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What's Involved?

Photograph of dissectionInternships with the ReefQuest Marine Projects are not the same as field experience.

Most of our internships consist entirely of assisting me one-on-one with dissections, library research, and computer analysis of data toward production of a planned scientific paper (on which the intern and I share full authorship). As such, they are not glamorous and the work is often painstakingly dull. But they are a terrific way for students to develop skills for working with shark specimens, advance or enhance their academic training, and to get a real 'leg up' on breaking into shark research as a career by getting their name on a published paper. Only occasionally do internships include field research experience, and then only locally (Pacific Northwest region).

Interns are expected to pay their own expenses (travel, accommodations and food) and commit to volunteering at the ReefQuest Marine Projects for not less than one month. Interns who impress me are first-in-line for more exciting research opportunities, including financially assisted participation in field research and even the possibility of eventual employment with the Centre.

The Centre does not offer regular student internships at this time. We are a small research institution, with a staff of five and two graduate students at present. However, we maintain a waiting list of students with whom we are willing to work on a one-on-one basis at the Centre and possibly in the field locally.

What About Field Research?

The Centre does conduct regular field research expeditions and we often allow select individuals to join us on specific projects.

Most field research involves joining a small group of hand-picked individuals, travel to remote (and often exotic) locations, topside or -- preferably -- underwater observation of free-swimming sharks, and data collection. This work is often augmented with specimen collection and in situ dissections. Much of this work is glamorous and a lot of fun, but it, too, is not without its unavoidable drudgery (equipment maintenance, data entry, weather days, etc.). Participants will gain invaluable experience working with living sharks and share adventures/camaraderie with like-minded people, many of whom will become life-long friends and/or colleagues. Everyone who participates in field research is acknowledged an all papers accruing from that work; those who add significantly to the methodology, findings, or analysis of the research will share full authorship on all papers to derive directly from their expedition.

Experience our on-going field research projects.

How are Applicants Selected?

Time in the field is very precious and those who are accepted are not simply those who can afford to cover their expenses (travel, boat time, accommodations, and food). Competition for the very limited spaces on field research expeditions is intense. Applicants are selected based on special skills they bring to a specific research project (such as boat handling, fishing, diving, photography or videography) and their attitude (we're looking for people who are serious-minded but fun, able to adapt methodologies 'on the fly' and roll with the inevitable frustrations and disappointments of working at sea).

If this sounds like you, then I'd love to hear from you. If you'd like to be considered as a participant in one of our field research projects, send me your CV. If I'm suitably impressed, we can discuss your specific interests and career goals as well as which specific skills you can offer a research project. Then it's simply a matter of matching your interests and abilities with a specific research project.

I hope this clarifies the differences between internships and field research opportunities with ReefQuest Marine Projects, what's involved in each, and how we select participants.

      R. Aidan Martin



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