Undergraduate Research Opportunities

long marine lab

Early Career Field Experience: Survey Slugs

The Survey Slugs Program was launched in Winter Quarter of 2018 and provides an opportunity for early career undergraduates to gain experience collecting data in a field setting.  Over the course of a 10 week quarter, 34 undergraduates and 9 undergraduate, graduate, or community volunteers go out and survey 8 beaches in Santa Cruz or Monterey County.  Teams collect data on marine mammal strandings as part of an effort to better understand how public calls about marine mammal strandings reflect actual stranding numbers.  Teams also collect marine debris data to contribute to a national effort by NOAA to understand the amount and type of marine debris collecting on our beaches and eventually ending up in the ocean.  Students gain basic data collection skills while forming bonds with team members, being exposed to the scientific process, and learning more about the local community.  The program is sponsored by The Long Marine Lab Marine Mammal Stranding Program and funded in part by the John H. Prescott Grant Program for Marine Mammal Strandings.  For more information email .

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 Long Marine Lab Marine Mammal Stranding Program

The Long Marine Lab Stranding Program is part of the National Stranding Network program which collects data on live and dead stranded marine mammals in the United States.  Our mission is to advance science, education, and public awareness of marine mammals and ocean health through response and detailed examination of marine mammal carcasses. For over 25 years we have contributed high quality research data to the broader marine mammal science community. These data have been used by numerous researchers to further understand marine mammal populations. Along with data from our neighboring partners, stranding network data has also contributed to changes in fishing regulations, better understanding of marine mammal health and disease, and the link between human and ocean health.  The LML Stranding Program accepts new volunteers, both community members and students every spring.  The requirements for this program are a year-long commitment and a car.  The next training is in fall 2022.  Check back soon for an application.

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Undergraduate Senior Thesis Opportunities

Undergraduates with an interest in doing a senior thesis project are encouraged to schedule an appointment with Dr. Dunkin to discuss the commitment and expectations for senior thesis students.  I encourage students to start thinking about this process in their junior year to ensure enough time to fully develop a project.  In general, I give priority to students that have participated in the Long Marine Lab Stranding Program or the Survey Slug Program.  Students may work on projects related to marine mammal strandings, marine debris, or physiology related topics.  Senior thesis students are expected to attend weekly lab meetings and contribute to support of other students in the lab.  I am interested in promoting collaborative projects with students from other disciplines so cross-disciplinary ideas and student teams are encouraged to contact me.