Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [The New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute]

Undergraduate Internships Funded by NJWRRI

New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute has funds available certain years for undergraduate internships. Please check here for updates.


Measuring the Viscosity of Two-phase Nonaqueous Phase Liquid-water Systems in the Presence of a Cosolvent

Advisor: Dr. Kenneth Lee

Undergraduate: Jessica Bernardini

Water Recovery from Impaired Waters Using CO2 Gas Hydrate Technology

Advisor: Dr. Sean Liu

Undergraduate: Kristina Carl

Assessing Subwatersheds within the Great Egg Harbor River Basin

Advisor: Dr. William J. Cromartie

Undergraduate: Lauren Keltos

Evaluating Water Quality Relationships to Urbanization Patterns in Gloucester County, New Jersey

Advisor: Dr. John Hasse

Undergraduate: Donna Moffett

Measuring the Viscosity of Two-phase Nonaqueous Phase Liquid-water Systems in the Presence of a Cosolvent

Jessica Bernardini, advised by Dr. Kenneth Lee

The main objective of this research was to measure the viscosities of two-phase nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL) – water systems in the presence of a cosolvent. In order to present accurate and publishable data, an apparatus that would be efficient in measuring the viscosities of the two separate phases had to be created. Acquiring these measurements will lead to a greater understanding for groundwater modeling of contaminated waters.

At the beginning of the research, no apparatus existed or still exists that can simultaneously measure the viscosities of a two-phase NAPL- water system accurately. Due to the absence of a specific instrument to obtain these measurements, past research is somewhat inaccurate and can be misleading. The development of a viscometer with the ability to do the aforementioned tasks was the first step in my research. Several plans were drawn up and considered for assembly. Balls that have little to no friction and are non-reactive with the NAPL- water systems were obtained and much needed to aid in the accuracy of my results. A magnetic ball dropping system was the final design. The balls were dropped for a known distance and controlled in the viscometer with an outside magnet.

Once an acceptable viscometer was decided upon, measurements of the viscosities began. Past research regarding NAPL- water systems was obtained and used to help prepare various concentrations of NAPL- water systems in the presence of a cosolvent. The different concentrations were each tested several times, and an average time and viscosity were calculated from the various tests. Due to the fact that the lab was insufficiently stocked with the various items that were needed to accurately obtain data, the tests are still being done.

When concluded, this research will provide information regarding the effects that NAPLs pose on contaminated groundwater and the change in viscosity that occurs with the interaction of water and the tested contaminates. Some contaminates that were tested include PCE, benzene and toulene with cosolvents of ethanol and methanol.

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Water Recovery from Impaired Waters Using CO2 Gas Hydrate Technology

Kristina Carl, advised by Dr. Sean Liu
Food Science Department, Cook College

In this study, we developed and set up a laboratory scale gas hydrate that was used to characterize CO2 gas hydrates formed under the elevated pressures and above-freezing temperatures. In the early months of the project, we spent a majority of our efforts on testing, and modified the experimental setup based on a high pressure Sexhlot oil extractor cylinder, a thermal couple with electronic recorder, and a cooling bath with a mixture of automotive antifreeze and distilled water. We overcame numerous gas leaks and temperature fluctuations and finalized the experimental procedure by the end of 2005.

At the first part of the experimental project, we filled the cylinder with distilled water and submerged the testing cylinder in the cooling liquid mixture. High pressure CO2 was injected into the cylinder until the pressure reached a pre-set value (2MP, 3MP, and 4 MP). The CO2 inside the test cylinder was used both as reactant with water to form gas hydrate and to maintain the pre-set pressure. Once the experiment started, we recorded the changes in temperature with the thermal couple and pressure drop from the gauge reading. The relationships of temperature vs. time and pressure vs. time were used to infer the formation of CO2 gas hydrates and supercooling of CO2 and water mixture. The temperature history during the experiment was examined for any indication of existence of supercooling and its profile was used to assess the energy requirement for the formation of gas hydrates.

