REU Project Mentors and Research Areas

University faculty and agency scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) and Port Orford Field Station 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. Mentors accepting 2024 Summer REU interns noted with an asterisk symbol next to their name (*). Be sure to list the faculty mentors and projects that interest you on your application.

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 other departments on the Corvallis campus.

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

REU Mentors at HMSC

(Mentors with an * accepting Interns in 2024 - updated 1/19/24)

Mentor Name Area of Interest
Scott Baker Cetacean biology and conservation genetics
Michael Banks* Population biology and genetics
Cheryl Barnes* Marine resource management, ecosystem-based fisheries management
Dawn Barlow Animal behavior and spatial ecology
Susanne Brander* Toxicology, endocrinology and ecology
Bernarda Calla* Shellfish genomics
Tom Calvanese* Kelp forest restoration ecology
John Chapman Marine biological invasion ecology
Taylor Chapple Sharks, marine predators, animal movements, bio-logging and energetics
Robert Cowen Fisheries oceanography
Brett Dumbauld Shellfish aquaculture ecology
Robert Dziak Marine geophysics, ocean engineering and acoustics
Ford Evans* Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
Jessica Garwood Ocean sampling and numerical modeling
Sarah Henkel* Benthic ecology
Scott Heppell* Fisheries and wildlife
Tom Hurst* Physiological ecology
Kym Jacobson Zoology
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
Rachael Orben* Marine predator foraging ecology, species–habitat relationships, food web dynamics, marine spatial planning, seabirds
Daniel M. Palacios Whale tracking, data analytics
Steve Rumrill Shellfish, fisheries monitoring
Shawn Rowe Free choice learning
Su Sponaugle* Marine fish ecology
Kate Stafford* Bioacoustics
Fiona Tomas Nash Coastal community ecology and conservation
Leigh Torres* Marine ecology/Gray whale foraging ecology
Meagan Wengrove Coastal morphodynamics and civil and construction engineering
Will White* Nearshore fisheries oceanography



Scott Baker
Scott Baker
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:

  • 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. 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
Michael Banks*
Associate Professor
Population Biology and Genetics

The Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Stations (COMES) Marine Fisheries Genomics, Conservation and Behavior Lab focuses on developing skills and tools to enhance vital futures for fish, the environment and its people.

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

  • Applying wild-like mating strategies in salmon hatcheries
  • Resolving mechanisms for ocean navigation
  • Climate effects on fisheries behavior and bycatch
  • Preserving life-history diversity among salmon at far range extremes where they live
  • Detecting latent (hidden) viruses among aquaculture oysters
  • Resolving range expansion of salmon in the Northern and Southern hemisphere owing to climate change
  • VALUE TAGGER Innovations to sample salmon stocks by the 1,000s at places where they occur on mass such as at hatcheries, large capture vessels or in lcoal and international processing/marketing facilities.

Intern Projects:  (1) Working in the HMSC Innovation Lab to advance innovations to enable efficient sampling of fin-snips from salmon in association with other sampling needs (for example, coded wire tag detection and extraction, image capture to determine other traits using AI). (2) Working with research partners to use computer vision and deep learning (AI) to determine species, sex, length, weight and condition of samples. 

Dawn Barlow
Dawn Barlow
Postdoctoral Fellow - Marine Mammal Institute
Animal behavior and spatial ecology

Dawn Barlow is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Marine Mammal Institute's Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Lab. Dawn’s research interests are in the ecology and conservation of marine mammals. In particular, she studies what drives when and where whales can be found and how their distribution overlaps with human activities, using tools such as spatial statistics, bioacoustics, and oceanography.

Intern Projects:  Identify sei whale vocalizations in acoustic recordings collected off Oregon to document occurrence patterns (Mentors: Dawn Barlow, Leigh Torres)

Marine mammals rely on sound for communication, navigation, feeding, and reproduction. Therefore, an effective way to study these animals that live in areas often inaccessible to humans is through listening to their vocalizations, known as passive acoustic monitoring. We are seeking a motivated and detail-oriented student to identify sei whale calls in acoustic recordings collected off Oregon. Sei whales are rarely observed and often misidentified during boat-based surveys. We will therefore compare acoustic detections to visual sighting records to examine how often this endangered marine mammal may be present in Oregon waters but go undetected.


