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Honors Student Devin Comba Talks about Her Internship at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Devin Comba conducting research on the young striped bass.

Devin Comba

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Edgewater, Maryland


Ogden Honors student Devin Comba has been interning with the Fish and Invertebrate Ecology Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center for her summer research experience.

According to their website, the lab “addresses broad problems of population and community ecology using long-term quantitative sampling, animal behavior/movement studies and innovative experiments at multiple spatial and temporal scales.” Their studies also analyze human impacts and natural change in freshwater, estuarine and marine systems.

“It’s a blast,” Comba said.

Comba explained that the research she is involved with looks at striped bass as a model species to get an idea of habitat quality and forage base in Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Her summer has consisted of trips into the field to collect young striped bass and time dissecting fish already collected.

Devin Comba

“I grew up fishing for striped bass (we call them rockfish in Maryland), so it is special for me to be able to contribute to the understanding of their life history, which can lead to refined conservation methods,” she said.

With the dissections, many of the organs go to the disease ecology lab where they will be analyzed for parasites, another parameter of habitat quality. The main thing Comba focuses on is the stomach content analysis and the length versus weight of the fish to determine the prey quality and importance to the striped bass in tributaries.

 Story by Jacqueline DeRobertis.