Internships for Summer 2020 – Application due Feb 14th

Read the descriptions below to see the CAMINO offerings for summer 2020.

One application gives you access to up to 3 of these opportunities. You are encouraged to reach out to the labs directly if you have questions. Your application will be reviewed by the labs you choose and you may be invited to interview.

Decisions on placements will be finalized by March 13th.

The application period for CAMINO is now closed

Mentor(s): Ph.D. student Tim Brown, Zavaleta Lab, Conservation Science & Solutions Lab
Dates: June 22- Aug 30    Number of Interns: 3-4
Location: Training sessions on UCSC coastal campus, >8 weeks camping in the High Sierras

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.

Intern Duties: 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.

Qualifications: Bird ID (sight & sound) and handled skills a plus. Experience following/adhering to detailed research protocol, quantitate skills, data entry, organized and highly detail oriented, working long and strenuous days carrying a heavy and equipment, great attitude in inclimate weather and strenuous, prolonged working conditions.

Should I Volunteer during Spring Quarter? Not required, however highly recommended.

Mentor(s): Dr. Pete Raimondi, research specialist, Christy Bell and Melissa Douglas
Dates: June 22 – Aug 30    Number of Interns: 1-2
Location: UCSC Coastal Campus, days trips and some extended overnight trips

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 monitoring program along the west coast.

Internship Duties: Intern will work independently in the lab on a mussel growth and predation rate experiment, for their final project. The purpose of this experiment is to compare the annual growth and the rate of predation, of the California sea mussel (Mytilus californianus) at several study sites. In addition, the intern will help prepare and maintain equipment for local and remote field missions and participate in surveys at rocky intertidal sites along the California coast. More information about the monitoring program at

Qualifications: Position requires traveling 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. In addition, candidates must follow instructions well, record data neatly and accurately, and pay strong attention to details. Knowledge and the ability to identify local intertidal invertebrates and algae are preferred, but not required.

See more information about the monitoring program at

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes – Not required, however highly recommended.

Christy Bell:

Mentor(s): Dr. Ingrid Parker; Dr. Nicky Lustenhouwer (postdoc) and Ph.D. student Miranda Melen
Dates:  June 22-Aug 30  Number of Interns: 1
Location: UCSC Coastal Campus, Main Campus and local day trips

Background: Summer internship in plant ecology and evolution. We are looking for an intern to join Team Dittrichia at the Parker lab, to study the spread and evolution of invasive weeds in California. Dittrichia graveolens (aka Stinkwort, though luckily it smells quite sweet!) was first found in California in 1984 near San Jose, and has since spread rapidly across the state. Although Dittrichia initially spread mostly along roadsides (you’ll soon spot it everywhere when you’re driving around!), it has now started to invade native plant communities, restoration land, and rangelands. We use a variety of field, greenhouse and lab approaches to study how rapid evolution has contributed to the invasion of Dittrichia. For example, plants might adapt to high-altitude environments as they spread into the Sierra Nevada mountains, or become more competitive with native species, allowing them to spread away from roadsides.

Internship duties: The intern will have the opportunity to choose between two different projects, depending on their background, skills, and interests. The first project will focus on interactions with California native plants. Activities will include growing, measuring and harvesting plants in the greenhouse and/or field. The intern may participate with the team in collecting native plant seeds for experiments. Field work will take place at the Blue Oak Ranch UC Reserve. The aim of the second project is to study evolutionary differentiation between plants from the original introduction site in Santa Clara County, and the current invasion front in the Sierra foothills. The intern will extract DNA from leaf samples to study population structure, and collect data in a large greenhouse project examining the traits of plants from different locations. At the end of their project, the intern will present a poster with the results of their research.

Qualifications: We are looking for an enthusiastic student with a strong motivation to dig into the evolutionary ecology of invasive plants. Attention to detail and excellent record-keeping skills will be essential. The field project will require the ability to work outdoors under hot summer conditions. Botanical knowledge and access to a vehicle are desirable, but not required. For the second project, previous laboratory experience will be advantageous.

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes – this would be great if possible.

Mentor(s): Ryan Salladay, Jarmila Pittermann
Dates: June 22- Aug 30    Number of Interns: 1
Location: The Coastal Campus – UCSC, extended field trips ( overnight)

Background: Background: In the Pittermann Lab, we are interested in the effects of fire on tree physiology. California wildfire events have drastically increased over the past 20 years, and it is critical that we understand how our diverse forest ecosystems respond. We use prescribed burns in four sites near Tahoe to quantify the resilience of trees in the field and lab by measuring water transport, photosynthesis, and cell viability before and after fire. Ultimately, we are interested in identifying which ecological factors and species compositions are likely to be most resilient after fire.

