2023 Inclusive NOAA Fisheries Internship Potential Projects and Mentors
Interested in an internship, but still looking for a project or mentor? Here’s a list of research projects we’ve lined up for 2023.
We’re lining up our opportunities for 2023 for Inclusive NOAA Fisheries Internship (IN FISH). This list will be updated as we get more feedback from mentors and students. For other project ideas, review the research projects IN FISH students completed in 2021 and 2022.
You may not be matched with your first choice project or mentor. But, we’ll work with mentors to match students to projects and locations where they can be successful.
If you apply to the 2023 program, indicate on your application which mentors or projects interest you. If you secure a spot, we will take your interests into account when we match students with mentors. Soon after we extend offers in March, we will make matches and put students in touch with their mentors to discuss potential projects.
This list will be updated periodically as more mentors and projects become available. We anticipate offering a broad range of projects in a variety of disciplines, including:
- Science communication
- Ecosystems management
- Marine biology
- Coastal processes
- Fish ecology
- Wetland restoration
Email questions to Darius Johnson.
Applied Kelp Aquaculture
Institution: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Lindell Laboratory
Mentor: Scott Lindell
Location: Woods Hole, Massachusetts
- Experimental design
- Image analysis
- Kelp biology
The Applied Aquaculture Research Program conducts research and development of marine aquaculture to sustainably provide food, feed, and fuel. We strive to develop methods that provide positive ecosystem services and economic development opportunities and minimize negative social and environmental impacts. This demands a multi-disciplinary approach encompassing various subsets of biology and engineering. Major research focuses on selective breeding and on improving hatchery/nursery processes for ocean farming sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima). There are three potential student projects for this summer. All projects will equip students with data collection and analysis skills, and with experience working in a kelp hatchery.
Kelp Farming Trial Data Analysis
You will analyze data from four years of kelp farming trials to relate kelp traits such as growth and sugar content to individual kelp genotypes. You will work with large amounts of phenotypic and genetic data , and have the opportunity to help take measurements of kelp harvested in the 2023 field season. Experience with databases and bioinformatics is helpful but not essential.
Kelp Heat Tolerance Study
You will screen and select heat-tolerant kelp varieties that are resilient to changing ocean farm conditions. Students will gain experience with experimental design, microscopy skills, and taking algae physiology measurements.
Measuring Kelp Reproductive Potential
You will quantify several key metrics of kelp reproductive potential and success:
- Spore production from selected farmed and wild kelp
- Spore settlement rate
- Development and growth rate of kelp gametophytes
- Optimal seeding density on string used for planting onto ocean farms
You will gain laboratory skills including microscopy, cell counting, and image analysis. You will also work on specialized skills such as how to prepare kelp tissue for spore release, and how to identify different life stages of kelp.
Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Project
Mentors: Lindsay Fullenkamp and Justin Pearce
Institution: NOAA Fisheries Office of Sustainable Fisheries
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
- Sustainable seafood
- Public policy
- Fishing gear and fishing practices
- Reducing bycatch
- Data management
You will work closely with the coordinator of the NOAA Fisheries Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program. Through BREP, NOAA Fisheries supports development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch. Our mission is to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries. You will create a repository of the different technologies and fishing gear types that NOAA Fisheries has funded through BREP over the years. The repository will be used to respond to inquiries and assist the BREP in decision-making.
Southeast & Caribbean Offshore Wind Energy Development
Institution/Department: NOAA/Southeast Fisheries Science Center
Location: Miami, Florida (may also be remote/hybrid)
- Offshore wind energy development
- Science communications
- Ecosystem-based management
- Protected resources
- Fisheries survey data
- Critical habitat
You will work closely with the office’s chief of staff, ecosystem lead, and communications specialists to research, collect, and document our regional role and planned contributions to supporting offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Caribbean. This is an opportunity to help articulate and describe a new role for our agency as we support the administration’s priority to increase our nation’s capacity to produce clean energy while ensuring that NOAA’s Trust resources are protected.
You will have the opportunity to:
- Engage with our center's senior leadership, communication leads, and science staff
- Learn how we work with our partners at NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the Bureau for Ocean Energy Management
- Help create a centralized web location to coordinate all of our wind-related activities
- Support the development of a science plan to support offshore wind (including travel to any related workshop that may take place during the internship)
- Learn about ecosystem approaches to inform ocean resource use
Bay Scallops and Ocean Acidification
Institution/Department: NOAA/Northeast Fisheries Science Center
Location: Milford Laboratory, Milford, Connecticut
- Adaptive capacity
- Ocean acidification
- Climate change
We hope to recruit an IN FISH student to work on a multigenerational experiment to assess the ability of bivalves to adapt to ocean acidification. You will conduct this work with third-generation bay scallops that have been reared under continuous exposure to one of three ocean acidification treatments over all three generations. We are using bay scallops as a proxy for other bivalves, including sea scallops, due to their short generation time.
