Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Application procedure:

The application period for the MBARI 2012 Summer Internship Program is now closed. Applications should include a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, and we would also like you to complete an online form. The cover letter should include a statement of your research interests (with specific mention of one of the following potential projects or areas), relevant coursework and grades, and complete contact details (home and work phone numbers and email address). MBARI is an equal opportunity employer.

Below is a list of some potential projects and mentors (this list will be updated, so please bookmark and check this page from time to time). Clearly identifying a specific research interest/area is an important part of your application and is essential in the application process. Please contact George Matsumoto if you have any questions. I have provided links to the mentors' home pages (if available) so that you can learn more about the various mentors, please DO NOT contact the mentor directly.

Application materials (including letters) can be sent to MBARI via fax (831-775-1620), regular post, or by email. If you opt for an email application, please send your materials directly to .

Jim Bellingham - The Drew Gashler Internship

The Long-Range AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle): The LRAUV is being used to observe the evolution of ocean processes over periods ranging from a week to a month. This intern project would seek to understand results of past AUV missions, develop approaches to displaying and understanding AUV physical/chemical/biological data, and participate in planning and carrying out new AUV operations. Depending on the student aptitudes and interests, activities may include developing sampling strategies for more efficiently observing dynamic ocean processes, testing them in simulation and at sea. This intern project is specifically for students from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

Peter Brewer and Ed Peltzer

Ocean Chemistry: As a summer intern in the Brewer lab you will join a team busily involved in exploring new ways to examine the chemistry of the ocean. We use laser Raman techniques in the deep sea to explore the chemistry of pore waters such as the methane and sulfide signals which change radically if a core is brought to the surface. We examine the changing CO2 chemistry of the ocean, and how the growth of CO2 and decline in O2 will lead to the creation of greatly expanded dead zones, and the many consequences of this. A summer intern will be engaged in a specific aspect of this based upon abilities and experience.

Francisco Chavez

Ocean Biogeochemistry. The chemical content of the upper ocean influences ocean plants and animals and these biota in turn influence ocean chemistry. As a summer intern in the Chavez lab you will be exposed to instruments and methods to measure the chemical content and characteristics (carbon dioxide, nutrients, pH) of ocean waters and how it is influenced by ocean circulation and biological processes (photosynthesis and respiration). A project that combines measurements and analysis of data previously collected will be developed.

Dave Clague, Jenny Paduan, and Julie Martin

Submarine Volcanism: This project works with high-resolution mapping data and ROV dive observations and samples collected to build volcanic histories at our study sites. In spring 2012, we will expand a small study on the northernmost East Pacific Rise to include mapping and sampling an entire ridge segment. Research opportunities for an intern could include processing and refining the mapping AUV 1-m resolution data from the area, combining video observations with the mapping data, specialized geochemical or morphological studies of the lavas collected, or study of sediment cores collected to determine ages of underlying flows. Our long-term goal is to be able to determine the volcanic evolution in space and time of the neovolcanic zone of the entire ridge segment.

Danelle Cline

Automated Visual Event Detection: Our project involves analysis of video and possibly physical data (current direction, temperature and salinity) collected from the deep-ocean camera Eye-in-the-Sea on the ocean observatory MARS . The work may include analysis of behavior or ecology of various benthic groups, including fish, crustaceans, and possibly squid. The intern will be provided with software tools to help with the video analysis, including software developed by the AVED project to help find and classify organisms in the video, and the VARS project for annotating video. Applicants with a background in marine biology are encouraged to apply. See our AVED project web site.

Kim Fulton-Bennett

Science Communication: The intern will work with MBARI's communications staff to develop web articles, web pages, multimedia works, and/or social networking projects designed to communicate MBARI research to the general public. The multimedia works could include text, audio, still images, or video. The intern should have excellent writing skills and a working knowledge of html. Experience with still photography or video a plus. Please include web links or samples of writing for the general public with your application.

Andrew Hamilton and Francois Cazenave

PowerBuoy: The goal of this ongoing project is to design, build, and test a marine buoy that extracts energy from ocean waves to produce electricity. Electricity is produced by an electro-hydraulic system deployed at MBARI. Produced electricity is stored on batteries and used to power devices on the buoy. A prototype has been built and tested in Monterey Bay for short deployments. A charging and data transfer station for an AUV (Autonomous underwater vehicle) is also being developed and will be powered by the buoy. Depending on his or her interests and skills, the intern will assist engineers with various tasks such as data analysis, mechanical design, and tests in the lab and at sea. The intern will also participate in the deployment of the device at sea.

