University faculty and agency scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) represent a wide range of research interests and specialties, covering deep sea, coastal, and estuarine environments. A listing of HMSC faculty mentors and potential REU projects follows below. Be sure to list the faculty mentors and projects that interest you on your application. For researchers located at the main Oregon State University (OSU) campus with the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospherics Sciences (CEOAS) can be found here.

While students work independently with their research mentors, there are numerous opportunities to interact with other scientists and students at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport and in CEOAS and other departments on the Corvallis campus, through orientation, weekly seminars, group field trips, social events, and final project presentations. A list of potential mentors and project research areas appears below. Please remember to browse this list and indicate those faculty and research areas that most interest you on your application.

For more information specific to the HMSC internships, please contact Itchung Cheung and the CEOAS internships, please contact Kaplan Yalcin.

HMSC Mentors - *= accepting 2019 intern applicants (update planned for: 1/2/19)

Scott Baker* 
Professor and Associate Director Marine Mammal Institute
Cetacean biology and conservation genetics

Scott Baker is broadly interested in the evolutionary and ecological pattern and process in whales and dolphins, including their abundance, population structure, genetic diversity and systematic relationships. Scott is particularly interested in projects that bring together both molecular and demographic approaches to improve the conservation of these species. The advent of molecular genetics and the emerging fields of genomics and bioinformatics have provided powerful new tools to describe the hierarchical structure of biodiversity. These tools complement and extend, rather than replace, demographic methods used in animal ecology and conservation biology.

Current Research Topics include:

  • Population structure and genetic diversity of whales, dolphins, sea lions and fur seals
  • Demographic and genetic impacts of whaling
  • Molecular taxonomy and applied bioinformatics for species identification
  • Molecular monitoring of ‘whalemeat’ markets in Japan and Korea
  • Social organization and kinship in whales and dolphins
  • The evolution of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) genes in cetaceans and pinniped

One of the recent initiatives of Scott’s research group has been to establish a web-based program for identification of whales, dolphins and porpoises using applied bioinformatics and a validated database of DNA sequences. Details are available at An exciting outcome of establishing this database was the discovery of a new species of beaked whales, Mesoplodon perrini (Dalebout et al. 2002) the first mammalian species recognised primarily by genetic characters and the first new species of cetaceans in 15 years.


Michael Banks*
Associate Professor
Population Biology and Genetics

Michael Banks' program centers on the application of population genetic and genomic principles towards towards a better of processes important to the management, utilization and conservation of marine fisheries. We focus on genetic characterization of natural populations, fishery subjects and aquacultural species where we often resolve hybridized, admixed, or recently diverged populations, methods to determine population membership of mixed fishery samples, as well as individual unknown samples from various contexts (such as water diversions). We are also interested in application of genomic tools to learn how fish (or other creatures important to the fishery food chain) orient in space, smell and time and how findings related to their interaction for mating, migration, respons to environmental variability, etc. 

Projects in Banks' lab are diverse and include the following:

  • Analyzing RNA transcripts to determine the different kinds of proteins a deadly oyster herpes virus (OsHV-1) uses to infect and kill Pacific oysters.
  • Extracting and application of molecular markers (such as SNPs, microsatellites or other genetic elements including reduced representation full genome approaches) from marine organisms so that we can study their population structure, dynamics, ecology and life history variance (for example: we study salmonids, rockfish, sardines, their predators and parasites) 
  • Determining population origin of adult Chinook salmon captured in the ocean through characterization against a coast-wide microsatellite baseline and applying these techniques to determine the distribution of different life history types during ocean residence;
  • Related to this we have long term interests in determining the genetic basis for how salmon orient in space, time and smell. 
  • RNAseq characterization of copepods captured from long-term (climate change) sampling transects off Newport and elsewhere (along with associated environmental conditions) to determine if relative gene expression analysis can complement inferences on how fluxes in copepod physiology and community inform upper trophic level fishery indexes;
  • Genetic, ecology and policy aspects of the feasibility of sea otter restoration in Oregon
  • Population structure and assessment of the potential persistence (or lack thereof) of the genomic underpinnings for anadromy among steelhead (and rainbow trout) at the southern extreme of their natural distribution in the Pacific Northwest despite the recent long-term drought in that region.
  • Genomic and behavioral ecology aspects of mate choice in hatchery and wild salmon and experimental assessment of applications of ‘wild-like’ mate choice in hatcheries as a means of reducing the lower relative reproductive success of hatchery salmon


Susanne Brander*
Assistant Professor (Department of Environmental & Molecular Toxicology (EMT)

The Brander lab’s research encompasses the fields of toxicology, endocrinology, and ecology; integrating molecular approaches with measurements at the organism and population level. Current work examines the impact of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) on gene and protein expression, behavior, sex ratio, and population dynamics in fish and invertebrates.  We are also examining the potential for transgenerational effects following early life exposure to pollutants, and studying the effects of microplastics.