Cheryl Barnes*
Assistant Professor
Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Sciences
Marine resource management and ecosystem-based fisheries management

The Integrative Marine Fisheries Lab conducts scientific research to answer management-relevant questions. Much of our work focuses on better understanding population and community dynamics of groundfish species in the North Pacific. To do so, we rely on a combination of field sampling, lab-based research, and statistical modeling techniques. We also place considerable value on collaborating with academic and agency scientists, resource managers, and fishery stakeholders because of its benefit to both process and product. 

Intern Projects:  We have opportunities for students to get involved in field and/or lab-based work to understand spatial variation in life history traits of black rockfish (from California to Alaska). Research activities will promote the development of technical skills that are commonly used in marine fisheries science. These may involve portside sampling, at sea surveys, fish dissections, ageing otoloiths, assessing maturity, estimating fecundity, data recording/entry, database management, and/or statistical analyses.


Susanne Brander
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.

Intern Projects: Accepting 1-2 interns to work on projects related to microplastic or microfiber exposure in living organisms (fish or invertebrates at early life stages), or to perform extractions from environmental samples that may contain microplastics, such as marine birds' nests or fish tissue. 
Bernarda Calla

Bernarda Calla*
Courtesy Appointment - Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, USDA-ARS Pacific Shellfish Breeding Center
Marine Molecular Geneticist

An ARS-USDA lab in the newly formed Pacific Shellfish Research Unit we are working on the genomics of oysters. Two main lines of research are reproduction and fecundity in Pacific oysters and oyster response to biotic and abiotic environmental stressors 

Intern Projects: Potential research projects include testing the response of Pacific oysters to toxins from algae and quantifying gene expression of sex-determination and fertility related genes. 



Tom Calvanese*
Port Orford Field Station Manager/Oregon Kelp Alliance
Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve and Kelp Forest Restoration Ecology

The Port Orford Field Station supports a variety of research areas in partnership with the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Areas of research include: gray whale foraging, juvenile fish recruitment in the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve, sea urchin and dulse co-culture and kelp forest restoration ecology through the Oregon Kelp Alliance (ORKA). 

Intern Projects: Possible projects include sampling associated with juvenile recruitment at Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve, sea urchin and dulse co-culture, and kelp forest restoration ecology. Students interested or have experience in snorkeling, free diving, SCUBA training (AAUS preferred), handling fish samples, lab work and small vessel experience.


John Chapman
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 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 meeting.

Taylor Chapple
Taylor Chapple
Assistant Professor 
Behavior and Physiology of Marine Predators

Taylor’s research has primarily focused on large marine predators, most notably sharks. His background is in population modeling of difficult to assess species, though more recently he is focused on using technology (biologging and telemetry tags, etc.) to understand the movements and behavior of marine animals and their life history and ecosystem consequences. Taylor is also committed to bridging the gap between science and the public through outreach and education.

Intern Project: The Big Fish Lab uses a mix of techniques to understand the movements, energetics, foraging ecology, and behavior of large predatory fish. Possible projects would build on our research into shark stress physiology/behavior and the ecological impact of sharks in Oregon. REU interns could conduct a semi-independent research project to help determine behavioral parameters indicative of a shark stress response. This project will utilize machine-learning video data analysis tools to quantify shark behavior in an experimental setting. There may be additional opportunities for interns to gain field experience assisting as needed/desired on our research into Sevengill and Salmon shark movements and foraging ecology.


Bob Cowen
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 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.

Intern Projects:

  • 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 the 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.


Brett Dumbauld
Brett Dumbauld
Courtesy Associate Professor
Shellfish Aquaculture Ecology

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.

Robert Dziak
Robert Dziak
Marine Geophysics, Ocean Engineering and Acoustics

I lead an underwater passive acoustics research and engineering program within the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory on the Hatfield campus in Newport. The goal of our program is to quantify the deep-ocean and coastal underwater sound environment. To accomplish this, our researchers develop tools, technologies, and data analysis expertise to study natural and anthropogenic sound sources and their impact on the marine environment. Our group has built a stable of novel ocean technologies, including autonomous stationary hydrophones, mobile platforms, and near-real-time surface buoys with satellite communications. We also have monitoring systems in every major ocean basin on Earth, working toward efficient monitoring of large ocean areas for extended time periods.

