Biological Research Internships

Parasite Ecology Internship (New!)

Project overview: The Isles of Shoals represent an exceptional location for exploring parasite diversity in multi-host parasite systems (particularly trematode parasites) that include intertidal invertebrates and shorebirds. Previous work at Shoals Marine Laboratory with interns have found interesting patterns in parasite prevalence of intermediate hosts around the islands, as well as influences on host foraging behavior and physiology. Parasite Ecology Interns will collect parasite diversity data in invertebrate hosts on Appledore Island, assist with experiments that induce infection in hosts and then explore host behavior and physiology across an infection gradient, and determine whether parasitism influences competitive interactions in co-occurring crab species, particularly the invasive European green crab and native Cancer crabs. Interns will learn to identify trematode parasite species, how to induce an infection gradient in host crabs, participate in behavior and competition experiments, and can use what they learn from this and past work to design their own short-term project. Appropriate coursework in marine invertebrates and marine ecology is recommended. Previous experience in a Shoals Marine Laboratory course is preferred, but not required. (Relevant SML courses: Field Marine Invertebrate Biology, Ecology & the Marine Environment).

Mentors: Dr. April Blakeslee and Rebecca Barnard (East Carolina University)

Dates: May 29 – August 8, 2017 (10 weeks)

Stipend: $150/week

One intern will be selected.

Intertidal Ecology Internship

Project overview: Intertidal Ecology Interns collect biodiversity data in intertidal transects permanently established around Appledore Island as part of a long-term monitoring program using National Park Service protocols. These transects are critical to evaluate the effects of climate change and introduced species in the Gulf of Maine, as well as to document shifts in species distribution and abundance. Interns identify all species in their transects, analyze transect data, and design future studies. The internship provides expertise in New England intertidal organisms, data analysis, and excellent training for employment in marine biodiversity surveys. Appropriate coursework in marine invertebrates and phycology is strongly recommended. Previous experience in a Shoals Marine Laboratory course is preferred, but not required (relevant SML courses: Field Marine Invertebrate Biology, Ecology & the Marine Environment).

Mentors: Dr. Chris Siddon (Alaska Fish & Game)

Dates: July 31-August 14, 2017 (2 weeks)

Stipend: $150/week

Four interns will be selected. Two of four spots reserved for current Cornell & UNH students.

View past internship posters here: 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Marine Mammal Internship

Project overview: Only a few minutes away from Appledore Island and the Shoals Marine Lab, lies Duck Island and its surrounding ledges, home to nearly a thousand seals at the peak of summer. This important haul out site for harbor and gray seals in the Gulf of Maine has allowed for ongoing research on seals since 2011 including: monitoring abundance estimates, photographic mark-recapture studies, individual and species specific site fidelity, incidence of entanglement and injuries, and distributional and behavioral interactions of the two species. Interns conduct several boat-based surveys of the seal colony each week by photographing all seals, then analyze and catalog the digital photos as well as associated behavioral and environmental data in the lab. Interns also work with the marine mammal research mentors to design an independent research project based on archived and/or new data. Database management skills and the desire to be self-motivated and participatory, are essential. Skills that interns will learn throughout this internship program include photography, basic boating, marine mammal biology and natural history, data interpretation and scientific data presentation.  Interns are expected to participate in weekly discussions on selected readings throughout the summer with their mentors. Previous experience in a Shoals Marine Laboratory course is preferred, but not required (relevant SML courses: Marine Mammal Biology, Anatomy & Function of Marine Vertebrates).

Mentors: Dr. Nadine Lysiak (UMass Boston), Dr. Andrea Bogomolni (WHOI), Lisa Sette (Center for Coastal Studies)

Dates: May 29-August 8, 2017 (10 weeks)

Stipend: $150/week

Two interns will be selected. Open to current Cornell & UNH students only.

Internships with SML Partner Institutions:

Gull Population Biology Internship - filled for 2017
  • Conduct Herring Gull nest monitoring in coordination with Field Ornithology Interns.

  • Monitor two sub-colonies of Great Black-backed Gulls throughout the summer.

  • 10 weeks on Appledore Island.

  • Contact Dr. Julie Ellis (Tufts University) for more info.

Project Puffin Field Internship Opportunities

Of Islands and Undergrads: A decade of bird study in the Isles of Shoals

Dr. David Bonter has mentored Field Ornithology research at SML for the last decade. Video by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Interested in applying? Things you should know:

Application deadline: 2017 internships are currently filled. Check back in the fall for deadlines for summer 2018 internships.


  • College freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in all majors may apply. Cornell and UNH students receive preference for internships.
  • Priority is given to students who have previously taken a course at SML.
  • Internships may fill if qualified applicants are chosen before the March 1st deadline.
  • Applicants should be prepared to upload (as separate files): cover letter, resume/CV, and unofficial transcripts.
  • Two letters of reference should be sent directly to Dr. David Buck,