How to Apply

REU Program applications are due on February 15th, 2024

Mentors and Project Opportunities

Students in lab.

Each REU students is mentored by a Senior Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory. For examples and abstracts of REU projects from previous years, visit the sub-pages dedicated to each year. On the program application, applicants will indicate two scientists they are interested in working with; students with questions about potential research projects are encouraged to contact the scientist leading the project. Please visit the research pages of individual scientists here.

2024 Mentors

  • Christoph Aeppli

    Dr. Christoph Aeppli is an environmental chemist who studies transformation and accumulation of organic pollutants (PFAS and oil hydrocarbons) in the ocean.

    We use laboratory experiments, analytical tools (GC/MS, LC/MS), and field measurements. We have four possible topics:

    1. Oil photooxidation mechanisms: Performing laboratory experiment to investigate the formation of reactive species by sunlight that degrade oil hydrocarbons oil after a marine spill
    2. Oil emulsification: Investigate how oil photooxidation produces surface-active compounds, that then facilitate oil dispersion or emulsification
    3. PFAS sources: Collect field samples, measure PFAS, and perform data analysis to identify various PFAS sources in en estuary
    4. PFAS removal by algae (project together with Dr. Manoj Kamalanathan): Perform algae growth and bioaccumulation laboratory experiments to investigate the PFAS removal potential of algae

    See the website for more information about the Aeppli lab.

  • Steve Archer

    This internship provides an opportunity to investigate sources of greenhouse gases in the coastal environment and to try to understand their relevance to a changing atmosphere and climate. Little is known about emissions of the powerful greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide in estuarine and coastal environments where rapid changes in habitat and water quality are occurring. This research will use a recently developed dynamic flux chamber approach to quantify fluxes of these important gases across the air/sea interface over a variety of locations in the estuaries and coastline of mid-coast Maine. The intern should expect to gain experience in gas measurements and flux estimation in the field, experimental design, handling and interpreting large datasets, knowledge of the microbial processes that generate methane and nitrous oxide and effective dissemination of results.

  • John Burns

    The word "protist" is used as a catch-all to describe incredibly diverse single-celled eukaryotes. There are protists related to plants, protists related to fungi, protists related to animals, and protists that form their own distinct lineages. Research in the Burns lab is centered on questions about protists, how they work, who they interact with, and how those interactions happen. We address questions in

    1. Symbiosis: How do cells from different branches of life interact? What molecules are exchanged? What mediates their interactions?
    2. Biomineralization: How does life concentrate elements to seed and control mineral formation? What is the function of the complex forms created?
    3. Evolution: How can studying diversity inform us of the link between information (DNA sequence) and form and function (phenotype)? To do this we use a combination of computational and experimental approaches. Projects include investigating viruses in a salamander-alga symbiosis, and listening to biochemical signals that protists use to regulate their activity and talk to one another.
  • Peter Countway

    Research in the Countway lab focuses on revealing the diversity, ecology and function of microbial communities through the application of genetic research techniques, including PCR, digital PCR, DNA and RNA Sequencing. Most recently, our work has focused on studying harmful algal and cyanobacterial blooms (HABs and Cyano-HABs, respectively) in marine and freshwater ecosystems through the investigation of environmental DNA (eDNA) - the DNA around us. Additionally, the toxins produced by these algal and cyanobacterial blooms are quantified by our lab using the immunological method known as ELISA. Ultimately, we hope to develop a better understanding of the ecological, environmental and physiological factors that lead to these toxic bloom events. Other recently-funded projects, that build off of our eDNA work, include developing portable genetic solutions to detect harmful microbes for the aquaculture industry and resource managers, tracking a transmissible cancer in softshell clams, and uncovering the diet of North Atlantic right whales - via DNA analysis of their feces. Our newest work involves deploying genetic solutions to track microbes that are strongly-associated with human and animal waste - to provide data that will contribute to solutions for improving water quality.

  • David Fields

    Dr. Field's is a zooplankton ecologist. The Fields' laboratory studies the role of zooplankton (eg. Copepods, lobsters and cladocerans) in transferring organic matter through the food web and in mediating bio-geochemical cycling in the oceans. Our approach is to understand how the mechanisms that occur at the level of the individual animal drive regional and global scale distribution patterns in zooplankton. This work incorporates zooplankton ecology and physiology as well as data from small-scale fluid mechanics, neurophysiology and individual animal behavior. View lab page

  • Maya Groner

    The quantitative disease ecology lab explores the impacts of climate change on infectious disease in fish, shellfish and eelgrass using field surveys, lab experiments and models. This year's intern will participate in a research project to quantify the baseline disease prevalence of two pathogens in alewives. These pathogens, Ichthyophonus, and erythrocytic necrosis virus have previously been associated with mortality in clupeid fish, but their impact on alewives has not been quantified recently. The intern will assist with field sampling and dissections, lab-based measurements of infection using culture techniques and microscopy, and data curation and analysis.

  • Manoj Kamalanathan

  • Catherine Mitchell

    In the Marine Optics Lab, we use satellites to study the ocean. Our research spans both creating ocean color remote sensing methods to measure ocean biology and biogeochemistry, and applying remote sensing methods to study changes in marine ecosystems. There are several potential projects this summer, all will involve working with satellite data and doing computer-based research, however there will likely be opportunities for some lab-based work also. See our group webpage for more details about our ongoing projects.