Internship duties: Bark helps protect the vital tissues of trees. Variation in bark attributes (thickness, density, etc.) across tree species could influence how different tree species respond after fire. The intern will take charge of a summer project to determine the effectiveness of bark on fire resilience across several dominant California tree species in the Sierra. The intern will accompany Ryan on several trips to the field, where we will visit recently burned sites to collect bark samples from trunks and branches of various species for analysis. Bark attributes will be compared with corresponding physiological data (water transport, photosynthesis, cell viability). The student will manage and analyze their data, and present their findings in the form of a poster.

QualificationsWe are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated student interested in plant physiology and ecology. The intern must be comfortable camping and hiking short distances off-trail with equipment. A driver’s license is desired, but not required. No previous experience is necessary, as the intern will be trained for all field and lab work.

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter?  Would be great if possible, but not required.

Mentor(s): Dr. Kristy Kroeker; Ph.D. student Lauren Bell 
Dates:  June 22- Aug 30   Number of Interns: 1-2
Location: Sitka, Alaska

Background: The Kroeker Lab investigates the emergent effects of global change in coastal marine ecosystems from Baja California to Southeast Alaska. We are planning for our 2020 summer field season in Sitka, Alaska, where we have an extensive research program underway that will require a team of 4-5 students/technicians. For this multi-year project, we are combining seasonal subtidal field work with laboratory experimental systems to: 1) understand the structure and function of high-latitude kelp forest ecosystems, and 2) test the direct and indirect effects of rising temperatures and ocean acidification on organism physiology and species interactions.

Intern Duties: The student will assist with a large-scale experimental mesocosm (20+ tank system) that will be used to test how changes to seawater temperature, pH, light, and nutrients will affect macroalgae growth, physiology, nutritional quality, and chemical defenses. The student will be trained and gain expertise managing/troubleshooting mesocosm software and hardware, taking water samples for carbonate chemistry analysis, processing macroalgae samples for chemical composition, measuring algal photophysiology, performing data analysis, and much more. If the student is not AAUS SCUBA certified, there will be opportunities for the student to join team members in the field as a dive tender. If the student is AAUS SCUBA certified, the student will also have the opportunity to assist with subtidal field work over the course of the summer. We are happy to support students interested in also pursuing their own project during the summer that can be developed for presentation at a scientific meeting or turned into a senior thesis project.  

Qualifications: Candidates for this full-time position should be highly motivated to conduct lab and field research for 2+ months in a relatively remote but beautiful location. Sitka is a town of 8,000 people on an outer-coast island facing the Gulf of Alaska, with incredible opportunity for outdoor exploration and wildlife viewing. The student must be self-sufficient, communicative, and comfortable sharing housing with other UCSC students on the field team. The ideal candidate for this position will be willing to work hard with our team while keeping up a good attitude, will pay attention to detail, and will consistently take initiative in their work. The student is not required to be AAUS SCUBA certified, but if they are they will have the opportunity to assist with our subtidal survey work as well. Our team has a lot of fun working over the summer together, and we strive to balance our hard work with time to enjoy the benefits of long summer days in Alaskan paradise!  

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? At the very least, it would be wonderful to have the applicant participate in a few lab meetings in spring quarter to get to know our group. Beyond that, there will be ample opportunity for the applicant to volunteer during spring quarter to become familiar with lab techniques, but this is not required.

Mentor(s): Prof. Dan Costa, Terrie Williams; Ph.D. student Jessie Kendall-Barr
Dates:  June 22-Aug 30  Number of Interns: 1
Location: UCSC Coastal Campus, Long Marine Lab

Background: Are you interested in the neuroscience and behaviors of deep diving marine mammals? I am!

I’m looking for help characterizing the rest behavior of elephant seals, specifically with analyzing video and motion sensor data from sleep studies of elephant seals.

Intern Duties: The data has been collected already, but there may also be some opportunities to help out with the animals in the field or at The Marine Mammal Center, where I perform some of my studies. Depending on your goals, this project could constitute enough for a peer reviewed publication and/or a presentation at a conference.

Qualifications:  Some background in biology would be helpful as well as a preliminary understanding of data processing softwares such as Excel or Matlab or R. However, I can provide all the training that is needed for this project. All that I ask is that the applicant is motivated, careful, and has a good attitude.

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes – Not required, however highly recommended.

Mentor(s): Dr. Kristy Kroeker; Ph.D. student Ben Walker 
Dates:  June 22- Aug 23  Number of Interns: 1-2
Location: UCSC, Coastal Campus + local day trips

Background: If you want to work with deliciously fascinating Dungeness crabs and a mind-boggling experimental system that autonomously manipulates seawater chemistry, then come join the Kroeker lab for a summer in Santa Cruz! We’ll be renovating our advanced experimental system and exploring the potential effects of climate change on California’s valuable Dungeness crab.