Primary research questions for the project are:
- Do juvenile bay scallops have increased resilience to ocean acidification after three generations of rearing under one of three OA conditions?
- How does ocean warming affect this tolerance?
Postlarval scallops will be exposed to OA conditions and elevated temperatures (three cohorts, three OA conditions, two temperatures) to understand the synergistic effects of combined environmental factors. Growth, survival, and respiration rate will be used to characterize the phenotypic responses to OA and ocean warming.
This research will lead to increased knowledge on the capacity of bivalves to adapt to ocean acidification and warming. This work will also inform selective breeding programs geared toward improving aquaculture success in a changing environment.
Waste Mitigation for Striped Bass Aquaculture
Mentor: Michael Acquafredda
Institution: NOAA/Northeast Fisheries Science Center
Location: James J. Howard Laboratory, Sandy Hook, New Jersey
- Polychaete worms
- Sea vegetables
- Food security
- Sustainable and local food systems
- Climate change
This project is investigating whether integrated multi-trophic aquaculture is a feasible and environmentally sustainable strategy for mitigating the wastes produced by striped bass reared in land-based recirculating aquaculture systems. Specifically, we are testing the capacity of the polychaete worm Alitta virens and the salt-tolerant plant Salicornia bigelovii to use solid and dissolved wastes, respectively. Waste management is one of the factors that has limited the sustainability and expansion of finfish aquaculture.
You will gain skills in:
- Operating aquaculture systems
- Conducting animal and plant husbandry
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Sharing results through scientific presentations
Striped bass are large, anadromous fish native to the East Coast. Both farm-raised and wild-caught harvests support domestic production of this popular seafood. Commonly known as the sand worm, A. virens is an important bait species in the Northeast with high commercial value. The sea bean, S. bigelovii (also known as pickleweed and sea asparagus), is an edible, salt-tolerant plant with several commercial uses, from animal fodder and biofuel to human consumption. If grown together successfully, these three native species have the potential to:
- Diversify aquaculture operations in the Northeast
- Increase the sustainability of recirculating aquaculture systems
- Relieve pressure on wild stocks
- Give growers an additional crop and potential new sources of income
Developing Fish Passage Engineering Guidelines for the Atlantic Coast
Mentor: Bjorn Lake
Location: Woods Hole, Massachusetts, or Silver Spring, Maryland, or split between each location
- Fish passage
- Biology of migratory fish species
- Restoration ecology
- Hydraulic engineering
- Technical writing
- Graphic design
- Database management and data entry
- Construction costs and methods
You will primarily help our fish passage engineer develop fish passage engineering guidelines for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts and the Great Lakes. NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together on these guidelines. NOAA Fisheries’ Hydropower Program works to restore and improve fish passage at dams by issuing “fishway prescriptions” under the Federal Power Act.
“Fish passage” describes how fish move among habitats they rely on for food, growth, reproduction, and other needs. Studying fish passage involves a range of knowledge and abilities. These guidelines will eventually cover engineering criteria, design guidelines, and pertinent information for practitioners (engineers, fishery biologists, habitat restoration specialists, etc.) to use when designing fish passage facilities. An example of a recently completed similar document is the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region Anadromous Salmonid Design Manual.
Stakeholder Support for International Programs
Mentors: Krissy Rusello, Kim Young, Jeff Weir
Institution: NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
- Stakeholder outreach
- Public policy
- International fisheries
- Seafood trade
You will work closely with the office’s chief of staff and communications specialists on projects such as expanding and updating our stakeholder contact lists or drafting talking points and briefing papers. This is an opportunity to experience a fast-paced office and to see the development and implementation of U.S. government policy related to international fisheries.
You will have an opportunity to:
- See and help respond to various requests for information from Congress, foreign countries, or members of the public
- Participate in a rollout of one of our reports or rulemakings
- Help craft one or more web articles about our work
- Engage in other projects related to office priorities
Using Satellite Remote Sensing for Ecological Studies
Mentor: Kimberly Hyde
Institution: NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Ecosystem Dynamics and Assessment Branch
Location: Narragansett Laboratory, Narragansett, Rhode Island
- Remote sensing
- Phytoplankton ecology
- Ecosystem assessment
- Data visualization
You will work with a variety of remote sensing and in situ ecosystem data. One potential project is to compare primary production measurements with satellite remote sensing models. You will need some basic coding and statistical skills. You will learn about oceanography, phytoplankton, data processing, and visualizations, while contributing to broader ecosystem-based management applications and development of a NOAA primary production product.
