Lamont-Doherty's Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP) brings high school students, science teachers and undergrads to the Lamont campus each summer for six weeks of field and laboratory research. Once on campus, the students and teachers are treated as early-career scientists, with our researchers as their mentors.
This field and laboratory science internship program engages high school students in authentic, rigorous research projects. The primary research site is the Piermont Marsh, which is part of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, where students conduct a wide range of environmental and ecological studies, including sediment accumulation, groundwater chemistry, nutrient cycling, bacterial levels, fish species, fish feeding patterns, invasive and native plant distributions, and more, while working in teams under the mentorship of Columbia researchers and technicians. There are also additional lab placement opportunities during the summer in LDEO and Earth Institute laboratories.
Students take an after school preparatory course in the spring focused on field ecology, then spend 6 weeks carrying out their research. This is followed by an after school class on data handling in the fall.
In addition to their hands-on work, the students and teachers read and discuss scientific literature, receive one-on-one mentoring from Lamont researchers, and take classes in data analysis and field science. Each team creates a research poster and a PowerPoint presentation at the end of the summer. After the completion of the summer program, the SSFRP works year-round with students and teachers at schools on after-school science projects and science fair submissions. Our high school students and teachers have presented abstracts at the Geological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, the Society of Wetlands Scientists, and the Passaic River Symposium, as well in their local communities and schools.
During the summers, we have collaborated with the Harlem Children’s Society, Columbia University and the National Science Foundation to provide stipends or part-time work for students. Several of our students have used their experience in the Program to get ongoing part-time jobs as laboratory technicians.