Intern Duties: Tasks will include collecting specimens in the field using traps and/or SCUBA diving (if AAUS certified), aquaculture, taking water samples for chemistry analyses, experimental design and construction, measuring and weighing crabs, recording and analyzing data, and scientific communication.

Qualifications: We are looking for a student who is detail oriented, enthusiastic, inquisitive, highly motivated to be out on the water and in the corner of a dark lab, an excellent communicator, comfortable asking for clarification, able to identify and discuss mistakes, proactive, and hopefully not dealing with a childhood fear of crabs.

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes, but not required.

Mentor(s): Dr. Loik; Ph.D. student Justin Luong
Dates:  June 22- Aug 23   Number of Interns: 1-2
Location: UCSC, Younger Lagoon Reserve
Background: I am studying how knowledge about plant functional traits and phylogenetics can inform ecological restoration. Restoration has unpredictable outcomes. This is likely to become exacerbated by climate change because of precipitation variability. My study site is at Younger Lagoon Reserve at the UCSC Coastal Campus and utilizes rain-out shelters that simulate extreme droughts. This summer I will need assistance analyzing plant functional trait information for 12 CA coastal prairie plantspecies and dominant invasive species.
Intern Duties: We will determine functional traits such as specific leaf area (SLA), major vein length per unit area (VLA), leaf thickness, elemental composition and isotope analysis. Students will primarily process leaf leaf samples in the Loik Lab for functional trait analysis. Students may also have to assist with plot maintenance, which could include weeding, reconstructing infrastructure or planting. Students will be trained to use ImageJ for SLA and VLA and use a digital micrometer for measuring leaf thickness. Students will also be trained to prepare samples for elemental and isotope analysis (e.g. 13C and 15N). Students may be required to read scientific literature to gain a better understanding of the theoretical framework used for the research project.
Qualifications: No experience is required. Students should be comfortable working both outdoors and in a lab setting. Students will be required to complete basic lab safety training.
Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes, but not required.
If you have questions, please contact me at
Mentors: Drs. Michael Beck, Don Potts, & Marilou Sison-Mangus; Ph.D. student Stephan Bitterwolf
Dates:  June 22- Aug 23   Number of Interns: 1-2
Location: UCSC, Earth and Marine Sciences building and the coastal campus

Background: Stephan Bitterwolf is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In his doctoral research, he studies how tropical corals respond to anthropogenic pollutants (e.g., herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals) through laboratory experiments to identify protein, gene expression, microbiome, and symbiome patterns unique to each stressor. These patterns can then be examined in natural coral colonies to assess the presence of pollutants from small tissue samples.

Potential projects include:

  1. Utilizing sequencing technology to identify biomarkers of coral stress or resilience to stress from coral in laboratory experiments.
  2. Characterizing changes in the microbiome and symbiome (i.e., the community of symbiotic algae residing in corals) in response to environmental stress (e.g., bleaching, light, pollution, etc.) induced in laboratory experiments.
  3. Examining the effect of captivity on the coral holobiont (i.e., the entire being including the animal, bacteria, and algal symbionts).
  4. Exploring the utility of gene expression for characterizing the difference between acute and chronic stress.
  5. Creating Raspberry Pi tank automation hardware/software to alter temperature and pollutant dose rates.

Intern Duties: Join our research team and assume duties including participating in weekly lab meetings, keeping corals alive, running the experiments, conducting literature reviews, and presenting the results. Projects and responsibilities may be modified based on your interests.

Qualifications: Seeking Motivated EEB, MCD, BIO, BME, and CS undergraduate student(s) to conduct research on tropical corals at UC Santa Cruz. Must be ready to work as part of a team. Students will be required to complete basic lab safety training.

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes! Volunteers could assist in creating the experimental system and maintaining new coral cultures.