The second part of the project was to examine whether the addition of biological ice nucleators would result in faster and more energy-efficient gas hydrate formation. We repeated the experiment under the conditions of the previous experiment with the exception of addition of some quantity (5g) of ice nucleator proteins. To our disappointment, we did not observe any difference between the experimental results from the first part of the project and those from the second part.

There were several reasons that might contribute to the disappointing results if the hypothesis of the project was sound: (1) the setup (apparatus) was too elementary to detect the subtle difference between the results from the two experiments in the project; (2) the high-pressure cylinder in which the gas hydrates were formed does not have any transparent “window” so the direct observations of formation of the gas hydrates were impossible (the commercial cylinder for gas hydrate experiments costs $37,000), which further complicated the data comparison between two experiments.

Throughout the project, the undergraduate intern was able to learn how to conduct an real-world experiment from beginning to the end and to understand the challenge and excitement of doing scientific research.

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Assessing Subwatersheds within the Great Egg Harbor River Basin

Lauren Keltos, advised by William J. Cromartie, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Water Resource Problem

Collecting and analyzing baseline data of the existing visual, biological, chemical, and morphological features and conditions of the Great Egg Harbor Watershed is one of the most fundamental ways that we can learn about, understand and then manage to protect water quality.  With 49 subwatersheds (HUC-14s) in the watershed, collecting detailed data on each one of these units is a daunting task. One ongoing problem with water quality assessment in Pinelands watersheds like the Great Egg Harbor is the assignment of all non-attainment New Jersey AMNET sites in Pinelands watersheds to 303(D) Sublist 3, "insufficient data". Present EPA and NJ metrics for measuring “aquatic-life-use-attainment” in low pH waters fail to discriminate among sites with different levels and types of impairment. This impedes our ability to address the causes of water quality degradation, including habitat, benthic community and hydrologic alterations, along with sedimentation and nonpoint chemical pollution in Pinelands waters. There is an urgent need to develop eco-region specific metrics for aquatic life attainment and reference condition identification in the Great Egg Harbor River and other Pinelands watersheds. Without sufficient, unambiguous data, it is very difficult to obtain meaningful water quality measurements, plan and implement remediation and restoration, and improve water quality for the long term.

Project Description

Visual, chemical, stream morphological, and biological data for two subwatersheds were collected to identify both natural conditions and alterations or stressors that impact water quality. One possible reference subwatershed (Gravelly Run, already studied in spring and summer 2005) and one other subwatershed (upper Babcock Creek) were studied.  Sampling was done fall 2005 through spring 2006. Parameters tested included pH, specific conductance, temperature, redox potential and abundance of selected taxa of aquatic macroinvertebrates (insects, snails, etc.).

The student researcher assisted in all phases of the work, supervised in field work experience by Fred Akers, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association (GEHWA) Administrator, and by Dr. Cromartie.

Sampling methods

The same portable instruments used in earlier studies were employed to measure pH and Specific Conductance (SC) and temperature, along with a set of lightweight electronic probes for pH, SC, redox, and temperature. For macroinvertebrates, we sampled woody debris, following the protocol developed at Stockton College in 2003-2005.  For all sampling stations, replicate samples will be obtained on the same date to determine within site variability as well as differences between sampling stations and subwatersheds. Specimens were identified to the lowest taxonomic level necessary to obtain an unambiguous categorization of the watersheds. All samples are retained in the collection at Stockton College. All parameters are incorporated into the GEHR database at Stockton.

Data analysis

Collected data were tabulated and analyzed using PC-ORD, CANOCO 4.5 and ArcGIS software. The relationship of land use to stream parameters in the data obtained in 2005-06 is strong (see Cromartie, et al. 2005) and can be demonstrated using these multivariate methods. Gravelly Run, the potential reference site, compares well to other known high-quality subwatersheds in both the Great Egg Harbor and Mullica drainages (Zampella et al. 2001). The student researcher developed a preliminary geodatabase design for the project data, along with data from earlier studies, the GEHWA and the NJ DEP. This will allow continuous incorporation of data from the current sites and from additional subwatersheds as the project proceeds.