Chad Kecy

Shallow Water FOCE (Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment) Experiment: This project involves the design and development of an underwater pH laboratory to be deployed in the southern Monterey Bay. It is a joint effort between the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) and MBARI and will be deployed out of Hopkins Marine Station. Power and communication will be delivered to the underwater experiment via an electrical tether with shore side equipment housed in a nearby building. Initial work will comprise the power distribution system. The prospective intern will assist with development and testing of the shore side power system as well as work on the medium voltage converter housed in a deployable central node. This would be a good fit for an embedded software engineer as interfacing hardware, as well as code development is needed. Specifically, familiarity with the PIC24 family of microprocessors, programming in C, or LabView would be very useful.

Bill Kirkwood

Development of ground effect elements for an autonomous ocean going vehicle: This intern project is part of a larger effort to address key sub-systems in the early develop of a entirely new platform for science. The effort will include analysis (engineering and cost) and design of ground effect wings. Upon suitable review and down selection the intern will construct and tank testing 2 to 3 candidate wings in a comparative study. The candidate intern must understand the necessary conditions associated with fluids for scalability of designs in their calculations and models. The intern will be communicating with our industrial partner as well as our key collaborator and MBARI adjunct - Professor Kitts of Santa Clara University. As Director of the Robotic Systems Laboratory the intern will be interacting with students at the university who are pursuing other sub-systems. A willingness to work with machine tools and engineering technicians a must. Ultimately the intern will make a report recommending the best potential solution from this work for addressing the sub-system requirements.

George Matsumoto

Intern Logistical Coordinator: This intern will be assisting with the MBARI intern program. This will likely include assisting the interns with travel logistics during the program as well as coordinating some educational activities on the weekends. It is expected that this intern will also be working on his or her own independent research project. The successful applicant will be an alumna/alumnus of the MBARI intern program and will stay in the same housing as the interns. Letters of recommendation are not required, but please elaborate, in your application letter, on your proposed research project for the summer.

Mike McCann

Data Management and Visualization: With growing capabilities to measure the ocean environment we also have a growing need to intelligently manage the data that are collected. This project is concerned with developing tools for long-term institutional management of data collections. Building systems that are sustainable and that interoperate well with other data systems is a primary concern. Well managed data archives and data visualization tools enable scientific understanding and help support good decision making. The intern working on this project will be free to choose the type of data to work with and will be exposed to standards-based systems and software that can be applied to all sorts of data management and visualization problems.

Leslie Rosenfeld

The Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS): The mission of CeNCOOS (see is to integrate marine observations to inform decision makers and the general public. CeNCOOS produces information products to facilitate science-based management decisions affecting the health of the oceans.  Topics of high interest presently include climate change, marine spatial planning, search and rescue, hazardous material spills, harmful algal blooms, coastal inundation, and water quality.  Summer interns are sought to help implement all aspects of the system including marine observations, data management and communications, operational ocean modeling and prediction, marine policy, education and outreach, and product development.  Potential interns could have a scientific, marine policy, educational, or information technology inclination.  The program is highly flexible and we can suggest specific projects which can be completed during the summer or potential interns may suggest projects of their own. 

Rich Schramm

Distributed Computing Infrastructure - This is an opportunity to apply distributed computing technologies to oceanographic sensing and data networks. There are many recent developments in distributed computing that are highly applicable to the way the we acquire and manage data. This position will investigate some aspects of those technologies and architect and deploy (working with our Information Systems group) systems that provide high availability infrastructure for both the collection, monitoring and dissemination of data.

Ken Smith and Alana Sherman

Monitoring changes in the deep-sea floor community using time-lapse photography: This project will examine changes in the dominant megafauna and sediment structures over a period of > 23 years by analyzing hourly photographs of the sea floor. Past changes at this deep-sea site at ~ 4000 m depth have been linked to variation in climate and the food supply which originates in surface waters and ultimately reaches the deep ocean. Other possible links to be examined include the impact of the Great Japanese earthquake in March 2011 and resulting tsunami on this deep-sea community.

Susan von Thun

Social media and MBARI: This project will focus on the potential for outreach and communication that social media holds. MBARI has a wealth of content including video and still images as well as a facebook and twitter presence. We are interested in finding out if our efforts are appropriately focused and if there are some other potential venues and/or uses of social media that we should be utilizing.

Bob Vrijenhoek and Julio Harvey

Molecular detection and ecology of marine zooplankton and phytoplankton: The qualifying intern will be directly involved in molecular genetic aspects of ongoing projects headed by the Vrijenhoek lab under the CANON initiative ( In particular, testing molecular probes designed to detect zooplankton (invertebrate larvae and copepods), against both pure cultures and environmental samples in addition to screening samples collected by the AUV Dorado or through more traditional means, such as plankton nets. Previous experience with molecular methods including genomic isolation, PCR, DNA sequencing and bacterial cloning is desired. Experimental results will be analyzed along with associated environmental data collected by the AUV to answer fundamental questions regarding how plankton assemblages interact with local oceanographic phenomena in the Monterey bay. All research conducted will be intended for expeditious publication in a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

BACK to 2012 Internship advertisement

Last updated: Jul. 18, 2012