Intern Projects: We have a wide range of internship projects that involve analysis of underwater passive acoustic data for evaluation of 1) anthropogenic sound levels due to ship traffic and offshore renewable energy devices, 2) marine mammal calls to observe their seasonal variability and population distributions, 3) geophysical sound sources to understand seafloor volcano and earthquake processes, and 4) cryogenic sounds to assess Antarctic ice shelf instability given their potential impact on global sea levels.


Ford Evans
Ford Evans*
Research Associate, Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station - Newport
Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture

Ford Evans is currently working on three research projects focusing on sustainable aquaculture of shellfish and seaweed in the Pacific Northwest.  These projects include: 1) developing novel approaches to intensify land-based production of high value seaweeds, including Palmaria mollis and Gracilaria sp; 2) monitoring the prevalence and pathogenesis of Ostreid herpesvirus (OsHV-1) in juvenile pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) at commercial growing grounds along the US West Coast; and 3) working with partners in Port Orford, Bandon and Newport, to examine the feasibility of co-culturing  Pacific dulse (D. mollis) and Purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) to increase gonad quantity and quality in land-based tanks.

Intern Projects: We are interested in REU interns participating in two research projects:

  • Purple sea urchin/Pacific dulse co-culture. This project will evaluate different co-culture methods to optimize uni (gonad) enhancement, urchin survival, and water quality.
  • Intensification of seaweed aquaculture. This project will develop and refine culture techniques of Gracilaria sp in novel land-based culture systems.


Jessica Garwood
Jessica Garwood
Assistant Professor, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
Small-scale physical-biological interactions in the ocean

Jessica Garwood is an oceanographer interested in understanding how interactions between the physics of the ocean and swimming behavior determine plankton growth, transport, and survival. In her quest, Jessica works with engineers to develop new instruments to sample the ocean, including robotic plankton, and supplements these observations with numerical models.

Intern Projects:

- Development of platform prototypes to collect new ocean observations in partnership with the Innovation Lab at the Hatfield Marine Science Center

- Analysis of modeled plankton transport pathways and other coastal oceanographic data using Python or Matlab


Sarah Henkel*
Associate Professor, Hatfield Marine Science Center
Benthic Ecology

Sarah Henkel’s research interests include species distributions, trophic ecology, and human impacts on seabed communities. Sarah works with the Pacific Marine Renewable Energy Center examining the ecological effects of marine renewable (wave & wind) energy development. Work in Sarah's lab includes community surveys of offshore sedimentary habits, the rocky intertidal, and fouling comunities on hard structures as well as targeted lab experiments.

2024 project(s): (1) calorimetry of marine invertebrates: Tasks include sorting invertebrates from box core collections, using a calorimeter, analyzing results.  (2) Comparing burrowing structure of offshore and estuarine ghost shrimp (Neotrypaea). Tasks include: collecting ghost shrimp from estuary, maintaining shrimp tanks, making and measuring resin casts of burrows. (3) Hypoxia experiments on ghost shrimp. Tasks include collecting ghost shrimp from estuary, maintaining shrimp in tanks, measuring growth/survival of shrimp.


Scott Heppell
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.

Intern Projects: This summer we’ll be initiating a new research program to evaluate how estuary restoration efforts work toward rebuilding natural fish and invertebrate communities. This project will involve capturing and collecting species 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 and some work on boats. Having general field or laboratory skills is a bonus but not necessary; interns will receive project-specific training.


Tom Hurst
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 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, Arctic cod, northern rock sole and yellowfin sole.

Intern Projects: 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. The selected intern will take primary responsibility for an aspect of this broad research initiative.


Kym Jacobson
Research Zoologist
NOAA Fisheries

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.


Chris Langdon
Chris Langdon
Early Life History, Genetics, Aquaculture

The HMSC OSU Aquaculture Lab focuses on a wide range of topics, including oyster breeding and genetics, seaweed culture and the development of probiotic treatments for oyster larvae.

