RISEUP: Research Internships for a Sustainable Environment with Undergraduate Participation

Alumni RISEUP Projects


During Summer 2015, four interns from across the country teamed up with professors at Michigan universities and businesses to research environmental sustainability issues in Detroit and the Great Lakes. As RISEUP 2015 comes to a close, interns are working diligently to complete their final reports. If there is no link to a final report below, please check back soon!

Heavy Metal Mapping and Community Responses in Urban Gardens
Intern: Brett Zeuner, Eastern Michigan University
Mentor: Dr. Larry Lemke, Wayne State University
Concerns about exposure to unhealthy levels of heavy metals in soils redeveloped for food production in urban gardens in the City of Detroit are investigated by measuring metal levels and variability, and impacts of soil modifications or replacement. The project will observe reactions to reports (some of which, as in 2014, are expected to exceed state criteria) and recommend sustainable responses that protect gardeners and customers health. 

The Role of Environmental Education and Community Outreach in Organizational Sustainability of the Belle Isle Aquarium
Intern: Jaime Gonzalez, Cosumnes River College
Mentor:  Dr. Alisa V. Moldavanova, Wayne State University
This study was conducted to better understand the role environmental education and community outreach play in enhancing institutional capacity and ensuring organizational sustainability of the Belle Isle Aquarium. For this project we used a mixed method approach to analyze both qualitative & quantitative data regarding the Belle Isle Aquarium. We found that community outreach and educational programs at the Aquarium are important to visitors but so few have actually attended that it’s difficult to conclusively say whether or not they contribute to forming a lasting commitment to the Aquarium. Analysis also found that community outreach efforts and educational programs at the Aquarium could be improved by increasing capacity, funding, and public awareness. Finally, it was discovered that the Aquarium’s current partnerships are mostly focused on funding revival efforts and operational capacity (i.e. short-term sustainability), however the Aquarium is beginning to expand and diversify its partnerships (e.g. universities, other arts & culture institutions) which will contribute to institutional capacity and longer-term sustainability.

Comparative Effects of Green Infrastructure (GI) Improvements on Neighborhood Satisfaction, Engagement, and Health
Intern: Andrea Pugh, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Mentor: Dr. Natalie Sampson, University of Michigan, Dearborn
This project compares four Detroit neighborhoods: two with GI treatments designed into demolition processes, and two control sites with no GI treatments. The intern will work with researchers and a community organizer from each neighborhood to conduct random sample surveys that measure residents’ perceptions of their neighborhood, levels of community engagement, and health near GI and control sites

Sustainable Small Harbor Management Strategies
Intern: Nathan Christie, Wayne State University
Mentor: Dr. Sanjiv Sinha and Dr. Donald Carpenter, Environmental Consulting & Technology (ECT), Inc. and Lawrence Tech University
This project seeks to develop long-term, sustainable strategies that will enable Michigan’s Great Lakes coastal communities to maximize the benefits of their harbor facilities in the face of such challenges as extreme water level variation and uncertainty surrounding future state and federal harbor maintenance support. More specifically, this project is concerned with the sustainability of Michigan’s small and medium size harbors – particularly shallow draft (less than 14 feet depth), recreational harbors, as opposed to deep draft, cargo-handling ports. Deep draft, cargo-handling ports typically receive priority in government operation and maintenance funding because of their commercial importance.




Improving Water Management in the Great Lakes Basin
Jonathan Witham

Major of study: Environmental Engineering
Home university: Michigan Technological University
Chosen project: "
Improving Water Management in the Great Lakes Basin: Environmental Benefits, Financial Implications & Effective Knowledge Transfer"
Mentor: Jeffrey E. Edstrom and Jodi McCarthey, Environmental Consulting & Technology (ECT), Inc.
Small Scale Variability of Metals in Urban Gardens
Jenai Quan

Major of study: Biology
Home university: Calvin College
Chosen project"Small Scale Variability of Metals in Urban Community Gardens"
Mentor: Larry Lemke, Associate Professor of Geology and Director of the Environmental Science Program, Wayne State University. His research focuses on modeling the fate and transport of contaminants in groundwater, air, and soil in natural and urban environments.
Major of study: Geography (GIS) major with Urban Planning minor
Home University: 
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chosen Project: "Environment and Well-Being of Post-Industrial City Inhabitants"
Mentors: Joan Nassauer, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Michigan & Natalie Sampson, School of Public Health, University of Michigan
Control across the Michigan/ Ontario international border,  Phragmites haplotype and rhizome drift within the Detroit River
Philip Bielak

Major of study: Environmental Engineerging 
Home university: Olivet College
Chosen project: "
Environmental Issues and Action Plans at the Belle Isle State Park" focused on the specific problem of the phragmites invasive plant infestation on Belle Isle
Mentor:  Melvadean Pearson, Belle Isle Conservancy and Jeffrey Ram, Wayne State University
Assessing Great Lakes Areas of Concern and Beneficial Use Impairments
Rachel Miksys
Major of study: Biological Sciences
Home university: Wayne State University
Chosen project: "Assessing Great Lakes Areas of Concern and Beneficial Use Impairments"
Mentor: Rosanne Ellison, Environmental Protection Agency
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