Potential summer projects:
  • Field collection of biota for microplastic analysis
  • Fish response to environmental pollutants


Richard Brodeur
Associate Professor (NOAA)
Fisheries Ecology and Oceanography

Ric Brodeur works with the Fish Ecology (FE) Division on factors related to estuarine and ocean survival of salmon, examining aspects of growth, distribution, and health of juvenile, and predator-prey relationships within the ecosystem. Study sites range from small coastal estuaries near Newport, to larger estuaries such as the Columbia River, to the large coastal ecosystems of the California Current. Interns have worked with the Fish Ecology program on a variety of projects including understanding the distribution and life history of various species of plankton and fish. Ric recently worked with an undergraduate student to examine the food web relationships in the deepwater community of Astoria Canyon. The intern processed trawl samples, examined diets and stable isotopes for origins of food sources. She is a coauthor on a paper that was presented at an international meeting and is presently being published.

Understanding feeding habits of pelagic nekton is important in understanding their trophic position within the northern California current food web and potential changes expected under climate change scenarios. Dietary overlap of pelagic nekton with commercially important fishes such as juvenile salmon could identify the potential of competition for resources during a critical period of survival for salmon. Research into the feeding habits of pelagic nekton could be incorporated into multispecies food-web models and would be of interest to resource managers as they undertake an integrated ecosystem assessment of the California Current. A project exists within the NOAA Estuarine and Ocean Ecology project to analyze the diets of several common nekton species already collected along with new specimens collected this coming summer to look at diet overlap with salmon and compare to past studies done during different environmental conditions.


John Chapman*
Courtesy Associate Professor 
Marine Biological Invasion Ecology

Introduced species are one of the greatest environmental concerns of the new millennium. John is a pioneer of this field in marine and estuarine ecosystems. His studies include the geography, biology, ecology and history of introduced and native marine species. His research is conducted within the local areas surrounding the Hatfield Marine Science Center and the north Pacific and Atlantic. John's most recent REU collaboration involved the energetic costs of an isopod parasite introduced with ballast water to western US estuaries. The student measured the weight loss in its new mudshrimp hosts to estimate per gram energetic costs of this new parasite to its hosts. The student is senior author on a manuscript describing this work being prepared for the Journal of Crustacean Biology. He will present this work also at the international (ASLO) meeting in Hawaii in February 2006.

A strong science background is necessary but specific training and all necessary general information and materials required for independent projects are provided in the program. Possible projects could include the distribution, trophic ecology, or parasite-host relationships of introduced non-native species affecting native salmon or commercial oyster populations. These projects may require sampling trips to Pacific Northwest research areas or laboratory and field manipulations of introduced and native species to determine their interactions in marine and estuary ecosystems. Projects are mentored for completion in the allotted time, for quality and innovation sufficient for eventual publication and for sufficient general interest to warrant presentation at major scientific meetings.


Robert Cowen*
Professor and Director of OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center
Fisheries Oceanography

Under the direction of Su Sponaugle and Bob Cowen, the Plankton Ecology Lab is dedicated to studying the underlying physical and biological dynamics shaping planktonic distributions, especially those of larval fishes and their zooplankton prey. Plankton patchiness, the uneven spatial and temporal distribution of organisms in the ocean significantly influences the growth and survival of fish larvae. The lab utilizes state of the art technologies as well as traditional techniques to study plankton distributions and dynamics. See for more information.

