Mentor & Lab: Ari Friedlaender & Logan Pallin, Bio-telemetry and behavioral ecology lab

Positions: 1 intern

Tentative dates: June 24th – August 30th

Project Location: Ocean Health Building, Coastal Campus

Project Background: We are seeking an undergraduate intern to help in the laboratory analysis of tissue samples collected from free-ranging baleen whales from around the world. One of the best ways that we can measure the health of a whale population is to determine the percent of pregnant females. Using tissue samples collected from humpback whales the feed in Antarctica and breed in Central America and Right whales that breed in Australia and feed in Antarctica, we will train an intern to process samples, run assays, and determine pregnancy rates through measured reproductive hormone levels. This information will add to a unique long-term database from which we can link pregnancy rates in whales to environmental conditions in the Antarctic, and how these are affected by climate change.

Intern duties: Duties will include the preparation of biopsy tissue samples for laboratory analysis, running reproductive hormone assays, interpreting hormone levels to assign pregnancy. The intern will work directly with Drs. Ari Friedlaender and Logan Pallin to be trained in proper laboratory methods for handling/processing samples, and then will conduct both supervised and unsupervised lab work to measure reproductive hormone levels in tissue samples. The intern will then help to aggregate data from different geographic locations, years, and species to make inferences regarding how pregnancy rates vary.

Intern qualifications: Basic laboratory skills (e.g. pipettes, use of chemicals, etc) and lab safety training. Basic knowledge of mammalian reproductive physiology and/or marine mammal behavior. Opportunities for field work to help collect samples locally will occur but are not critical for the project. Some familiarity with basic statistical software for generating informative graphs and summary statistics is also helpful.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
Not necessary but certainly could help with a learning curve.