Undergraduates  * Post Graduate * Graduate Students * Postdocs


Each summer OSU undergraduates join us to monitor reproductive success and diet of common murres, Brandt’s cormorants, pelagic cormorants, and western gulls at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport Oregon. These positions are advertised through the URSA Engage Program and the College of Agricultural Sciences Beginning Researcher Support Program in order to provide interns a measure of financial support. If you are enthusiastic about applying be mindful of the deadlines for each program. Also check out the resources at Hatfield Marine Science Center for additional support for housing and other internships.

Post Baccalaureate Internships

In collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area the Seabird Oceanography Lab supports an Environment for the Americas (EFTA) post graduate research and science communication internship.  Each year the EFTA intern assists BLM with educational programming typically providing education programs in Spanish and English. The EFTA intern is a key part of the seabird monitoring effort at Yaquina Head and takes the lead on monitoring cormorants and assists with monitoring of common murres, behavioral watches, diet observation, and assists with project summaries and communication.

Thesis Based Graduate Students

Any graduate opportunities or positions that are part of grants awarded to Dr. Orben will be advertised to ensure that a diverse applicant pool is considered.

We accept MS (and PhD) students through the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences. More information about the graduate program can be found here. Note that admission into the PhD program requires an MS or substantial evidence of MS level science, and a strong funding plan. Finding adequate funding is a substantial challenge and we need a solid funding plan in order to begin the admissions process.

If you are working with non-academic collaborators to submit a funding proposal that includes support for your graduate work, please reach out to Dr. Orben as a potential collaborator during the proposal writing stage (include the below information about yourself). If we (you, me, collaborators) decide that we (SOL, FWCS, & OSU) are a good fit for your graduate education then we will work closely together to include support for you in the proposal budget. This is roughly $40,000/year before indirect costs.

Unfortunately, I am not able to invest time reviewing fellowship proposals of everyone interested in joining the lab. I do appreciate knowing who you are and what research you are proposing as part of your fellowship applications, so please get in touch (guidelines below). I have also provided a list of potential projects below.

Please get in touch! I do read every email I receive, but I am not able to reply to everyone.

Please combine items 2-4 into a single PDF file. The request below is in addition to a formal application to the OSU Graduate School. It is not necessary (or useful) to apply until we are confident that you will be attending OSU.

  1. A short e-mail cover letter that introduces yourself, briefly describes a proposed graduate research project and your research interests, and outlines your career goals including why graduate school is the next step for you
  2. A complete resume or curriculum vitae that includes your undergraduate GPA
  3. A sample of your writing. This could be a term paper or project report; something you feel represents your writing ability
  4. A statement of what scholarships, fellowships, or other funding opportunities you are pursuing (NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, CIMRS First-year Marine Studies Start-out Graduate Research Assistant (2021-2022), North Pacific Research Board Graduate Fellowship etc.)
Current Potential Projects

This list of potential projects is kept up-to-date and is meant to encourage synergy with currently funded projects and available languishing datasets. Datasets from previously published papers can also be recycled to address new questions (e.g. Orben et al. 2015, Orben et al. 2018, Fleishman et al. 2019, Drummand et al. 2021, Orben et al. in prep). Additional projects that are related to the research of the of the Seabird Oceanography Lab with outside collaborators are also welcome. Students with fellowship support are encouraged to develop at least one thesis chapter with data that is already collected and available through SOL or other collaborators. This reduces the need to find additional funds to support research efforts and allows incoming graduate students to start working with data as soon as possible.   

  1. Foraging ecology of cormorants in relationship to oceanographic features (Cormorant Oceanography Project).
  2. Acoustic monitoring of Leach’s storm petrels: annual changes and phenology.
  3. Albatross-fisheries interactions.
  4. Comparison of at-sea seabird observations and tracking data along the Oregon coast: Habitat models and predictions.

I expect graduate students to be independent, creative, and willing to learn new skills (e.g. coding, statistics, proficiency in reproducible research techniques). Gaining proficiency in R prior to graduate school is highly advantageous. I also expect a willingness to embrace the writing process starting at the very beginning of your time in graduate school.

Publishing manuscripts from your thesis is important for your study system, the birds that we all care about, your career, and the Seabird Oceanography Lab. Therefore, I expect you to publish all of your thesis chapters (with the goal of submitting at least one manuscript before your defense). I expect that your research will be conducted in the spirit of reproducible research and code and data will also be published. I believe that a successful master’s thesis can be 1 or 2 publishable chapters and a PhD thesis should be comprised of 3 publishable chapters. I learned much about how the publishing process works from being a co-author on manuscripts. Ideally graduate students will also have the opportunity to be a co-author on a manuscript during their time with the Seabird Oceanography Lab.

Graduate Certificate in Fisheries or Wildlife Management

If you are interested in collaborating with the Seabird Oceanography Lab on your capstone project, please follow the guidelines for graduate students and send 1) an email introduction, 2) your CV, and 3) a writing sample. Capstone Projects are synthesis papers or outreach products that are developed with a mentor from campus, a natural resource agency, or the student’s place of employment. Make sure to include your specific areas of interest and goals for your capstone project and how they link to current or past Seabird Oceanography Lab research. The graduate certificate program is self-funded. I have a dataset of red-legged kittiwakes that have molecular sex and morphometric data. This could be a data analysis capstone project for someone with statistical skill and experience working in R. This paper would be a good example of what the project would look like.  Alternatively, I would be interested in a student undertaking a review of the use of artificial nests for seabirds and the influence on reproductive success. 

Professional Science Master's degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration (PSMFWA)

If you are interested in a Professional Science Master’s degree and are looking for a major professor, please follow the guidelines for graduate students and send 1) an email introduction, 2) your CV, and 3) a writing sample. Make sure to include a description of your potential or ideal capstone project and your timeline for entering and completing the program. Your “white-paper” project should be the equivalent to a one-chapter MS, but with less complexity and uncertainty than a thesis-based MS (e.g. may not include data collection). Since this is a self-funded MS, please also include a short statement that you understand the cost of the degree. I will likely only advise 1-2 PSMFWA students at a time. Any current PSMFWAs are listed on the website along with their expected enrollment period.


Applicants interested in the fine-scale foraging ecology of cormorants in relationship to oceanographic features are especially encouraged to apply for the NSF-Oceanography Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Please be in touch with your project ideas along with potential funding opportunities and a timeline. I expect that you would lead proposal writing, but I will provide substantial guidance if we decide we would like to try to work together. Initiating a conversation about a proposal should happen at least three months in advance of the grant submission deadline, but if you have a well formulated idea a shorter timeline may be possible.