Intern projects may include:

  • Participation in a major oceanographic cruise to sample the mesozooplankton and larval fish communities of the California Current.
  • Assisting with field deployment of SMURFs (Standardized Monitoring Units for the Recruitment of Fishes) along the coast of Oregon to sample fishes settling to nearshore rocky reefs as well as collection of new recruits to tidepools. This is part of an ongoing collaborative monitoring effort with ODFW to better understand population replenishment of nearshore fish inside and outside of marine reserves.
  • Analysis of newly settled coastal Oregon fishes including taxonomic identification, length measurements, otolith (ear stone) dissections to obtain estimated of age and growth rates, and possible gut contents analysis.


Ted DeWitt
Assistant Professor (EPA)
Estuarine Ecology

Ted DeWitt is a part of EPA's Pacific Coastal Ecology Branch at HMSC, which aims to develop the scientific basis for assessing the condition and response of ecological resources of the US Pacific coast estuaries. EPA researchers explore linkages and feedbacks between habitats, fauna, and water quality in Pacific northwest estuaries. Ted is especially interested in the effects of nutrients (and other pollutants) on estuarine invertebrate communities and on critical ecosystem processes. Examples of internship projects include:

  • Investigating effects of eutrophication on various trophic guilds or processes in estuarine food webs (such as, changes in abundance of phytoplankton on filter feeding bivalves or burrowing shrimp, or changes in detritus abundance on bioturbation rates by deposit feeders);
  • Measuring the effect of estuarine invertebrate abundance on nutrient cycling;
  • Determining the roles of competition and physiological tolerance in determining the distribution of estuarine burrowing shrimp and seagrass species.


Brett Dumbauld
Courtesy Associate Professor
Shellfish Aquaculture Ecology

Two major research project’s are being addressed in Brett Dumbauld’s lab: 1) ecology of pests and predators affecting West coast marine shellfish aquaculture with a focus on the problem shellfish growers are currently having with two species of burrowing shrimp that cause their crops to be smothered by estuarine sediments and die and 2) the role of shellfish aquaculture in West coast estuaries with a current focus on the effects of shellfish on eelgrass and other habitat and the use of these habitats including aquaculture beds by other marine organisms.

Study sites include several West coast estuaries where shellfish aquaculture is important from Humboldt Bay, California to Willapa Bay, Washington with a focus on the latter, since this estuary produces over 10% of the nation’s oyster crop. Oyster growers in Washington state have historically applied a pesticide to the estuarine tideflats to kill burrowing shrimp and Brett’s research is designed to examine the life history and behavior of these shrimp to assist the growers in finding alternative control procedures and develop an integrated pest management plan. Pest control and other aquaculture practices certainly influence the estuarine environment, but aquaculture is a very important component of the local coastal economy and Brett’s research is designed to investigate this impact and determine whether these practices are environmentally and economically sustainable and how to keep them that way.

Students can participate in on-going field studies in coastal estuaries and/or carry out experiments in the laboratory. REU projects might involve examining burrowing shrimp molting patterns and behavior, mating, or juvenile growth and behavior with a focus on determining whether there are vulnerable periods for control. Other projects could be related to several avenues of research into how juvenile fish and crab or other organisms utilize shellfish aquaculture areas. These projects have and will continue to offer opportunities to collaborate with other mentors, for example John Chapman with an investigation of how parasitic isopods affect burrowing shrimp populations or Cliff Ryer and Jessica Miller on fish behavior as it relates to shellfish as habitat.


Robert Dziak*
Marine Geophysics, Ocean Engineering and Acoustics

The Acoustic Monitoring Project, managed by Bob Dziak, is a joint venture between Oregon State University and the NOAA Vents Program. The main research focus of the project’s faculty is to develop effective hydroacoustic methods for the detection of earthquakes associated with seafloor volcanic and tectonic activity. To accomplish this goal, researchers use hydrophone arrays that are part of the U.S. Navy's SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS) that monitors northeast Pacific spreading centers in real time. Project personnel also have developed and deployed self-recording (autonomous) hydrophones used for regional experiments throughout the global oceans.