Literature Cited

Robert A. Zampella, John F. Bunnell, Kim J. Laidig, and Charles L. Dow. 2001. The MullicaRiver Basin: A Report To The Pinelands Commission On The Status Of The Landscape And Selected Aquatic And Wetland Resources. NJ Pinelands Commission. New Lisbon NJ. 371 pp.


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Evaluating Water Quality Relationships to Urbanization Patterns
in Gloucester County, New Jersey

Donna Moffett, advised by Dr. John Hasse
Department of Geography and Anthropology, Rowan University

This report documents the work performed by Donna Moffett, a senior geography major at Rowan University supported by funding from New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute under the directorship of Dr. John Hasse, Rowan University.

Work Accomplished: Research Question I

Under an EPA-funded program, an engineering team at Rowan is evaluating the potential feasibility for wastewater recycling within Gloucester County, NJ. Donna has assisted this team in developing a GIS database in which the location of potential sources and potential users have been identified. Donna’s data development assistance has resulted in the completion of an engineering student’s Masters thesis and on going research related to wastewater recycling in Gloucester County.

Work Accomplished: Research Question II

In phase II, Donna conducted research in evaluating relationships between smart growth, urban sprawl and water quality. Utilizing the NJ DEP Land Use/Land Cover GIS database which contains information on impervious surface coverage, Donna’s analysis performed GIS overlay analysis to determine whether or not and to what degree there is a relationship between impervious surface, smart growth and sprawl. Donna’s work culminated in the presentation of the research at the Association of American Geographer’s Annual Conference in Chicago, IL in March 7-11, 2006 (figure 1).

Summary Statement: Research Question II

This research examined the relationship between urban form and impervious surface. Smart growth development (compact, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly, etc.) has been held up as a solution to the negative consequences of urban sprawl (low density, scattered and poorly coordinated urbanization). For example, smart growth has been hailed as a solution to traffic congestion, the loss of open space, the consumption of open space and other environmental impacts attributed to sprawl. This analysis explores the relationship of sprawl/smart growth to one very widely used indicator of water quality, impervious surface.

The study first graded development in Gloucester County, NJ on a smart growth/sprawl scale utilizing housing-unit density (Hasse 2004) as a proxy for sprawl. The analysis evaluated impervious surface at three watershed levels (HUC-11, HUC-14 and a smaller sub-watershed level produced by the research team utilizing GIS) by utilizing the impervious surface values contained in the NJ DEP land use/land cover data. A correlation evaluation was then made between the urban density value and the gross as well as percentage amounts of impervious surface for each watershed scale throughout the county.


Our results show that a significant correlation exists between intensities of impervious surface and sprawl although the correlation varied depending on the scale of the watershed. The strongest correlation for total percent impervious surface versus urban density was at the basin-level (HUC-11), the largest scale. These results indicate that spread out, sprawling development is generally located within watersheds that have lower intensities of impervious surface. In other words, watersheds with sprawling urbanization have lower percentages of total impervious surface and thus are indicated to have less impacted water quality than high density urbanization. In contrast, when looking at a per capita basis, watersheds with sprawling urbanization have substantially larger quantities of impervious surface per person than higher urban-density watersheds. The strongest correlation of the impervious surface per capita analysis was at the sub-watershed level, the smallest scale.


Sprawl has a complex relationship with impervious surface and thus water quality. Watersheds with high-density development (smart growth) actually have higher percentages of impervious surface (i.e. more degraded water quality) than sprawling watersheds at the local sub-watershed level. These finding may suggest that sprawl is actually good for water quality compared with high-density growth. However, when normalizing by the number of people that occupy sprawling development, our findings show that substantially more impervious surface is produced overall with sprawl than with high-density growth. Sprawl has a larger impervious footprint consuming more watersheds than smart growth, but the impact is less intense.


Research Intern Donna Moffett at the 2006 Association of American Geographer’s Annual Conference

Future Outcomes: Research Question II

The results of this research are currently being written up for submission to the Middle States Geographers Journal. The results of this research are also expected to be building blocks to further research.


Donna Moffett and Dr. Hasse would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for the support provided by the NJ WWRI, Dr. Joan Ehrenfeld, and Priscila Walsh.

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