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. This site has a details on researchers located at the main Oregon State University (OSU) campus with the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospherics Sciences (CEOAS).
While students work independently with their research mentors, there are numerous opportunities (orientation, weekly seminars, group field trips, social events) to interact with other scientists and students at the HMSC in Newport and in CEOAS and other departments on the Corvallis campus.
HMSC Mentors - *= accepting 2020 intern applicants (updated: 12/20/19)
|Mentor Name||Area of Interest|
|Scott Baker*||Cetacean biology and conservation genetics|
|Michael Banks*||Population biology and genetics|
|Susanne Brander*||Toxicology, endocrinology and ecology|
|John Chapman*||Marine biological invasion ecology|
|Robert Cowen*||Fisheries oceanography|
|Ted DeWitt||Estuarine ecology|
|Brett Dumbauld*||Shellfish aquaculture ecology|
|Robert Dziak||Marine geophysics, ocean engineering and acoustics|
|Joe Haxel||Ocean acoustics|
|Matt Hawkyard*||Early life history, genetics, aquaculture|
|Sarah Henkel*||Benthic ecology|
|Scott Heppell*||Fisheries and wildlife|
|Tom Hurst*||Physiological ecology|
|Chris Langdon||Early life history, genetics, aquaculture|
|Ben Laurel||Fisheries biology|
|Ryan Mueller*||Microbial ecology|
|Jessica A. Miller||Ecology|
|Kathleen O'Malley*||Fisheries genetics and genomics|
|Fiona Tomas Nash*||Coastal community ecology and conservation|
|Daniel M. Palacios*||Whale tracking, data analytics|
|Steve Rumrill*||Shellfish, fisheries monitoring|
|Shawn Rowe||Free choice learning|
|Carla Schubiger*||Aquatic microbiology, aquaculture pathogens, seafood safety|
|Su Sponaugle*||Marine fish ecology|
|Leigh Torres*||Marine ecology|
|Will White||Nearshore fisheries oceanography|
Professor and Associate Director of 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:
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. See details here. 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 recognized primarily by genetic characters and the first new species of cetaceans in 15 years.
Michael Banks' program centers on the application of population genetic and genomic principles 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 applying 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, respond to environmental variability, etc.
Projects in Banks' lab are diverse and include the following:
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.
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 HMSC 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 mud shrimp hosts to estimate per gram energetic costs of this new parasite to its hosts. The student is a 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.
Intern Projects: A strong science background is necessary for an REU intern 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.
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 influence the growth and survival of fish larvae. Read how the lab utilizes state of the art technologies as well as traditional techniques to study plankton distributions and dynamics.
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.
Two major research projects 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.
Intern Projects: 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.
Marine Geophysics, Ocean Engineering and Acoustics
The Acoustic Monitoring Project, managed by Bob Dziak, is a joint venture between OSU 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.
Intern Projects: 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.
Assistant Professor, Hatfield Marine Science Center
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.
Intern Projects: Projects for interns to undertake in the Acoustic Program cover a diverse range of biological, natural and anthropogenic acoustic themes including:
Matt Hawkyard’s research focuses on 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 improving the 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:
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 seafloor 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.
Intern Projects: Project for the intern: Investigating potential changes in the caloric density of important prey species (shrimp) associated with the warm blob/El Nino.
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.
Intern Projects: Depending on qualifications and interest, interns might develop a project from several aspects of a current study comparing juvenile rockfish 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, aging 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 is a research fisheries biologist with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program. Tom's research interests focus on 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 and members of her lab are interested in the ecology of host-parasite interactions. Kym is a 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.
Intern Projects: Potential projects for an intern are examining any life stage of a parasite in freshwater, estuarine or marine habitat.
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.
Intern Projects: REU interns working in Chris's lab are exposed to many of these research topics and will learn about practical “hands-on” aspects of aquaculture.
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.
Intern Projects: Using fish recently collected from the Arctic, potential REU intern projects could involve live animal experiments to determine how varying species respond to scenarios of climate change.