Undergraduate intern projects would involve utilizing the ocean earthquake database to study seafloor volcanic and tectonic processes. An example project would be to use a GIS (e.g. ARC-GIS, GMT, or other mapping tools) to plot earthquakes on a map of the seafloor and then develop a "movie" of how the earthquakes change through time, allowing for insights into the dynamics of short-term plate motion. Earthquake databases available for analysis cover the global oceans, from the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge to the north and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Islands and will soon include the Scotia Sea off the Antarctic Peninsula. In addition, several ocean engineering, software development, and computer management undergraduate intern projects are available. We currently have a project underway to develop a “smart-hydrophone” within a float that can dynamically adjust its buoyancy. When the hydrophone detects a certain type of acoustic signal, the float rises from the seafloor to the sea-surface. Once at the sea-surface, the float transmits a copy of the acoustic signal to a satellite which then relays it to our laboratory for further analysis. We need an intern to develop the software communication (interface) between the hydrophone and the Digital Signal Processor on the float. Requirements for the intern include (1) knowledge of C or C++, and (2) familiarity with digital and analog electronics. The intern will acquire practical knowledge of how to build a DSP platform and gain familiarity with signal processing techniques. This summer REU intern would be involved with shallow water hydrophone work off the Oregon coast in support of wave energy environmental monitoring projects. There will be opportunities to assist in mooring deployment/ recoveries, and drifting hydrophone data collection. The student intern will learn the basic electronic circuitry of the hydrophone instrumentation as well as data processing and analysis.


Joe Haxel*
Assistant Professor, Hatfield Marine Science Center
Ocean Acoustics

Joe's research interests include the application of underwater acoustic methods to explore a broad range of oceanographic, geophysical and climatic processes in the marine environment from seafloor seismic and volcanic activity to weather and sea-ice dynamics. As part of the OSU/ Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS) and NOAA/ Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Acoustics Program Joe uses innovative technologies that include fixed (moorings) and mobile platforms (gliders, surface drifters, etc.) to measure and record ocean sounds in depths ranging from shallow coastal waters just outside the surf zone to the deepest depths of the ocean trenches.

Projects for interns to undertake in the Acoustic Program cover a diverse range of biological, natural and anthropogenic acoustic themes including: 

  • Acoustic monitoring of noise radiated by wave energy conversion devices to assess coastal ecosystem impacts of marine renewable energy development
  • Soundscape characterization identifying the contributions from different sound sources (biological, man-made, natural) to ambient levels in a variety of acoustic environments
  • Seismo-acoustic analysis to determine seafloor tectonic and volcanic activity in remote ocean regions
  • Studies quantifying sounds made by sea-ice disintegration in the polar oceans
  • Bioacoustic surveys of marine mammal vocalizations to describe the presence of important marine species and their acoustic environment


Matt Hawkyard*
Research Associate, Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station
Early Life History, Genetics, Aquaculture

Matt Hawkyard’s research is focused in the area of aquaculture nutrition and disease prevention/control. The culture of marine fish and invertebrates is often challenged by our ability to deliver water-soluble compounds, such as essential nutrients, to these organisms. This is particularly difficult because, unlike terrestrial models, the feed must pass through the aquatic environment and is therefore prone to nutrient losses due to leaching and other processes. Matt uses microencapsulation technologies to deliver water-soluble compounds to marine organisms which can lead to improved growth and survival of target organisms. These tools can be used for a variety of species including finfish, shellfish and planktonic organisms, i.e. live feeds.

Current Research Interests:

  • The use of liposomes for the enrichment of rotifers and Artemia with water-soluble nutrients for enhanced nutrition of marine finfish
  • Evaluation of terrestrial agricultural products as a replacement for marine microalgae for feeding oysters and clams
  • Understanding the role of chemosensory on feed selection and uptake by marine finfish and shellfish
  • Developing oral vaccines and drug delivery platforms for fish
  • Polyculture of macroalgae and marine finfish or shellfish 


Sarah Henkel
Assistant Professor, Hatfield Marine Science Center
Benthic Ecology

Sarah works with the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, examining the ecological effects of wave energy development. Sarah's focus is on fishes and invertebrates associated with the sea floor and those that may become associated with wave energy devices following deployment. Work in Sarah's lab includes large-scale community surveys as well as targeted experiments. 

Project for the intern: Investigating potential changes in caloric density of important prey species (shrimp) associated with the warm blob/El Nino.


Scott Heppell
Associate Professor
Fisheries & Wildlife

Scott Heppell’s research interests are the physiological ecology of fishes, in particular how physiology, behavior, and life history traits affect the interactions between fish populations, their respective fisheries, and the environment. He has worked on bluefin tuna on the Atlantic high seas, Mediterranean, and east coast of the United States, on groupers throughout the southeast Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, on rockfish in Oregon and Alaska, and on trout, steelhead, and salmon in Japan and the high deserts of eastern Oregon and Northern Nevada. Scott collaborates with academic scientists, state and federal agencies, foreign agencies and universities, and commercial and recreational fishermen, working together to try and address issues related to the sustainability of marine and freshwater resources and their ecosystems.