Understanding Sea-Run Fish
Location: Orono, Maine
- Diadromous fish
- Water quality
- Atlantic salmon
You will work on various aspects of our research and outreach projects related to sea-run fish. Fieldwork includes a biweekly hydroacoustic survey in the Penobscot estuary on a small research vessel, part of a long-term monitoring effort for the system. During these surveys you will operate scientific echosounders to measure fish biomass and size, count marine mammals and birds, and collect water quality measurements. You will also perform numerous tasks in support of the Estuarine Survey program including:
- Preparing hydroacoustic gear for deployment
- Genetic sampling
- Otolith extraction,
- Aging river herring species collected during the survey
This project will also support the Penobscot Indian Nation in their fisheries program. This program:
- Develops and protects sustenance fishing opportunities
- Conducts a wide range of water quality monitoring activities throughout the Penobscot watershed and tribal trust lands
- Manages, monitors, and helps to restore the entire suite of sea-run fish to tribal waters in the Penobscot River drainage
Study Endangered Atlantic Salmon
Mentor: Ruth Haas-Castro
Institution: NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team
Location: Woods Hole Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
- Atlantic Salmon
- Fish age and growth
- Image analysis
Your project will be related to determining the age and/or growth of Atlantic salmon using newly collected or archived scales. Scales are a valuable record of growth in Atlantic salmon since they record patterns of growth over the lifetime of a fish. You will contribute to a time series of age data collected from Atlantic salmon smolts annually since 1996, develop a project, and access archived data and new data for that project.
- Prepare and image scales taken from young Atlantic salmon
- Help determine smolt ages from the scales
- Archive and organize processed scales and associated image files
- Measure scale features using our state-of-the-art image processing system.
Our Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team monitors emigration of Atlantic salmon smolts in Maine rivers and studies the growth patterns in the scales from both juvenile and adult life stages of this endangered species. We examine the growth rings in scales because the patterns observed are characteristic of specific river populations and help identify returning adults. This research is conducted in collaboration with Maine’s Department of Marine Resources.
Seamount National Monument Management
Mentors: Cori Kane, Heather Coleman
Location: Gloucester, Massachusetts and Silver Spring, Maryland
- Marine protected areas
- Marine management and policy
- Deep-sea coral ecosystems
- Applied ecology
- Science communication
You will help draft the management plan for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. You will be co-mentored, and work on a number of management and data projects to improve the ecosystems sections of the management plan. This is a dynamic internship. You will have the opportunity to work with NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Office of Habitat Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop lasting content that will help guide the management of the monument.
We anticipate that you will:
- Work with NOAA’s deep-sea coral research team to synthesize deep-sea data within monument boundaries
- Create graphics to include in the plan
- Draft summaries for the management plan
- Create relevant social media content for both offices
Understanding Fisheries Permits
Mentor: Ted Hawes
Location: Gloucester, Massachusetts (may also be remote/hybrid)
- Web design/development
- Marine policy
- Fisheries policy
- Education and outreach
- Program management
You will conduct an assessment of our fishery permitting programs and create an inventory. This will require you to work with multiple divisions to:
- Gather and assess information relating to fisheries permits
- Create and design content to update our website and web portals
- Develop outreach materials for the fishing community.
You will gain experience in how NOAA regulates federal fisheries in the Northeast, and have opportunities to communicate science and policy objectives to the fishermen and fishing communities.
Shortfin Squid Electronic Size Monitoring Project
Mentor: Anna Mercer
Institution: Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Cooperative Research Branch
Location: Narragansett Laboratory, Narragansett, Rhode Island
- Collaborative research
- Fisheries oceanography
- Fisheries dynamics
- Northern shortfin squid,
- Electronic technologies
- Environmental drivers of resource species
You will help industry partners with data collection at processing facilities, and learn about analyzing the data to understand the fishery and population dynamics of northern shortfin squid. This is an opportunity to:
- Get fieldwork experience
- Advance your data collection skills using electronic tools
- Build relationships with partners in the fishing industry
- Advance analytical skills
The life history and population dynamics of the northern shortfin squid are poorly understood because there is little data, yet the species supports a productive fishery on the northwest Atlantic continental shelf. We developed our Shortfin Squid Electronic Size Monitoring Project in 2021 to collect size and weight measurements at processing plants from individual shortfin squid throughout the fishing season. These data are key to understanding the ingress, egress, growth, and reproduction of this species, which only reproduces once in its lifetime.
We have distributed electronic data collection systems to shortfin squid processors in the region, and they are using it to collect biological data during the vessel offload process. These data are uploaded to NEFSC databases for scientific analysis and downloaded by processors for use in sales and marketing.
In 2021 and 2022, processors collected more than 60,000 shortfin squid mantle lengths and weights. This project plays a critical role in documenting rapidly changing dynamics of the shortfin squid population and promotes the long-term conservation of this valuable fishery resource.