The type of research we conduct often requires a significant amount of manpower, making volunteers a critical and integral part of our research program. Our volunteers are primarily UCSC undergraduates and graduate students from nearby institutions, but we are open to help from members of the public as well. Our volunteers help with a wide variety of tasks and projects, including data collection and sample processing both in the field and in the lab.

Open Volunteer Opportunities

Getting set up

Elephant Seal Research

At the moment we are not actively recruiting volunteers, but check back for opportunities in the future.

Other Research

At the moment we are not actively recruiting volunteers, but check back for opportunities in the future.

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering is a unique opportunity for individuals to gain first-hand experience with active research.  There are numerous benefits and opportunities, including training and experience with new techniques, networking, independent research, and publication.  For undergraduates considering graduate school, volunteering in an active lab can be invaluable in helping you apply to schools successfully.

Examples of Volunteer Activities

Northern elephant seal flipper tag resighting
Northern elephant seal satellite tag deployment and recovery procedures
Bomb calorimetry sample processing to determine energy content of prey
Compiling Southern Ocean isotope data
Calculating diet composition for marine mammals

Volunteer Training

Volunteers often do not come in with the skill set needed for many of these activities.  We provide training in safety, lab and field techniques, and good practices for handling data for all of our volunteers.

Senior Research Projects

Undergraduate volunteers may have the opportunity to pursue independent senior research projects.  Occasionally these projects lead to publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Some past research projects include:

  • Jesse Cole (2019) – Detecting implantation in northern elephant seals using blood progesterone
  • Adam Taylor (2016)
  • David Krucik (2015)
  • Samantha Spurlin (2015) – Northern elephant seal stable isotopes:  Spurlin, Samantha M., et al. “Nitrogen and carbon stable‐isotope ratios change in adult northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) during the breeding and molting fasts.” Marine Mammal Science 2 (2019): 707-717.
  • Roxanne Beltran (2013) – Northern elephant seal whisker growth rates: Beltran R.S., Sadou M.C., Condit R., Peterson S.H., Reichmuth C., & Costa D.P. (2015). Fine-scale whisker growth measurements can reveal temporal foraging patterns from stable isotope signatures. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 523: 243-253.