Depending on qualifications and interest, interns might develop a project from several aspects of a current study comparing juvenile rockfish (Sebastes spp.) life history traits between Oregon estuaries of different development levels. This project involves trapping and collecting specimen and community data, lab work for stable isotope and lipid analysis, ageing fish using otoliths, identification of diet components, and processing for proximate analysis (energy content). These projects may require travel with a supervisor to Oregon estuaries or general laboratory skills, but all interns will receive project specific training.


Tom Hurst
Research Fishery Biologist
NOAA - Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Tom Hurst is a Research Fisheries Biologist with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program. Tom's research interests focus in the physiological ecology of fishes and how environmental variability affects the feeding, growth, and survival of early life stages of marine fishes. For example, a recent study compared the depth distribution, light requirements for feeding, and diets of three co-occurring flatfishes. Tom is particularly interested in the pervasive effects of temperature variation on fishes and communities. He recently completed a comprehensive review of the phenomenon of 'winter mortality' and is currently examining how temperature affects fish behavior, including schooling and vulnerability to predators. Species currently being researched are Pacific cod, walleye pollock, northern rock sole and Pacific halibut.

A current area of investigation that an intern would participate in is the effect of ocean acidification on larval and juvenile stages of Alaskan fishes. Ocean acidification is caused by the dissolution of anthropogenically produced CO2 into the surface ocean, reducing the pH of the ocean. Research has shown that low pH can affect the growth, survival, and behavior of small fishes. The selected intern will take primary responsibility for conducting experiments on one of these responses while collaborating on examination of other responses. Ultimately this data will be used in conjunction with climate models of the Bering Sea Gulf of Alaska to determine the long term consequences of ocean acidification to fisheries production.


Kym Jacobson
Research Zoologist
NOAA Fisheries

Kym Jacobson and members of her lab are interested in the ecology of host-parasite interactions. Kym is zoologist with the Estuarine and Ocean Ecology program of NOAA Fisheries. Her current research examines the ecology of host-parasite interactions of anadromous and marine fishes in the Columbia River estuary and the Northeast Pacific Ocean. One area of research in her lab focuses on parasites of juvenile salmon as salmon make the transition from freshwater to estuarine and marine habitats to gain a better understanding of environmental factors that affect salmon-parasite relationships and the potential effects of parasites on growth and survival of salmon populations. Her research also examines parasites obtained through trophic interactions to gain a better understanding of fish diet, migration, and habitat use and conditions. In addition to studying parasite communities of juvenile salmon her lab is also studying parasites of Pacific sardines to gain a better understanding of migration patterns and habitat use to help delineate potential stock separation. Potential projects could examine any life stage of a parasite in fresh water, estuarine, or marine habitat.


Chris Langdon*
Early Life History, Genetics, Aquaculture

Chris Langdon's aquaculture laboratory undertakes research on a broad range of topics including: seaweed (dulse) culture, breeding and genetics of Pacific oysters, nutrition and microparticulate feed development for the larvae of marine mollusks and fish, restoration of Native oysters, effects of ocean acidification on the larval stages of oysters and mussels. The oyster genetics program complements research in Michael Banks' and Brett Dumbauld’s laboratory.  The REU intern would be exposed to many of these research topics and would learn about practical “hands-on” aspects of aquaculture. 

The proposed project for the REU intern in 2019 is to work on phages and probiotics in the control of shellfish diseases.


Ben Laurel
Research Fisheries Biologist
NOAA - Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Ben Laurel is a Research Fisheries Biologist with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program. His interests include the behavioral and physiological ecology of larvae and juvenile fish species in coldwater marine systems. He is particularly interested in the thermal sensitivity of Arctic fish species and how these species will respond to climate change.
Biological data on these species is largely unavailable, yet such data is a critical component of forecasting the future winners and losers in Arctic ecosystems.  Using fish recently collected from the Arctic, potential REU projects could involve live animal experiments to determine how varying species respond to scenarios of climate change.