  • Nicole Poulton

    The Poulton Lab studies phytoplankton ecology and more recently the role of mixotrophy in the oceanic carbon cycle. Dr. Poulton directs the Center for Aquatic Cytometry and uses flow cytometry to detect and enumerate cells of interest using field samples and cultured organisms. These flow cytometric tools use laser light to identify and separate cells of interest within mixed assemblages of particles (including both cells and detrital matter). For this upcoming 2024 summer season, the Poulton Lab will have openings for two REU interns that will focus on the role of mixotrophy and carbon acquisition (photosynthesis vs heterotrophy) of different mixotrophic cultures. In addition, the laboratory will testing a newly developed flow cytometer and how it can be used to identify and separate different phytoplankton groups within seawater and freshwater samples. The participants will learn different laboratory techinques including: phytoplankton culturing, data collection and analysis using flow cytometry.

  • Douglas Rasher

    The Rasher Lab studies shallow reef ecosystems, ranging from tropical coral reefs to subarctic kelp forests. Using field observations and collections, experiments, and models, Rasher and his team seek to reveal which processes govern reef function, as well as how such processes have changed, or are changing, due to human impacts (e.g., climate change, overfishing). The Rasher Lab REU intern in 2024 will be involved in one of several ongoing projects, all of which center on revealing the causes and consequences of abrupt state shifts in reef ecosystems. It is likely that this intern will be focused primarily on sample and/or image analysis, yet they may also have the oppurtunity to leverage larger datasets that have already been acquired from field observation. The intern will gain knowledge of reef ecosystems and experience in laboratory techniques that will be useful in a variery of life science careers.

  • José A. Fernández Robledo

  • Rachel Sipler

    Research in the Sipler lab focuses on issues important for Water and Human Health and including studies focusing on microplastics, nutrient pollution, carbon capture and community engagement. While there are several potential projects, we are specifically looking for at least one student who will join our microplastics team focusing on remediation using natural approaches and byproducts. Efforts include field and lab-based efforts in the midcoast Maine region.

  • Robin Sleith

    Our research is focused on the connectivity between freshwater and marine ecosystems, with an emphasis on the harmful algal species that can move between these systems. Summer 2023 research will be focused on understanding the impacts of freshwater cyanotoxins on downstream marine ecosystems. We will combine molecular detection of cyanobacteria species with toxin testing in bivalves to characterize the movement of cells and toxins into the marine environment.

  • Benjamin Twining

    The Twining lab studies the elemental composition of marine organisms and the role that micronutrient trace metals such as iron play in controlling ocean productivity. We have an opportunity for an intern to work on a project investigating the role of volcanic ash as a source of iron to the north Pacific Ocean. The project can emphasize biology (culturing of marine phytoplankton), chemistry (analysis of metals in seawater and volcanic ash), or data analysis (use of R to investigate large datasets of global iron availability), depending on the preference of the intern.

  • Reyn Yoshioka

    Reyn Yoshioka is a postdoctoral scientist in SRS Maya Groner's Quantitative Marine Disease Ecology Lab (QMoDEL). The REU working with Reyn will initiate a new project in the lab assessing shell disease of Jonah Crab (Cancer borealis) in Maine. The first component of the project will involve using quantitative photography to create a shell disease staging rubric for future disease monitoring. Additionally, we will together develop a second component based on the REU's interest, for example, investigating whether shell disease is related to crab physiological condition. The project should provide a mix of field sampling, lab work, and computer-based image/data analysis. The REU may also have some opportunities to participate in another QMoDEL project studying epizootic shell disease in American lobster.


An REU participant must be a current undergraduate student and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its possessions; international students and graduating seniors are not eligible for this program. An undergraduate student is defined as a student who is enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate or associate degree. Students who are transferring from one college or university to another and are enrolled at neither institution during the intervening summer may participate under certain circumstances. See the National Science Foundation's eligibility guidelines for more information.

Students from under-represented minorities as well as students with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should have, at minimum, one year of basic biology, have taken at least one earth or ocean science course, and be in good standing with their home institution. Most REU students will have completed two or three years of college and be majoring in earth science, environmental science, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics or engineering. Prior research experience is not required, but relevant coursework and enthusiasm for conducting independent research are important. We encourage applications from non-traditional students, as well as those attending community colleges.

Proof of COVID vaccination will be required to participate in the program.



  • Responses to the short answer questions form.
  • Names and email addresses for two references who will write a letter of recommendation, including at least one recent science instructor who can comment on your interest and commitment to self-motivated projects. Your references will be sent an automatic email to submit their letters using the online form once you submit your application. Letters must be submitted by February 15th.
  • PDF of your college transcripts (does not need to be official).

Once you have gathered the information above, please proceed to the application form. All application materials must be received by February 15th. Due to the high number of applications received each year, incomplete applications will not be reviewed. All application materials should be sent to Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences via the online application site. Please send questions to Do not submit applications to the National Science Foundation.

Students who are offered a position in the Bigelow REU program will be notified between March 15th - March 30th.
This REU site is funded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences.

Contact Information

REU Program
Dr. David Fields
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
East Boothbay, ME 04544 USA
(207) 315-2567, ext. 313

2024 Important Dates

  • Application Period: January 1 - February 15
  • Students Notified: March 15 - March 30
  • Program Dates: May 28 to August 2, 2024