STEM in the Community

STEM In The Community

WHOI Summer Internship Combines Sun, Sea, and Science

Field Trip To Edgartown Great Pond Foundation

The seaside community of Woods Hole in Falmouth offers iconic Cape Cod summers with a scientific bend. From sunny beaches to the mysterious deep blue sea, CCCC STEM students interested in exploring the ocean’s frontiers are among those chosen for a summer of cutting-edge research.

The eight week Community College Research Internship for Scientific Engagement (CC-RISE), is a paid summer internship that benefits CCCC STEM-focused scholars. Through a National Science Foundation grant, CC-RISE partners with WHOI to provide community college students the chance to join leading scientists in their exploration of the deepsea biosphere.   

“We are pleased to add our support to this internship by providing scholarships for students to enroll in the microbiology course offered here at CCCC through STEM Starter Academy, an initiative of the Department of Higher Education,” said Bridget Burger, Director of the Cape Cod Regional STEM Network.

The CC-RISE program is run by the National Science and Technology Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI). Its mission is to explore life beneath the little known deepsea biosphere, which comprises 70% of our planet's surface. C-DEBI scientists are interested in discovering how subseafloor microbes help coordinate critical global biogeochemical cycles that keep our planet habitable.

The CC-RISE program incorporates diverse experiences during the course of the internship, including the opportunity for mentorship by WHOI scientists. Students spend approximately 40 hours a week in the laboratory and field while gaining insight into their future academic and career opportunities. Students attend field trips to University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and University of Massachusetts Amherst to network with CC-RISE alums who have successfully made the transition from the Community College to four-year universities.

“We are opening doors for students who might not have thought further study or a promising career in science is an option for them. Our students leave the internship with training in molecular techniques, they learn quality control in the labs, how to stabilize media, read scientific literature, publish and present their findings and they also attend lectures with college students from prestigious universities all around the country,” said Dr. Margrethe Serres, Professor of Microbiology at Cape Cod Community College and Coordinator of the CC-RISE program.

Renan and Tom working in the lab

The CC-RISE internship is measurably impacting the lives of student participants. Nick O’Sadcia is candid about how the the CC-RISE internship changed his life trajectory. “ It was my first internship and without it I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was able to network and meet people like Bruce Strickrott, the DSV ALVIN Group manager”.

This fortuitous introduction led to Nick securing a position working with the engineering group who oversee the famous submersible ALVIN. The time Nick spent working with the DSV ALVIN Group helped him determine that his true passions lay in engineering rather than microbiology and his career aspirations have changed accordingly;

“I will graduate in May of 2018 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and it is my plan to hopefully be hired with the ALVIN Group if not another engineering group within the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution”.

The Cape Cod Regional STEM Network aims at developing more internship experiences modeled after the CC-RISE program to benefit students interested in STEM careers, local STEM industries, innovators, educators, and researchers, creating vital connections and building the STEM pipeline in our region. Contact Bridget Burger, Director, Cape Cod Regional STEM Network at

Article Written By Allison Bresette and Mary Petiet