Jessica A. Miller
Associate Professor (COMES)

I am interested in the ecology and evolution of life history diversity in fishes and the development and maintenance of that diversity. My research focuses on dispersal and transport, population connectivity, and migratory behavior of marine and anadromous fishes. For example, I am interested in how juvenile salmon use coastal watersheds and how management and restoration activities affect those patterns. I have combined techniques, including otolith microchemistry, genetic, and time-series analyses, to provide novel information on these topics. Currently, I am continuing to use otolith microstructure and chemistry to identify patterns of mixing and migration in marine and anadromous and also working on the ecological assessment of estuarine restoration efforts. REU projects could involve reconstruction of migratory behavior in juvenile salmonids, estuarine field research on the impacts of native oyster restoration, or participation in laboratory experiments.


Kathleen O'Malley*
Associate Professor, State Fisheries Geneticist (Fisheries & Wildlife)
Fisheries Genetics and Genomics

Housed within the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, Kathleen O'Malley's work as the State Fisheries Geneticist is a jointly-funded position between the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State University. Kathleen's lab conducts fisheries genetics research that will be of use both to the scientific and management communities, and concentrates on species of ecological, evolutionary, and economic importance.

Research areas include reintroduction of threatened spring Chinook salmon, population connectivity in the marine environment (e.g. albacore tuna, rockfishes, and Dungeness crab), genetic basis of migration timing in salmon, fitness differences between hatchery and wild salmon and steelhead, adaptation to changing climate, and species or sex identification.

More information can be found on Kathleen's website below:


Fiona Tomas Nash
Courtesy Assistant Professor (Fisheries & Wildlife)
Assistant Professor, Instituto Mediterraneo de Estudios Avanzados, University of the Balearic Islands, Spain
Coastal community ecology and conservation

The main theme in our lab is to understand the processes and mechanisms that regulate the structure and functioning of coastal benthic systems, with particular emphasis on how human activities transform them. Research focuses mainly on seagrasses and macroalgae since they provide critical habitat for many species and perform key ecological functions at the land-sea interface. We combine field, mesocosm and laboratory work to understand the ecological consequences of different human impacts (overfishing, eutrophication, climate change and invasive species) on ecosystem health. We are particularly interested in examining the effects of anthropogenic stressors on trophic interactions (predator – prey, plant – herbivore), because these interactions are fundamental in determining ecosystem structure and function as well as species evolution.

Current research on the Oregon coast is examining effects of eutrophication on eelgrass habitats ( as well as interactions between eelgrass and aquaculture.


Daniel M. Palacios
Assistant Professor (Fisheries & Wildlife) - Marine Mammal Institute
Whale Tracking, Data Analytics

Daniel Palacios is an ecologist with a primary interest in understanding the environmental factors that influence whale distribution and movements at a variety of spatio-temporal scales. As a member of the Marine Mammal Institute's Whale Telemetry Group, he focuses on the analysis and visualization of the group’s tracking data sets with the objectives of: a) characterizing critical habitat as well as the spatial aspects of foraging ecology, b) quantifying long-distance migration, navigation, and interactions with human activities, and c) informing the management and conservation of whale populations. Prospective REU interns will implement data science approaches on whale tracking and remotely sensed environmental data sets, and therefore should have a background in statistics or computer science and programming ability. Interns may have the opportunity to participate in ongoing fieldwork, but this will not be the focus of the project.


Shawn Rowe
Associate Professor (College of Education)
Free Choice Learning

As a Marine Education Learning Specialist, Dr. Rowe engages in research on free-choice learning - the kind of learning people do outside classrooms and other formal education settings. He uses the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center as a laboratory to study learning behavior. Dr. Rowe has a background in applied linguistics (studying how people learn language) and developmental psychology in education.

Free-Choice Learning Lab at Hatfield Marine Science Center


Clifford Ryer
Assistant Professor (NOAA)
Behavioral Ecology

Cliff Ryer and other faculty at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program conduct basic and applied studies on fish behavior to improve our understanding of how environmental variables regulate distribution, abundance, growth and survival of marine fishes. The goal is to provide critical information needed to improve survey techniques and population assessments, define essential fish habitat, and to protect and conserve populations of economically significant marine resource species and their habitats in Alaska. Student research projects typically address one small aspect of the greater mosaic of research conducted by the FBEP group. For example, the group has extensive experience working with the effects of light, turbidity, prey size and density upon the foraging behavior and success of planktivores. Therefore, a student project could examine zooplankton escape behavior and whether it becomes more effective under low light or high turbidity, as planktivore vision and ability to pursue prey is degraded. 

