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Environmental Science & Studies: VRI-SRSP

A guide to Environmental Science resources at the Woodruff Library.

Vereen Research institute (VRI) | Summer Research Scholars Program (SRSP)

 The VRI-SRSP is a formal, competitive internship sponsored by grant funds awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The VRI-SRSP is designed to provide undergraduate students with theoretical knowledge, practical training in academic research, and critical exposure to graduate and professional school preparation emphasizing environmental and metagenomic studies-focused career trajectories un the direct mentorship of VRI faculty and Research mentors.

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VRI-SRSP Documents

Research Project Process

Research Project Components – research question, background, hypothesis, relevant databases, analyses

  1. Identify the research problem clearly and justify its selection,
  2. Review previously published literature associated with the problem area,
  3. Clearly and explicitly specify hypotheses [i.e., research questions] central to the problem selected,
  4. Effectively describe the data which will be necessary for an adequate test of the hypotheses and explain how such data will be obtained, and
  5. Describe the methods of analysis which will be applied to the data in determining whether or not the hypotheses are true or false.
  6. Complete data analysis
  7. Prepare report and presentation of project


Free open source online citation tool, easier to use than RefWorks. Zotero works with Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux but not Internet Explorer (IE) or Google Chrome.

Career Development Resources

Research Workshop #1: June 11

P1: Prevalence of Point and Non-Point Pollutant Sources in Urban Watershed

Project One will concentrate on a systematic literature review studying the prevalence of point and non-point pollutant sources in urban watersheds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines point source pollution as “any single identifiable source of pollution from which pollutants are discharged, such as a pipe, ditch, ship or factory smokestack,” and are regulated by federal and state agencies. Nonpoint source pollution is a combination of pollutants from a large area rather than from specific identifiable sources such as discharge pipes. Runoff is generally associated with nonpoint source pollution, as water is emptied into streams or rivers after accumulating contaminants from sources like gardens, parking lots or construction sites. When it rains excessively, a combined sewer system may not be able handle the volume of water, and some of the combined runoff and raw sewage will overflow from the system, discharging directly into the nearest waterbody without being treated. This combined sewer overflow (CSO) is considered point source pollution, and can cause severe damage to human health and the environment. We will conduct a comprehensive review of the research papers published in the last decade (since 2010), last five years (since 2015) or single year (?) focusing on point and nonpoint source (NPS) pollution in urban watersheds for a review article/presentation/poster. The identification of pollution from different sources and estimation of NPS pollution using various models in urban watersheds should be summarized. Are there innovative techniques used to examine or abate point and NPS pollution?

  • The point and non‐point source pollution in urban watersheds will be systematically reviewed and documented.
  • This review will evaluate and summarize the identification, quantification, reduction, and management of point and NPS pollution in urban watersheds.
  • Future perspectives of point and NPS pollution research should be discussed. What’s next – areas for future research.



Comparison of Sewer Systems


These images show the difference between a combined sewer overflow system found in many older cities, and a sewer system where sanitary and stormwater are completely separated. During heavy rains combined sewer overflow systems mix raw sewage with rainwater runoff and discharge it directly into the nearest waterbody without treatment. Photo: Washington DC Water and Sewer Authority.

P2/P3: Relationship Between Urban Watershed Quality and Race/Income

Projects Two and Three will each respectively explore the relationship between urban watershed water quality and race or income, using meta-analysis techniques. In the study, ‘The Relationship Between Urban Forests and Race: A meta-analysis’ the authors Watkins and Gerrish (2017) note that there is well-documented evidence that urban trees benefit the physical, mental, and social health of urban residents. The environmental justice hypothesis posits that environmental amenities like urban forest cover are inequitably low in poor and minority communities. If so, these communities experience fewer urban forest benefits, and so experience a form of environmental injustice. While some previous, mostly city-specific, studies have found that urban forest cover is inequitably distributed by race, other studies have found no relationship, or even negative inequity. Both the city-specific nature of the existing literature and its conflicting results suggest a need for a research synthesis. We will conduct a comprehensive review of the research papers published in the last decade (since 2010), last five years (since 2015) or single year (?) examining the relationship between urban watershed water quality and race, or income, similar to the urban forests and race review paper.

  • Relationships between urban watershed water quality and race, or income will be systematically reviewed and documented.
  • This review will identify the relationships, evaluate and summarize potential contributing factors and drivers of the relationships (and potentially each separately), and quantify/determine significance of relationships across racial groups or income levels of urban watershed water quality and race, or income.
  • Future perspectives of this form of potential environmental injustice research should be discussed. What’s next – areas for future research.

P4: Environmental Responses (Water Quality/Watershed) to COVID-19

Project Four, through exploration of publicly available datasets, will explore environmental responses (water quality, urban watershed) to COVID-19.

As undergraduate students in biology, we are trained to test our hypotheses by designing and conducting data-generating studies. While these processes are essential for any science, data collection can often be a lengthy, difficult or expensive process. An alternative way that makes this process more approachable is to use publicly available data through which scientists can also answer many research questions. For this project you will search several resources to help you find relevant data for use in your research project. For example:

Last updated on 6/4: We’re all trying to understand the connection between environmental variables and the spread of COVID-19, but we need to better understand how, and quickly. We need more testing, data, and statistically significant results. This COVID-19 resource center is 100% dedicated to sharing leading resources from around the world to better understand how we can leverage the environmental technology and developer community and advance our understanding of COVID-19 to help solve this global pandemic.


Relevant Databases & Resources

Data Sets: Statistical Sources

Research Skill Building Tools

PRISMA Flow Chart