Intern Projects: The focus of this REU project will be examining the effects of ocean acidification and marine microplastics on the performance of oyster larvae and subsequent developmental stages.



Ben Laurel
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.  

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.


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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 projects would involve understanding environmental effects (e.g., temperature, prey, pH) on the early growth and survival of marine fishes. Interns would quantify the growth rates of larval fish raised under ocean acidification conditions in the laboratory or early growth rates of juvenile Pacific Cod collected from the Alaskan ecosystem. By comparing the growth of fish under stressful environmental conditions the interns will contribute to understanding how climate change poses a risk to marine ecosystems and the potential resilience of fish populations to these changes.


Ryan Mueller, professor at Oregon State University
Ryan Mueller  
Associate Professor
Microbial Ecology

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.


Rachael Orben
Rachael Orben*
Assistant Professor (Fisheries & Wildlife)
Marine Mammal Institute Affiliate Faculty

Rachael Orben is a marine ecologist with a background in field biology, biologging, and oceanography. She is interested in how individual marine animals interact with their environment through movement. She is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Seabird Oceanography Lab. The lab tackles research projects that range from long-term monitoring of seabirds at Yaquina Head, advancing monitoring methods for burrow nesting seabirds, developing biologging tags to measure oceanographic conditions, counting albatrosses from satellite imagery, and albatross-fisheries interactions.

Intern Projects: We are looking for an intern who is interested in a mix of field work and data processing and analysis. The REU Intern will assist with field work as part of the long-term monitoring of seabirds at Yaquina Head. This work requires early mornings and involves following nests of cormorants and murres from egg lay to chick fledging. The intern project will be based on photos taken of murres carrying fish to feed their chicks. We are interested in understanding differences in diet between colonies in Oregon. The project will involve determining prey ID from photos and R coding for data analysis. 



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

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.



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

Daniel Palacios leads the Marine Mammal Institute’s Whale Habitat, Ecology, & Telemetry Laboratory (WHET Lab). The WHET Lab focuses on the development, advancement, and application of electronic tag technologies for studying whales. We use telemetry and bio-logging as tools to improve our understanding of foraging ecology, migration and movement patterns, species-habitat associations, population dynamics, and ecosystem and trophic interactions.

Intern Projects: We are looking for a motivated and creative intern to examine the habitat selection and movement patterns of false killer whales in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The intern will be co-supervised by Daniel Palacios and PhD student Michaela Kratofil, and will also collaborate with biologists at Cascadia Research Collective who curated the dataset and lead long-term studies on false killer whales in Hawaiʻi. This project will involve the analysis of an existing satellite tag dataset and remotely sensed environmental datasets, and overall development of the status of knowledge on this population of false killer whales. This project will not involve fieldwork in Hawaiʻi, although there may be opportunities to participate in ongoing fieldwork separate from this project (i.e., in Oregon).


Steven Rumrill

Steven Rumrill
Shellfish Program Leader, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Adjunct Professor, Marine Resources Management

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.

Intern Projects:

  • Experimental enhancement of native Olympia oyster populations in Oregon bays and estuaries
  • Characterization of estuarine habitats, shellfish communities, and development of stock assessments for bay clams
  • Measurement of annual variability in the population structure and abundance of razor clams along Oregon’s sandy beaches
  • Development of sampling protocols, monitoring methods, and metrics to characterize recreational harvest of mussels from Oregon’s rocky shores
  • Extent, magnitude, and ecological impact of infestation of bivalves, mussels, and oysters by non-native mud blister worms


Shawn Rowe
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.




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

OSU's Plankton Ecology Laboratory conducts basic and applied research on the ecology of the early stages of marine fishes and invertebrates. Most marine fishes produce small larvae that spend weeks to months in the plankton before they recruit to the adult population. The small size of larvae coupled with the vast and complex ocean makes it challenging to understand the events the influence larval growth and survival. We use an array of new sampling technologies to investigate growth, survival, and dispersal of young fishes in the plankton. A majority of our research occurs in the coastal ocean, but this year we are beginning a collaborative project in an array of freshwater bodies.

Intern Projects: A REU project could range from dissecting larval fishes for otoliths and using those to measure age and growth of larvae, to analyzing the spatial distribution of larval fishes and their prey offshore. Projects will involve learning a diverse set of research tools used to study larval fishes and their plankton prey and predators. 