Contact: Stephan Bitterwolf | |

Mentor(s): Dr. Dan Costa; Ph.D. student Arina Favilla
Dates:  June 22- Aug 23   Number of Interns: 1
Location: UCSC, main campus, coastal campus and day trips
Background: Studying the thermal physiology of a freely diving animal can be tricky but animal-borne biologgers have made it possible to remotely collect high resolution data to enhance our understanding of their physiological adaptations and plasticity. My project combines physiological data recorded on biologgers with morphometric data to model the heat transfer of a diving juvenile elephant seal. Prior to attachment of the biologgers, I collect infrared and photogrammetric images of juvenile elephant seals as well as ultrasound images of their blubber depth. These images will provide critical data for creating a 3D biophysical model of the seal.
Intern duties: The intern will use a suite of software for image analysis, including ImageJ and Photomodeler. Depending on the intern’s interest, the data can be used for a project comparing different methodologies of modeling the surface area of a seal. If available in the spring quarter, the intern can also help with the fieldwork associated with the project and post-deployment calibration of the sensors on the biologgers.
Qualifications: Some knowledge about marine mammal adaptations and physiology would be helpful but not required. No previous experience with the image analysis software is necessary. I will provide training and protocols for each task. These analyses require patience, consistency, and a good mouse for clicking! For fieldwork in the spring, the intern must feel comfortable in field settings (usually pretty chilly and sandy) and work well in a team. The intern will be asked to help with some team-lifting. Good data-recording skills (good handwriting is a plus!) and attention to detail and one’s surroundings are essential. Ideally the sight of blood does not make them queasy.
Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes, especially if the intern would like to participate in some more hands-on activities of my project with the elephant seals. This will require completion of paperwork and training (online and in person).
Mentor(s): Dr. Mark Carr; Ph.D. student Casey Sheridan
Dates:  June – Sept, dates flexible   Number of Interns: 1-2
Location: UCSC, Coastal Campus + local day trips to Monterey

Background: In kelp forests along the central coast of California, a change from passive to active grazing behavior in sea urchins has shifted the once continuous kelp forest to a patchy landscape of underwater ‘sea urchin barrens’. Our current research focuses on the processes responsible for these shifts from forested to barrens states, associated changes to kelp forest food webs, and the factors that may increase resilience or promote recovery of kelp forest ecosystems.  We are especially interested in exploring the factors that prompted the change in sea urchin grazing behavior that 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.

Intern duties: For students who are not AAUS SCUBA certified: Students will participate in mesocosm (300 gal tank) experiments designed to investigate the effects of predators (rock crabs) and food availability (drift kelp) on sea urchin behavior. We will train students to be directly responsible for constructing and maintaining experimental systems, applying experimental treatments, making detailed behavioral observations, measuring grazing rates, and managing data. Students may also assist with boat-based rock crab trapping in the field to collect experimental organisms. We are also happy to support students who would like to pursue their own related projects over the course of the summer (for poster presentations, senior theses, etc.).

Additional opportunities for students who are AAUS SCUBA certified: Students may assist with subtidal experiments in Monterey, California designed to evaluate the food web effects of the loss of drift kelp (detached pieces of kelp) from the system. This will consist of making drift kelp manipulations (additions and removals) of plots in the field and surveying the associated communities regularly over time and collecting and identifying organisms at its conclusion. Students will assist in constructing, maintaining, and monitoring underwater experiments. Additionally, students may participate in underwater collection of experimental organisms for the mesocosm experiments.

Qualifications: Candidates for this position should have enthusiasm and strong personal motivation to conduct lab and/or field research and follow instructions well with attention to detail. Knowledge of local kelp forest invertebrate and algae identification are helpful, but not required. To assist on the SCUBA diving portions of these projects, students must have active AAUS certifications and CPR/O2/First aid at the time of placement and for the duration of the summer.

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Yes, but not required

For more info contact: Mark Carr ( or Casey Sheridan (

Mentor(s): Dr. Suzanne Alonzo; Ph.D. student Doriane Weiler
Dates:  June – Sept, dates flexible   Number of Interns: 1-2
Location: UCSC, Coastal Campus 

Background: From the vibrant feathers of a peacock’s tail to the dazzling courtship displays of guppies, sexually selected traits are some of the most bizarre and fascinating features of living organisms. While the evolutionary causes of sexually selected traits are well-studied, we know surprisingly little about the consequences of these traits on ecosystems.

Intern duties: This summer, CAMINO interns in the Alonzo Lab will be studying how male harassment behavior, a sexually selected trait, influences freshwater ecology using mosquitofish. Mosquitofish are a highly invasive freshwater species and can profoundly alter ecosystems through trophic interactions, but it’s possible that reproductive behaviors have a mediating effect on their environmental impact. Interns on this project will conduct a behavioral experiment to quantify variation in mosquitofish reproductive behavior, and will then measure the ecosystem-wide consequences of this variation by introducing fish to experimental ponds and measuring environmental changes. Interns will learn diverse hands-on skills including handling live animals, designing experiments, recognizing and quantifying behavior, measuring ecosystem variables (pH, chlorophyll, temperature, community richness), analyzing data, and communicating experimental results.

Qualifications: We are seeking highly motivated students who are excited about doing hands-on research, are comfortable working with live animals, and have the attention to detail necessary to collect high-quality data. Completion of behavioral ecology is preferred but not required.

Option to volunteer during Spring Quarter? Volunteering spring quarter is very highly preferred but not required

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.