Note: For summer 2021, we are planning in-person research experiences. However, these decisions are based on local safety and health regulations due to COVID-19. If necessary, this site may convert to a remote program or be canceled entirely.

About REGS:

  • Application deadline: August 16.
  • Eligibility: Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and currently enrolled in a graduate degree program (full-time or part-time) leading to a master's or Ph.D. degree.
  • Participants receive a $10,000 stipend throughout the duration of the program.
  • Mote’s Research Experience for Graduate Students has funded two graduate research internship positions annually since 2019.  

One positions available for fall 2021 in the following research area:

Option 1: Forensic DNA with Rhino Rays

Project title: Developing forensic DNA tools to deploy along the world’s largest dried fin supply chain to combat illegal trade of critically endangered rhino rays: giant guitarfish and wedgefish.

Project objective: To design, optimize and validate a real time PCR test that is field-ready for border control personnel to deploy in Indonesia and China to detect illegal trade of rhino ray fins.

Project methods & graduate student role: This project will consist of three steps: (1) design a PCR primer set that will putatively amplify all rhino rays to the exclusion of all other species, (2) test and optimize the primer set on tissue samples from multiple individuals of rhino rays from as many species as possible to validate it is reliable and diagnostic for these species, and (3) demonstrate that these primers never amplify non-rhino ray species in the fin trade (i.e., sharks). Step 1 is completed and the graduate student would be expected to conduct steps 2 and 3 in the laboratory following training.

Anticipated project outcomes: This project will result in one journal publication documenting these diagnostic primers and (potentially) a field-trial in Hong Kong or Indonesia. Journals that have accepted my articles of this nature in the past include Scientific Reports, Conservation Genetics, Biological Conservation and Animal Conservation. At minimum, the graduate student would be invited to be a co-author. More likely and if their performance warranted it, they would be offered lead authorship. The protocol developed in this project would be provided to border control personnel through funded implementation workshops in Hong Kong (facilitated by the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department) and Indonesia (facilitated by the Wildlife Conservation Society) planned for late 2021/early 2022.

How to apply

Please visit and select the Research Experience for Graduate Students Program.

Applicants will receive notification by late April.


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