Another area of research with excellent opportunities for interns deals with the habitat ecology and behavior of juvenile flatfishes. Recent work by Ryer (and a 2003 intern), demonstrate that many species of juvenile flatfish prefer habitats with emergent structure, such as shell, algae, vegetation, invertebrates and sand waves. As part of a larger field and laboratory program working out of Kodiak Island Alaska and Newport Oregon, there is opportunity for interns to conduct experiments in large scale aquaria and arenas to address issues of habitat utilization by juvenile flatfish. Specific questions that can be addressed include effects of food distribution and predation risk upon patterns of habitat utilization. Although this research has a strong laboratory focus, there is opportunity for associated field study on the Yaquina Estuary. Most importantly, within the conceptual framework of this project, there is ample room for a motivated intern to conduct additional experimentation on related topics of individual interest. The successful applicant will be part of a close-knit research team that includes staff researchers, OSU graduate students and other interns. For more information and detailed description of past intern projects, go to


Su Sponaugle*
Professor (OSU Department of Integrative Biology)
Marine Fish Ecology

Under the direction of Su Sponaugle and Bob Cowen, the Plankton Ecology Lab is dedicated to studying the underlying physical and biological dynamics shaping planktonic distributions, especially those of larval fishes and their zooplankton prey. Plankton patchiness, the uneven spatial and temporal distribution of organisms in the ocean significantly influences the growth and survival of fish larvae. The lab utilizes state of the art technologies as well as traditional techniques to study plankton distributions and dynamics. See for more information.

Intern projects may include:

  • Participation in a major oceanographic cruise to sample the mesozooplankton and larval fish communities of the California Current.
  • Assisting with field deployment of SMURFs (Standardized Monitoring Units for the Recruitment of Fishes) along the coast of Oregon to sample fishes settling to nearshore rocky reefs as well as collection of new recruits to tidepools. This is part of an ongoing collaborative monitoring effort with ODFW to better understand population replenishment of nearshore fish inside and outside of marine reserves.
  • Analysis of newly settled coastal Oregon fishes including taxonomic identification, length measurements, otolith (ear stone) dissections to obtain estimated of age and growth rates, and possible gut contents analysis.


Leigh Torres*
Assistant Professor - Marine Mammal Institute
Marine Ecology

Leigh is a marine ecologist interested in understanding how marine animals, including marine mammals, seabirds and sharks, use their environment in the context of behavior, space and time. Leigh’s research explores how marine predators find prey within highly patchy, variable marine ecosystems. Much of this work is directed toward improving conservation management of protected or threatened species. Leigh’s work spans multiple spatial and temporal scales and occurs in many ecosystems including estuaries of Florida, near and offshore waters of the US and Latin America, pelagic regions of the Southern Ocean, and sub-Antarctic islands and coastal waters of New Zealand.

Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna (GEMM) Laboratory

Interns will be need strong GIS and spatial analysis skills to assist with projects such as seabird track analysis or vessel and whale distribution analysis.


Will White*

Assistant Professor (Fisheries & Wildlife) - Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES)

Dr. White is a nearshore fisheries oceanographer who specializes in using quantitative, mathematical approaches to topics in marine ecology and fisheries. The overall goal of the lab is to investigate factors affecting the population dynamics of marine fisheries across spatial scales. Consequently we work on topics ranging from small scales, focused on individual behavioral decisions (e.g., how do predators choose patches of prey?), to large scales, dealing with the influence of larval dispersal, oceanographic conditions, and fishery management strategies on source-sink dynamics, fishery productivity, and the design of marine protected areas.

Potential topics for REU projects in summer 2018 include:

  • Analysis of long-term fisheries datasets (oysters, salmon) to detect effects of environmental disturbances
  • Assist with development of software packages for analysis of fish populations inside marine reserves
  • Assist with analysis of a global database of marine reserve effects on fished populations

As one can tell from the list, a prior experience or very strong interest in math, statistics, and/or programming is important. REU students will be taught how to use either the R or Matlab programming languages (depending on the project), both of which are widely used in scientific applications.