*Formerly Mote Research Experience for Undergraduates Program

We at Mote are scientists, explorers and stewards of the ocean. Focused on research and education, we work to create a better environment for ourselves and our families. The answers are in the ocean. Together, we will find them. 

For more about Mote, click here.

Join us for an online info session to learn more about the Mote Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) Program.   To register, click the available dates below.  

​Unable to attend either of the above info sessions? Submit your questions here


The Mote URE Summer season will run from May 26 - August 3, 2024.

Application deadline is February 15th. 

This program offers a residential research experience for undergraduates and is designed to provide hands-on opportunities to participate in scientific research under the mentorship of Mote scientists. Students gain experience in scientific research, science communication and attend research seminars and workshops on career skills. The experience gained through a Mote research internship will enhance both the knowledge and experience needed for entry-level employment as well as graduate studies within related fields. Interns will participate in scientific projects being conducted in their mentor’s area of expertise. The goal of this program is to broaden participation of historically underserved, underrepresented groups in marine STEM including underrepresented minorities. (Underrepresented minorities are African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders.) However, students of any race, ethnicity or identity are welcome to apply.


  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or its territories.
  • Currently enrolled* in a degree program (full-time or part-time) leading to a baccalaureate degree.
  • First-time URE participants. Priority will be given to students who have not completed an NSF URE internship program.
  • Available for the full duration of the program, from May 26 to August 3, 2024. For questions regarding scheduling conflicts, please see our URE FAQ page.

No former research or internship experience necessary.

Student participants will:

  • Be involved in scientific research projects under the direction of a Mote scientist.
  • Gain experience in planning and implementing research through involvement in on-going research projects.
  • Present a final poster or presentation.
  • Attend scientific research seminars presented by graduate students, post-docs or scientists from Mote, government agencies or universities.
  • Learn about opportunities for graduate study, careers in marine science, and communication skills in science by participating in student workshops.

Stipends, travel and housing information

Students participating in the Mote URE Program receive:

  • Earn a $6000 stipend over a 10 week period. 
  • Free housing in a local dormitory or a housing stipend. *Confirmed upon acceptance notification.
  • Financial support for travel expenses between Mote and their home institution.

Note: Provided dorms are off-campus so bringing a car is highly recommended. Public transportation between Mote and most local areas is available through a local bus system. Interns are responsible for providing or making arrangements for daily transportation to Mote.

Mote URE Application Process

Applicants must complete the online application form.  Select the Mote URE application and upload a one-to-two page Statement of Interest, a resume or CV, and unofficial transcript.  More detailed instructions for preparing and submitting these materials are provided on the application page. Applicants will be asked to select programs of interest within the application. Program descriptions are listed below. 

Click here for a preview of the application. For application tips, click here.


General Internship FAQs

Still unsure what to expect from an internship with Mote? Check out this video to hear directly from our interns and learn more!


Research Programs & Participating Mentors- Sarasota, FL

*Positions are located at Mote’s City Island campus unless otherwise specified.

Dr. Kirstie Francis, Molecular Microbiology

Our oceans are home to some of the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. This biodiversity translates to incredible chemical diversity, and the intense competition for resources observed in marine ecosystems promotes the evolution of secondary metabolites, or marine natural products. The new molecular microbiology research program under Dr. Francis will focus on identifying bioactive natural products from marine microorganisms. URE students in this program will be able to complete multidisciplinary projects involving microbiology, organic chemistry, and/or molecular biology. Responsibilities could include culturing activities to maintain and expand the Mote microbial library, development of microbial extracts, testing microbial extracts for a variety of biological activities, and purification of active compounds. Successful applicants should have completed coursework in microbiology or organic chemistry and demonstrate an interest in laboratory techniques. Prior lab experience is helpful but not required. Please note the majority of research activities are carried out at the Mote Aquaculture Park (MAP); a satellite site located in eastern Sarasota County, Florida, approximately 17 miles from the main laboratory. 

Dr. Jennifer Toyoda, Ecotoxicology Program

Mote's Ecotoxicology program studies how natural toxins and man-made chemicals affect the health of marine ecosystems, wildlife, and humans. Research projects seek to understand and to mitigate the harm caused by environmental contaminants. Ecotoxicology combines chemistry, biology, and ecology and interns may gain experience in performing chemical extractions, experimental exposures of marine organisms, red tide mitigation product testing, toxicity assays, molecular assays, and cell culture assays. Both wet lab and bench work will be required, field sampling may be involved. Please note the majority of research activities are carried out at the Mote Aquaculture Park (MAP); a satellite site located in eastern Sarasota County, Florida, approximately 17 miles from the main laboratory. 

John Langan, Ocean Technology Program

Join the Ocean Technology Program for an exciting journey into the world of cutting-edge marine science and technology! Our program harnesses innovative ocean technology to achieve interdisciplinary scientific objectives, emphasizing expertise in sensors, autonomous assets, field operations, and engineering. As a student in our program, you'll actively contribute to projects that impact our local coastal environment, such as routine environmental monitoring in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico using advanced autonomous underwater vehicles known as Slocum gliders. These high-tech tools relay crucial measurements via satellite, including temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll-a fluorescence, CDOM fluorescence, and particle backscatter. Our program is also at the forefront of ocean science by developing, producing, and deploying Programmable Hyperspectral Seawater Scanner (PHySS) instruments in coastal Southwest Florida. These instruments detect phytoplankton taxa, including the red tide-producing Karenia brevis. As a college student intern, you don't need any prior technical experience. We welcome students from diverse backgrounds, offering guidance and training from our Ocean Instrument technicians, engineers, and scientists. Your role will include maintaining and deploying Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), data interpretation, and active participation in advanced ocean instrumentation processes. This internship is a chance to explore ocean exploration, regardless of your technical background. Join us, and let your curiosity and enthusiasm drive your journey into marine science and technology!

