Research & Internships

Many environmental science majors participate in internships or scientific research, some even do both!


Many students in the Environmental Science Program conduct independent research projects that are often presented at local, regional, and national meetings and/or symposia. Research projects are original research and serve to advance our scientific knowledge while also providing students with a transformative educational experience. The faculty in our program actively encourage student research, and their diverse interests and commitment to student inquiry provide research opportunities for almost any environmental interest. Students are encouraged to seek out faculty members whose interests overlap with theirs.

Emily Bohn wearing black v-neck shirt standing in front of large green research equipment
EMILY BOHN - Senior Biology Track

Introduce us to the faculty/staff who you are working with and a little about the project.

I work mainly with Dr. Mapes, a professor in the Biology department. Our project is focused on studying galls (abnormal plant growths) and the insects that form them.  Since this project is so interdisciplinary we often work with other faculty such as Dr. Setliff for insect identification and Dr. Heineman for information regarding genetic processing.

What equipment have you used, and how does it help solve your research question?

A lot of the equipment is fairly basic such as plastic vials and foam stoppers to help organize and observe any emerging insects from each gall. Tents and grow lights, or growth chambers, are used to grow plants and are used as the habitat for any emerged insects. My favorite part of the process is using the Zeiss microscope camera. It allows us to take high-resolution photographs of the bugs, which are often less than five millimeters long! These photographs allow us to see and save visual information on length, width, color and any other important morphological features needed to properly identify species. Being able to identify and describe the insects emerging from the galls is a key factor in our research.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?

The numerous kinds of insects that can be found in one gall and the many relationships between those insects are something I had no idea about before getting into this project. A whole world exists in these strange plant growths from gall formers to predators to inquilines (also known as temporary gall residents). So much of this subject is yet unstudied, which leaves a lot of room for more research.


Students in the Environmental Science Program are encouraged to pursue internships for course credit at conservation organizations, governmental units, industries, NSF-REU sites, and the National Park Service. KU Environmental Science students have participated in internships at a variety of locations including Hopewell National Park, Valley Forge National Park, the Yellowstone Fishery Assistance Office, Citizen's Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes, Philadelphia Zoo, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Ransom Township Supervisors, East Penn Manufacturing, Giorgi Companies, and the City of Philadelphia.


Introduce me to the faculty/staff who you were working with and a little about the project.

I was employed by Kutztown University over the summer of 2019 under Jane Rodgers to assist with the Environmental Health & Safety office's complete chemical inventory of the campus, the focus being the Sharadin Art Building and the Boehm Science Building. The goal was, on the surface, quite simple, but complex in execution – to record absolutely every chemical substance, along with its manufacturer, so that it may be entered in the MSDSonline database. This database is primarily used by EH&S workers, but most importantly, if the case should arise, it would supply information for first responders to an emergency in the location.

Archie Covely standing in doorway of lab with clipboard

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?

There was usually always something interesting waiting for me each day – once, I even rescued a very distressed raccoon from the Boehm dumpster.  As a whole though, I obtained a great deal of knowledge on proper chemical storage, regulation, and of course, down to a science, what is housed here at the university. I find that this information will be useful when working both in the lab industry and eventually as a professor.  I also now have a more wholesome perspective, and greater caution, when it comes to substances that I will use regularly. Proper handling and details involving them come much easier now. Lab safety rules are no joke!