Kate Stafford

Kate Stafford*
Associate Professor – Marine Mammal Institute

The Marine Mammal Bioacoustics and Ecology Lab uses passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) to study the underwater soundscape (think acoustic landscape) around the globe. Eavesdropping underwater provides information on when and where vocally active marine animals occur, what they are doing, and the presence of anthropogenic (human-caused) threats that may impact feeding, migration, and communication behavior.

Intern Projects: Analyzing passive acoustic data from offshore of Oregon to help with a wind energy project; detecting and classifying bowhead whale calls for a call repertoire study; develop a training data set of whale calls for an artificial intelligence project; determine detection distances of whale signals in the Pacific Arctic; develop time series of walrus detections from the Chukchi Sea. 


Fiona NashFiona 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.


Leigh TorresLeigh Torres*
Associate Professor - Marine Mammal Institute
Marine Ecology/Gray Whale Foraging Ecology

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 and projects

Intern Projects: Accepting three interns for the following potential projects where students will gain experience in data management, photo-identification and photographic analysis, R coding, data collection, field skills, science communication and generally learn about the management of human activities and marine mammal interactions. 

  • Synthesis of Acoustics, Physiology, Prey, and Habitat in a Rapidly changing Environment (SAPPHIRE) project - The goal of SAPPHIRE is to identify and describe the impacts of environmental variation on the physiology of a crucial marine prey species (krill) and its predator, the blue whale. We are conducting our first field season researching blue whales in New Zealand in February 2024, where we will collect photographic data of blue whales for individual identification and pair these data with photogrammetry measurements from drone imagery to calculate body condition and length. 
  • Gray whale Response to Ambient Noise Informed by Technology and Ecology (GRANITE) project - The goal of GRANITE is to study gray whales feeding in Oregon waters; we are seeking a motivated student to conduct a scarring analysis and skin condition assessment on gray whales photographed off the coast of Oregon and contribute to assessing rates of entanglements, boat strikes, and orca attacks using statistical models. The student will gain experience in data management, learn how to perform photo-identification and photographic analysis, and generally learn about the management of human activities and marine mammal interactions. 
  • GRANITE project at Port Orford Field Station - This intern will split their time between the Hatfield campus in Newport (first 4 weeks of program) and the OSU Port Orford Field Station on the Oregon south coast (next 6 weeks). While at Hatfield the intern will analyze eight years of gray whale sightings data derived from the GRANITE project to assess patterns in social behaviors relative to individual, sex, age, body condition, location, and timing. While at the Port Orford Field Station the intern will participate in the 10th year of our integrated TOPAZ/JASPER program, which is an exciting hands-on experiential learning internship where a 5 person field team collects data on gray whale foraging ecology and zooplankton availability. We are seeking a motivated, enthusiastic, collaborative student to join our team for the summer. The intern will gain knowledge on gray whale ecology and behavior, data management, R coding, data collection and field skills, and science communication.


Meagan Wengrove

Meagan Wengrove
Assistant Professor – Civil & Construction Engineering

The Coastal Boundary Dynamics Research Group focus is on three areas:

  • Coastal Engineering with Nature
  • Boundary Layers and Morphodynamics
  • Sensing the Ocean with Fiber Optics

We perform lab and field experiments focused on physical processes within the coastal zone to help inform communities about changing coastal stressors now and into the future.

Intern Projects: Potential summer REU intern projects: Design and build an imaging system for measuring roughness change sandy bedforms in the air and underwater. There will be a laboratory focus on building and field testing in Newport, OR.


Will WhiteWill White*
Assistant Professor (Fisheries & Wildlife)
Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES)

Our lab group uses mathematical models and computer simulations to understand and predict how marine fish and invertebrate populations will respond to climate change and human management. Potential projects are related to modeling the adaptive management of fish populations in marine protected areas - how do they respond to disturbances like marine heatwaves, and how should management adjust accordingly? 

Intern Projects:

  • We are conducting a global analysis of the effect of marine reserves on fish populations. The intern will analyze time series data to characterize global trends over time in the increases (or decreases) of populations in reserves.

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.