Summer 2019 positions filled, check back in Fall to apply for Summer 2020!

2019 Cohort

Mentor(s): Ph.D. student Tim Brown, Zavaleta Lab

CAMINO Interns: Sarah Albright, Vincent Chevreuil, Jonathan Green, Sara Noguera

The most vulnerable wildlife on Earth to climate change includes migratory, mountaintop animals. We focus on the Sierra Nevada Rosy-finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis dawsoni) to answer two critical questions: what limits its breeding distribution to extreme elevations, and how does understanding these limits inform its conservation under climate change? California’s Sierra Nevada subspecies is the southernmost Rosy-finch breeding population left in North America. In summer 2019, our team will survey breeding Sierra Nevada Rosy-finches and their environments throughout the high Sierra, mainly by hiking and backpacking to ~20 different breeding sites over the summer to survey vegetation, insects, birds and habitat variables like snowfields, cliff nesting areas, and talus.

Interns will survey Rosy-finch breeding sites as described above, and capturing, measuring and banding birds at three sites and drawing blood samples for genetic and genomic analyses. Their work will include data collection and recording, data entry and exploration, and opportunities for analysis of data subsets to generate final projects or posters. The position is full-time in the true sense – with long field days and with days off taken partly while in the field and partly while in a town. Interns will contribute to field logistics (team meals, menu planning and resupply) and will rotate involvement in the different data streams (e.g. bird point counts, plant identification and vegetation sampling, insect sampling). In the final week(s), interns will work with their mentors to develop research posters/talks (either jointly or individually) and present findings from the summer. The internship is physically demanding, calling for backpacking with a loaded pack (40-70 lbs.) on trails for up to 8-10 miles, to sites at 10,000-14,000’ in elevation, and camping and working for up to several days at a time in settings that can be cold or hot, windy, and exposed to intense sunshine. The sites will be stunning from start to finish, and the project provides a chance to become part of a tightly knit team in the mountains and to contribute to the conservation of wild vertebrates endemic to this corner of the world.

Mentor(s): Dr. Pete Raimondi and research specialist, Christy Bell

CAMINO Interns: Nina Evans and Samuel Rapp

Summer internship in marine ecology. This position will be involved in interdisciplinary studies focusing on questions in marine ecology, conservation of nearshore species, and oceanographic drivers of ecological processes. Successful candidates will participate in a large-scale rocky intertidal and/or subtidal monitoring program along the west coast.

Internship Duties
General responsibilities include: Help plan and organize logistics and prepare supplies for local and remote field missions; survey rocky intertidal sites (*and possibly subtidal).

Position requires travelling and working on multiple overnight trips often camping and working in adverse weather conditions and working very early mornings. The position also requires the ability to do technical hiking with a heavy load as well as considerable time bending and kneeling in the field. The ideal candidate will have strong interpersonal, communication, and decision-making skills; will be self-motivated and have the ability to work well independently and as part of a diverse team. *Subtidal work is a possibility if candidate is AAUS scuba certified.

More information about the monitoring program at

Christy Bell:

Mentor(s): Dr. Mark Carr and research specialist, Dan Malone

CAMINO Intern: Giovanna Sainz


Summer internship in kelp forest ecology. In kelp forests along the central coast of California, active sea urchin grazing has shifted a once continuous kelp forest landscape to underwater ‘sea urchin barrens’ that are void of kelp and associated species. Our current research focuses on the processes responsible for these shifts from forested to barrens states and the recovery (i.e. resilience) of the forested ecosystem. We explore sea urchin grazing behavior that have led to widespread kelp forest loss and how factors such as predators, disease, and disturbance might contribute to sea urchin population control and the recovery of kelp forest ecosystems.

Internship Duties
For students who are not AAUS SCUBA certified: In the field, students will primarily participate in boat-based crab trapping surveys. These surveys will be conducted in Monterey, California and are designed to characterize the population size and distribution of these important sea urchin predators. Students will assist in daily deployment and retrieval of crab traps from UCSC research vessels and will be trained and directly responsible for gear preparation and maintenance, recording the crab catch, and data management. In the lab students will participate in mesocosm (300 gal tank) experiments designed to investigate the effects of crabs and algae on sea urchin behavior. Students will be directly responsible for constructing and maintaining experimental systems, collecting data, and data management. For students who are AAUS SCUBA certified: In the field students will primarily participate in diver-based mesocosm experiments in Monterey, California designed to evaluate the effects of predators on sea urchin grazing behavior and mortality. Students will assist in constructing, maintaining, and monitoring underwater experiments. In addition, the students will conduct kelp forest surveys using high-resolution camera quadrat sampling to assess predator and urchin abundances.

Candidates for this position should have a strong personal motivation to conduct field or lab research, follow instructions well with attention to details. Students need to have taken and passed an introductory biology series (e.g. 20A, 20B, 20C). The position requires working on research vessels both in and out of cold water and spending a considerable amount of time in the field. Knowledge of local kelp forest invertebrate and algae identification are preferred, but not required. SCUBA divers must have an active AAUS certification and CPR/O2/First aid at the time of placement and for the duration of the summer.
More information about our program is available at:

Dan Malone:

Mentor: Patrick Robinson, Director Año Nuevo Reserve

CAMINO Intern: Meghan DeCoite

California sea lion demography
This project involves two or three trips to Ano Nuevo Island each week to search for and photograph California sea lions with tags or brands (part of a large demographic study run by NOAA’s Marine Mammal Lab).  The intern will take photographs of tagged sea lions for later identification and data entry.  During the lab-based days, the intern will have the opportunity to conduct an independent project using the field data and assist with a variety of related projects, including:  public outreach, data entry, drone-based censuses, etc.

