates will conduct laboratory scale and meso-scale experiments to evaluate the performance of sorbents to limit the release of mercury from contaminated soils and sediments. Specifically this will involve data collection and analysis, interpretation, and publication of experimental results.

Abstract: Mercury (Hg) is a pervasive global pollutant which, as methylmercury (CH3Hg+), bioaccumulates in the food web and is highly toxic to humans and other organisms. Unlike inorganic forms of mercury, which originate from atmospheric deposition and point discharges, CH3Hg+ is generated in the environment predominantly by anaerobic microorganisms. Sulfate-reducing bacteria are the main producers of CH3Hg+, although iron-reducing bacteria, firmicutes and archaea can also be involved. We demonstrated that the biosynthesis of methylmercury is linked to hgcA and hgcB, two genes that are unique to methylating microbes in anaerobic environments suggesting a mercury methylation pathway common to all methylating bacteria and archaea sequenced to date. Additionally, evaluations of the influence anaerobic microbes can have on Hg release from adsorbents will also be evaluated. Research will include the use of techniques to identify proteins including SDS-PAGE, Western blots, immunostaining and mass spectrometry, and experiments that will require measuring total mercury and conducting mercury methylation/demethylation assays.

 

Forming Mercury Sulfide Crystals Over a Range of Geochemical Conditions and Altered Layer Formation of Borosilicate Glass (2 Internships) DOE-MSIPP-18-2-ORNL

The successful candidates will be current undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in a geochemistry, mineralogy, nanotechnology, chemistry, physics, or related field.

The successful candidates will lab scale experiments focused on the formation of Zn and Hg sulfide crystals in static experiments over a range of geochemical conditions. Responsibilities include data collection and analysis, interpretation, and publication of experimental results.

Remediation of diffuse mercury source zones poses a unique challenge at a wide range of the 3000 mercury-contaminated sites globally. The existence of diffuse sources is particularly challenging in remediating a low-order stream system (i.e., East Fork Poplar Creek [EFPC]) located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The EFPC ecosystem received large point-source discharges during the 1950 and 1960s. Although upstream mercury discharges to EFPC have declined, mercury release persists from point and diffuse sources within the industrial facility where mercury was used and from diffuse downstream sources, such as contaminated bank soils. Previous studies identified the presence of mercury sulfide (HgS) in EFPC bank soils, but the processes that govern HgS formation remain unclear. Research activities will include the use of microscopy techniques including scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and scanning probe microscopy measurements as well as general laboratory based sulfidation experiments.

In addition to sulfidation experiments and microscopy measurements, the interns will also have the opportunity to participate in other projects being performed. These include supporting microscopy analyses on weathered borosilicate mineral and glasses. The laboratory scale experiments will involve conducting static and flow-through experiments using atomic force microscopy to develop a mechanistic understanding of solid-fluid reactions. Responsibilities include data collection and analysis, interpretation, and publication of experimental results.

Hg Release from Creek Bank Soils and Engineered Sorbents DOE-MSIPP-18-3-ORNL

The successful candidate will be a current undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in environmental engineering, geochemistry, chemistry, environmental science, geology, soil chemistry, or a related field.

Remediation of diffuse mercury source zones poses a unique challenge at a wide range of the 3000 mercury-contaminated sites globally. The existence of diffuse sources is particularly challenging in remediating a low-order stream system (i.e., East Fork Poplar Creek [EFPC]) located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The EFPC ecosystem received large point-source discharges during the 1950 and 1960s. Although upstream mercury discharges to EFPC have declined, mercury release persists from point and diffuse sources within the industrial facility where mercury was used and from diffuse downstream sources, such as contaminated bank soils. Research activities will include lab-scale experiments that seek to determine the rates and mechanisms of mercury and methylmercury release from creekbank soils, and the extent to which the released mercury and methylmercury will be sequestered by engineered sorbents. These studies will include both static and dynamic column experiments and measurements of dissolved mercury in reacted solutions.

Coupling Direct and Indirect Characterization Methods for Mercury Transport and Surface Water-Hyporheic Zone Exchange (2 Internships) DOE-MSIPP-18-4-ORNL

The successful candidates will be current undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in hydrology, hydrologic science, environmental engineering, geophysics, geochemistry, environmental science, water resource science or a related field. 

The goal of the proposed work is to quantify water and mercury (Hg) sources and fluxes from contaminated creek hyporheic zone (HZ) sediments to the overlying surface water in the East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC). Objectives include: (Obj 1) directly measure water and Hg exchange between surface water and pore water in the HZ of the creek bed; (Obj 2) use geophysical techniques to indirectly and non-destructively measure the spatial distribution of the groundwater, surface water, and HZ; (Obj 3) determine location and spatial variability of water and Hg source areas within the creek-bed sediments of the HZ; and (Obj 4) translate research/knowledge to communities and students within minority or underrepresented groups.

This applied research project will develop a quantitative understanding of water and contaminant transport between the surface water and the HZ. This project aims to address the need to quantify the locations and uncertainty of Hg sources and fluxes into the EFPC stream: (1) installing dedicated streambed piezometers along EFPC that leverage prior and ongoing data collection efforts focused on quantifying key hydrologic variables (e.g., bed hydraulic conductivity) and water quality indicators (e.g., dissolved Hg concentration); (2) conducting tracer tests to quantify water flux between surface water and groundwater; (3) employing geophysical monitoring techniques to indirectly and non-destructively interrogate and characterize large volumes of the surface water – hyporheic water continuum.

Activities: Interns will participate in field and laboratory scale studies. At the field scale activities will include (1) installing dedicated streambed piezometers that will be used to measure water and mercury exchange between surface water - hyporheric zone (HZ), (2) supporting tracer tests to quantify water and solute exchange between surface water and HZ water, and (3) supporting shallow subsurface electrical resistivity (e.g., vertical electrical profiling) and spatial analysis to characterize the HZ. At the lab scale will include analysis of water quality parameters (dissolved cations, anions, and total dissolved carbon, etc.) and mercury concentration.