Jessica A. Miller
Associate Professor (COMES)
Jessica Miller is interested in the ecology and evolution of life-history diversity in fishes and the development and maintenance of that diversity. Her research focuses on dispersal and transport, population connectivity, and migratory behavior of marine and anadromous fishes. For example, she is interested in how juvenile salmon use coastal watersheds and how management and restoration activities affect those patterns. She combines techniques, including otolith microchemistry, genetic, and time-series analyses, to provide novel information on these topics. Currently, Jessica is 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.
Intern Projects: REU intern 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.
Microbes inhabit all corners of the biosphere and are responsible for some of the most important processes in these ecosystems. For instance, by turning vast amounts of organic carbon into CO2 and methane, microbes have huge impacts on global carbon cycles and climate processes. Additionally, the microbiomes of animals and plants can greatly affect the health and well-being of these hosts and how they respond to environmental change. Research in Ryan Mueller's lab explores the role of microbial communities in these processes.
Intern Projects: REU projects may include studying the role of specific microbial populations in marine biogeochemical cycles, symbioses between prokaryotes and seagrasses, and how probiotic and pathogenic bacteria impact the health and growth of oyster larvae used in aquaculture.
Kathleen O'Malley is the State Fisheries Geneticist at the State Fisheries Genomics Lab. It is housed within the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station. Kathleen's lab conducts fisheries genetics research used by the scientific and management communities and concentrates on species of ecological, evolutionary and economic importance. Her 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 the changing climate, and species or sex identification.
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
Fiona Tomas Nash's lab works 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 primarily on seagrasses and macroalgae since they provide critical habitat for many species and perform key ecological functions at the land-sea interface. The Nash lab combines field, mesocosm and laboratory work to understand the ecological consequences of different human impacts (pollution, climate change and invasive species) on ecosystem health. Fiona is 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.
Intern Projects: Summer research projects will be co-supervised by Fiona Tomas Nash and Ryan Mueller and will focus on how stressors (e.g. pollutants, warming) affect seagrass health, its susceptibility to disease, and the role of microbes on driving disease susceptibility.
Ecologist Daniel Palacios's primary interest is 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.
Intern Projects: 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.
Steven S. Rumrill is the Leader of the ODFW Shellfish Program. This multi-faceted program encompasses resource assessment activities, fishery monitoring, scientific research, outreach and management for a diverse group of shellfish that inhabit Oregon’s bays and estuaries, sandy beaches, rocky shores, sub-tidal reefs, and deeper water habitats. The Shellfish Program manages the recreational and commercial harvest of many different types of shellfish including crab, shrimp, bay clams, razor clams, mussels, scallops, abalone, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and others.
Associate Professor (College of Education)
Free Choice Learning
As a Marine Education Learning Specialist, Shawn Rowe researches free-choice learning. This is the kind of learning people do outside classrooms and other formal education settings. He uses the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center as a Free Choice Learning Laboratory to study learning behavior. Shawn has a background in applied linguistics (studying how people learn a language) and developmental psychology in education.
Carla Schubiger's lab at Hatfield studies aquatic bacteria as disease agents in aquatic animals but also as beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in aquaculture production, such as oysters, shrimp and finfish, and seafood safety.
Intern Projects: Summer projects available include for example isolation and testing of probiotics used against shellfish disease agents, investigations into the shellfish immune response, and evaluation of (marine) insects as aquatic feeds.
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 influence the growth and survival of fish larvae. The lab uses state of the art technologies as well as traditional techniques to study plankton distributions and dynamics. Learn more information about the lab here.
Leigh Torres 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
Intern Projects: Interns will need strong skills in GIS and spatial analysis to assist with projects such as seabird track analysis or vessel and whale distribution analysis.
Will White is a nearshore fisheries oceanographer who specializes in using quantitative, mathematical approaches to topics in marine ecology and fisheries. The overall goal of his lab is to investigate factors affecting the population dynamics of marine fisheries across spatial scales. Consequently, work ranges on topics from small scales focusing on individual behavioral decisions (e.g., how 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.
Prior experience or very strong interest in math, statistics, and 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.