Due to the frequent use of small boats, this work is physically intensive and interns will need to be comfortable lifting up to 50 lbs and must know how to swim. Previous experience with DSLR cameras and with small boats is desirable.

Patrick Robinson:

Mentor(s): Dr. Dan Costa and Post-Doctoral Researcher, Roxanne Beltran

CAMINO Intern: Sarah Wood

Dr. Dan Costa’s lab focuses on the physiology and ecology of large marine vertebrates. We use a combination of field research, biologging deployments, and mathematical modeling to determine how these animals make a living both in the ocean and on land. This summer internship will help a student develop quantitative ecology skills through analysis of existing data. Potential projects include: (1) Quantifying behavior of captive seals from video recordings; (2) Counting and measuring seals, sea lions, and sea birds in drone photos from Año Nuevo Natural Reserve; and (3) Analyzing diving and tracking data from elephant seal pups during their first ocean migration. Depending on interest and time, the student is welcome to select the project of their choice. The student may also assist with elephant seal or sea lion fieldwork at Año Nuevo up to one day per week.

Applicant should be a registered UCSC student, with a preference for students that might be interested in continuing to work in the Costa lab and/or producing a senior thesis during the following academic year. Applicant should be interested in data analysis and programming (MATLAB or R), although no experience is necessary.

Roxanne Beltran:

Mentor: A. Marm Kilpatrick Lab, Ph.D. student, Christa Seidl

CAMINO Intern: Samantha Abarca

Here at the Kilpatrick Lab, we investigate the ecological intricacies of wildlife disease. We use a combination of field research, empirical lab studies, and mathematical modelling to uncover host-vector-pathogen dynamics and how they can change over time and space. Our current research focuses on avian malaria in Hawaiian birds, a parasitic disease rapidly driving many of Hawaii’s endemic and charismatic native species toward extinction. We are examining differences in virulence of Plasmodium relictum strains using a non-native invasive bird species, the Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicas) and host infectiousness to Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes.

Mosquito behavior and infectiousness is of great scientific interest. Mosquitoes vector some of the world’s most devastating human (Malaria, Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya) and wildlife diseases (avian malaria, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis), and thus a better understand of what affects mosquito behavior and survival is crucial to informing disease management. Furthermore, mosquito rearing provides excellent opportunities to test basic biological and ecological constraints on animal development. Questions of ecological and epidemiological interest include but are not limited to: how does quality, type, and access to food resources affect development time to adulthood? What host characteristics (e.g. smell) affect biting preferences? How does water quality affect juvenile rearing success?

We are looking for 1 responsible and motivated student interested in acquiring animal care and disease ecology skills. This student will be asked to help with daily animal care responsibilities at Thimann Labs including but not limited to: assisting with food/water/cage cleaning for captive birds, mosquito rearing and feeding trials, biological sample collection, preparation, and storage, and data entry. This student will be expected to keep regular hours, with occasional weekend work.

What will the student learn?
The student will learn how to apply the scientific method and gain valuable practical laboratory skills, applicable to ecology, epidemiology, and a range of other professional biological research fields. They will learn how to take, process, and store blood samples used for parasite quantification, PCR, and genomic analyses. The student will learn how to care for and raise both wild vertebrate (birds) and invertebrate (mosquitoes) organisms, experience highly desirable in many graduate research programs. The student will also have the opportunity to use the mosquito colony to ask and test their own research questions.

Christa Seidl:

Mentor: Prof. Jarmilla Pittermann, Ph.D. student Ryan Salladay

CAMINO Intern: Niara Brown


Wildfire in California is of great concern, as we have seen increases in frequency, size and intensity of fires over the past decade. Alongside fire, severe drought poses a threat to forest communities throughout California. Trees are adapted to withstand fire with traits such as thick bark. However, there are likely lesser known traits influencing post-fire resilience. There has been recent evidence demonstrating the role of physiology in the resilience of tree species following fire. Our lab is interested in how xylem (water transport) in trees is impacted by extreme heat. This summer we will be visiting field sites in California that have burned recently, spanning from the coast to the Sierra. The goal of this project is to identify California tree species that are most resilient to fire and subsequent drought.

Internship Duties

Interns will work primarily in the field, interspersed with shorter trips back in the lab at UCSC. Field work will consist of collecting physiological trait data, including leaf water potential, hydraulic conductivity, stomatal conductance, and photosynthetic rates. The lab portion will include controlled burns of small branches and measuring xylem cavitation. The students will play a central role in data collection, entry and analysis. At the end of the summer they will be responsible for presenting their work in the form of a poster.


We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic student to gain skills in plant physiology methods. Fieldwork will require many consecutive nights camping, often with very early mornings (pre-dawn measurements are common). Applicants should feel comfortable camping and spending long days in adverse weather conditions. While direct experience in plant physiology is not required, a passion for plant science is highly encouraged. Knowledge of native California plant identification is desirable.

Ryan Salladay,

Please contact Judy Straub: with any general questions about the program.
If you have specific questions about one of the research projects, please email the researcher directly.