When searching for a job, recent graduates who gained experience in their field through internships, fellowships or part-time work as a student have an advantage over their peers. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) strives to provide these meaningful experiences so that the young professionals who will one day be responsible for working with communities on Great Lakes issues will be prepared, knowledgeable and confident in their abilities. IISG’s most recent cohort of interns—12 in total—have started a summer of meaningful work and will also be completing professional development trainings as part of the internship program. Read about their backgrounds and internship projects below.
Are you an undergraduate student interested in an internship? We post opportunities on our Summer Internship Program page each year in January, so be sure to check back next year! You can also contact Angela Archer for more information.
Community Engagement Intern with Shedd Aquarium
Meghanne Burns (she/her) is a senior at Purdue University Northwest pursuing a degree in biology with minors in chemistry and environmental science. This summer, Meghanne is interning with the conservation action team at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago under Maggie Cooper as part of Sea Grant’s Community Engagement Internship program. She is managing and expanding on the program Let’s Shedd Plastic by creating educational materials about plastic pollution for the public, as well as working directly with local restaurants to reduce their plastic waste.
Fun Fact: Meghanne has played saxophone for over 8 years!
Stormwater Infrastructure Intern
Madelyn Craft (she/her) is an incoming senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, majoring in sustainable design with minors in landscape studies and natural resource conservation. This summer, she will be a stormwater infrastructure intern in a program supervised by Eliana Brown. Projects this summer consist of mining Illinois MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer systems) reports for information to include in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Report, and working with the volunteers and leaders of the Red Oak Rain Garden in Urbana, Illinois to help the amazing garden thrive. She is most interested in native plants, green infrastructure, and environmental restoration. She is pursuing a career where she can implement aspects of both green infrastructure and landscape restoration into creating urban spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally beneficial, in the hopes of building healthier communities.
Fun Fact: Madelyn enjoys birdwatching and reading.
Community Engagement Intern with National Park Service
Gianna Galante (she/her) attends Indiana University, studying law and public policy with a minor in environmental science. This summer, she is working with the Indiana Dunes National Park pollinator crew as part of our Community Engage ment Internship program. She is working on butterfly and flower surveys for the park, and she is working on science communication and literacy independently.
Fun Fact: Gianna loves paddle boarding and kayaking at Lake Michigan, and painting!
Community Engagement Intern with Chicago Wilderness Alliance
Oceana Hamilton (she/her) is a junior at School of the Art Institute of Chicago studying fine arts through an art and the environment program. This summer, she is working with Laura Reilly and Maria Sadowski at the Chicago Wilderness Alliance, through our Community Engagement Internship program, focusing on event planning and social media.
Fun fact: During her free time, she works as a multidisciplinary artist on environmental concept art in game design, drag fashion design, sculpture, illustration and more, focused on the intersection between art and environmental science.
Stormwater Infrastructure Intern
Chantal Korde (she/her) is an upcoming junior majoring in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. This summer, she is a stormwater infrastructure intern working on MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer systems) reports with Eliana Brown and Layne Knoche. She is very interested in sustainable living, and hopes to work in that field after college. She enjoys reading with her tuxedo cat back home.
Fun fact: Chantal loves yoga!
Virtual Reality (VR) Intern
Xuanshu Lin (he/him) just obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in urban studies and planning and Bachelor of Science degree in sustainable design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with highest honors in May. This summer, he is working with Ashley Belle and Megan Gunn, primarily focusing on recording and creating VR materials based on the Grand Calumet River Area of Concern near southern Lake Michigan. Lin is excited about being part of communicating the site’s remediation process.
Fun fact: Lin is a semi-professional magician. If you see him around the Purdue campus, where he’s working this summer, performing magic tricks on random people, please come forward and ask for a special treat!
Chengxu “Gary” Liu
Stormwater Infrastructure Intern
Chengxu “Gary” Liu (he/him) is a rising super-senior (5th year senior) at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, double majoring in natural resources and environmental science and crop sciences. This summer, Gary is working in the stormwater management program supervised by Eliana Brown and Layne Knoche. He will be working with MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer systems) reports from EPA to classify and reorganize the information related to green infrastructure development. He will also work on a project focused on soil infiltration and soil-water quality analysis at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Red Oak Rain Garden on campus.
Fun Fact: Gary loves solo-traveling to different places and would love to capture many natural landscapes and unforgettable moments on the way.
Great Lakes Education Intern
Naomi Michael (she/her) is going into her junior year at Purdue University majoring in natural resources and environmental science. This summer, she is working with Janice Milanovich and Kristin TePas as part of IISG’s education team. Naomi is working on several projects, including creating introductory videos explaining water quality parameters and how they connect to form overall water health. She is also working on a project creating a collection of water quality phenomena.
Fun fact: Naomi enjoys hiking!
Sustainable Communities Intern
Mereya Riopedre (she/her) is a rising senior at Loyola University Chicago studying environmental studies and global studies with a minor in urban studies. She is working as the sustainable communities intern with Kara Salazar, assistant program leader for community development and sustainable communities Extension specialist. This summer, she will be contributing to a variety of community education projects through research and website development. Topics include green planning and hazard mitigation, Illinois-Indiana Master Watershed Steward Program curriculum, septic system ordinance development in northwest Indiana counties, rainscaping education, renewable energy and land use megatrends, and rural housing resource scoping. Mereya is passionate about sustainable development, environmental justice, and food waste reduction.
Fun fact: Mereya played the harp for 10 years!
Aquatic Invasive Species Intern
Matthew Siciliano (he/him) attends the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and will be a junior in natural resources and environmental sciences this fall. This summer, Matthew is working with Greg Hitzroth, Katie O’Reilly, and fellow intern Colin Tang as part of the aquatic invasive species (AIS) team. He will be traveling to various boat launches in northeastern Illinois to observe boating behavior and interview water recreationists. His internship goals include providing outreach to better inform boater and angler behavior to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, taking inventory of boat launch signage and informing future locations, mapping high traffic areas and other qualities of boat launches, and assessing the effectiveness of designated AIS removal zones. Matthew’s hobbies include playing sports, photography, and gardening.
Fun fact: Matthew coaches a 12u baseball team.
Aquatic Invasive Species Intern
Colin Tang (he/him) is a rising junior at the University of Delaware studying marine science with a concentration in biology and a double minor in coastal and marine geosciences and applied music. This summer, he is part of the aquatic invasive species (AIS) team with Greg Hitzroth, Katie O’Reilly, and fellow intern Matthew Siciliano. The team is working on education, outreach, and data collection surrounding boater behaviors and actions, and figuring out suggestions to promote behaviors that prevent the spread of AIS. Colin and Matthew will be traveling to different boat launch sites around Lake Michigan to observe behavior and survey recreational water users.
Fun fact: Colin plays the oboe! Music has been a really big part of his life, and he still really enjoy it to this day. Colin traveled to Prague last summer with his university’s wind ensemble.
Pollution Prevention Intern
Zoey (she/her) is a rising junior at Lake Forest College double majoring in biology and environmental studies along with minoring in english. She is working with the pollution prevention team with Sarah Zack. Zoey’s role this summer is to create and distribute a survey to Indiana homeowners that focuses on their lawn care practices. From there, that research data will act as a needs assessment for the team to decide what educational material to provide Indiana residents. She is also aiding with the progress of the Marine Debris Action Plan.
Fun fact: Zoey has been a bird keeper for a colony of African Penguins and over nine different raptor species!
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Contact: Angela Archer