How to Apply

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.

2023 Mentors

  • Christoph Aeppli

    Dr. Christoph Aeppli is an environmental chemist who studies organic pollutants in the ocean.

    We use field measurements, laboratory experiments, and analytical tools to study how chemicals are transported and transformed in aqueous environments. The topics of the projects this year are

    1. Investigating how sunlight changes the composition and toxicity of petroleum hydrocarbons after an oil spill.
    2. Studying the distribution and bioaccumulation of forever-chemical (PFAS) in estuaries.

    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.

  • Julia Brown

    Roughly 50 million viruses are suspended within every teaspoon of seawater. The vast majority of these viruses infect microscopic organisms. Marine viruses play important roles in ocean biogeochemistry and microbial evolution. This internship provides an opportunity to utilize bioinformatics techniques to investigate fundamental questions about viruses that infect marine microbes using single cell genomics data.

  • José Fernandez-Robledo and Peter Countway

    Peter D. Countway and José A. Fernández Robledo laboratories (NSF-EEID: 2208081) Bivalve transmissible neoplasia (BTN) is a disease affecting bivalve populations. In this disease cancer cells jump from animal to animal, spreading from their original founder host through the ocean. Little is known about the mechanism of disease transmission, the natural history of epizootic events, development of resistance in populations, the effects of environmental changes, or their total effect on the ecosystem and aquaculture. The main goal for the summer project is to identify and test general principles and mechanisms of BTN transmission, focusing on soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) in Maine. The project will include sampling and diagnostic of the disease in clams and detection of the cancer cells in water samples using microscopy and RT-qPCR. This survey will be used for understanding the dynamics of the spread of disease through and between clam populations, the environmental and genetic factors that interact with this spread, and the effect on the ecosystem and aquaculture. You can read more information about the project here.

  • 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.

  • Doug Rasher

    The Rasher Lab studies shallow reef ecosystems, with a focus on identifying species and processes of ecological importance. Using field observations, experiments, and models, Rasher and his team seek to reveal which processes govern ecosystem function, and how such processes have changed, or are changing, due to human activity. There are potentially two REU opportunities in the Rasher Lab in 2023. One will leverage Rasher’s ongoing NSF-funded research on the American lobster, wherein the REU fellow will work with project PI's Eric Annis (Hood College), Jes Waller (DMR), Markus Frederich (UNE), and Rasher (Bigelow), as well as graduate student Aubrey Jane (UNE), to better understand the thermal tolerance limits of lobster larvae. The findings of this research will help to predict the shifting distribution of lobsters in a rapidly warming Gulf of Maine. The other opportunity will leverage Rasher's ongoing NSF-funded research in Gulf of Maine kelp forests, wherein the intern will work with Dr. Rasher and a postdoc to document how climate change is altering the ecology of this underwater habitat.

  • Manoj Kamalanathan

  • Catherine Mitchell

    In the Mitchell 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. The project this summer will be part of our Volcanic Blooms project, which is looking at the impacts of aged volcanic ash on phytoplankton in the north Pacific Ocean. In particular, the summer project will be focused on using ocean color remote sensing to study the response of the ocean ecosystem to volcanic ash. This will involve working with satellite data and computational modeling.

  • Nicole Poulton

  • Rachel Sipler

    Dr. Rachel Sipler is a biogeochemist with a background in environmental change, water pollution, and harmful algal blooms. This is a great opportunity to gain experience if you are considering a career in biology, chemistry, ecology, marine science or oceanography. A background in biology, chemistry or related field is beneficial but not required.

    Kelp and Microplastics
    This position will provide hands on laboratory experience investigating the potential for kelp to concentrate microplastics. Specific tasks may include field sampling, controlled laboratory experiments, testing new methods and quantifying the abundance of microplastics on kelp.

  • 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 anticipate two research intern opportunities in summer 2023. One project will focus on the element content of marine macroalgae (ie, seaweed), potentially for use as livestock feed or for marine carbon dioxide removal. Due to the funding, this opportunity is limited to a Colby College student. The second project will focus on the element content of marine microalgae (ie, phytoplankton). There are several possible projects related to the availability of iron and other micronutrients to phytoplankton, and the resulting elemental content of the phytoplankton. This project may include an opportunity to participate in an ocean research cruise.

  • LeAnn Whitney and Dave Ernst


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.

All students who are offered a position with the Bigelow REU have from March 15th to March 30th to accept or reject the offer. 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

2023 Important Dates

  • Application Period: January 1 - February 15
  • Students Notified: March 15 - March 30
  • Program Dates: May 21 to July 28, 2023