Gretchen Lovewell, Stranding Investigations Program

This program responds to reports of marine mammal and sea turtle strandings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Live and dead cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and sea turtles are rescued and/or recovered and transported to Mote for rehabilitation or detailed post-mortem examination. The majority of the work is carcass recovery and necropsy, not rescue and rehabilitation. Interns will assist in responding to stranding calls, documenting stranding events and collecting samples and data.  Interns will also assist researchers and program staff with other projects, such as sample processing, assisting in the Ruth DeLynn Cetacean Osteological Collection and general maintenance of stranding equipment. URE interns will be expected to create, implement and present a research project. Successful students should "think outside of the box" and be creative and innovative. We encourage students to ask questions of collected data such as ‘how, when, why, where’ are animals affected by humans, what can be done to help conservation, or to ask anatomical, physiological, or life-history questions.

Dr. Jake Lasala, Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program

The Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program (STCRP) at Mote has documented sea turtle nesting trends on 35 miles of Sarasota, Florida beaches for over 40 years. Since 1982, STCRP has identified over 133,000 sea turtle crawls and estimated that nearly 3.4 million hatchlings have left these beaches. Dr. Lasala is creating and implementing research projects that focus on these nesters and their offspring to ask questions about behavioral shifts over time. The core of his projects focus on genetic proxies to identify how individual behavior affects these local and global species populations. URE students will primarily assist in the field at night to collect samples, but will also learn how to enter and work with raw data, genetic analysis techniques, and statistical techniques. This population of sea turtles is growing in the region and provides an excellent opportunity to ask novel and insightful questions moving forward.

Tom Waldrop and Dr. Jason Spadaro, Coral Restoration-Grazers

The Grazers team, part of the Coral Reef Restoration Research Program, focuses on ecological interactions that drive coral reef community composition and function. The team is primarily engaged in research involving reef herbivores and their functional role of removing algae from degraded reefs. At Mote Aquaculture Park, the Grazers team is developing and implementing methods for the mass production of Caribbean King Crabs, a promising native grazer, to support landscape scale coral reef restoration efforts in the Florida Keys and throughout the wider Caribbean region. Interns will gain valuable and transferable skills and hands-on experience in marine invertebrate husbandry, aquaculture production of invertebrates and algae, water quality and chemistry monitoring, and laboratory research. Participants will have numerous opportunities to participate in hands-on data collection including snorkeling in large aquaculture tanks to help monitor and manage the animals in culture. Participants must be able to lift heavy objects up to 70 pounds. We are looking for enthusiastic and engaged individuals who are seeking to gain experience and knowledge in the fields of aquaculture, ecology, and life support system operations. Please note the majority of research activities are carried out at the Mote Aquaculture Park (MAP); a satellite site located in eastern Sarasota County, Florida, approximately 17 miles from the main laboratory. 

Nick McMahon and Dr. Sara Williams, Coral Gene Bank

Mote’s International Coral Gene Bank is designed to be a safe haven for corals from Florida’s coral reef and Caribbean reefs, with eventual expansion into the Indo-Pacific regions of the world.  The ultimate goal is to hold interesting genotypes of multiple species in triplicate; one copy of each genotype into three separate systems for complete redundancy. Please note the majority of research activities are carried out at the Mote Aquaculture Park (MAP); a satellite site located in eastern Sarasota County, Florida, approximately 17 miles from the main laboratory. 

Dr. Vince Lovko, Phytoplankton Ecology Program  

Projects under this program will focus on the biology and ecology of phytoplankton, typically with an emphasis on the red-tide dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis. Projects may include laboratory and/or field-based studies exploring population and bloom dynamics, species interactions, or phytoplankton community composition and species distribution. URE students will have opportunities to learn aspects of phytoplankton culture, identification and enumeration, bioassay techniques, light and fluorescent microscopy, field sampling of phytoplankton communities and data analysis techniques.  

Dr. Katie Flowers, Ray Biology and Conservation

Dr. Flowers’ research seeks to fill fundamental biological and ecological knowledge gaps for rays in order to contribute to management and conservation. Her focus is on understanding the anthropogenic and environmental threats to ray populations and finding ways to mitigate or eliminate those threats without negatively impacting livelihoods. At Mote, we are building baselines for benthic rays in Florida and Belize to use for long-term abundance monitoring. Through standardized catch-and-release programs and baited remote underwater video station surveys, we can assess the possible impacts of fisheries regulations, human pressures, and environmental conditions on ray abundance. The successful intern applicant will have a general interest in any aspect of fish biology, fish behavior, fish ecology, fisheries, and/or conservation. Previous lab or field experience are not required and applicants from backgrounds other than biology are encouraged to apply.

Morgan Jewell and Amanda Felix, Aquarium Sciences and Animal Care

Fish & Invertebrate Department URE students should have an interest in all aspects of the science of caring for public aquarium exhibits. Interns will gain hands-on experience and knowledge of what the daily routine is of an Aquarium Biologist. As Aquarium Biologists at an AZA-accredited facility, we are constantly improving our animal care and breeding techniques. The Aquarium currently breeds over 10 different species of fish and invertebrates, including jellies, cleaner shrimp, and seahorses. Daily duties for URE students will include cleaning exhibits and behind-the-scenes areas, preparing food and feeding, testing water quality parameters, maintaining life support systems, making exhibit/animal observations and keeping accurate records.This URE will focus on aquarium exhibit maintenance and requires the completion and presentation of an independent research project that will explore questions centered around fish or invertebrate aquaculture techniques, animal enrichment and welfare, or live food culturing procedures. Applicants must be able to lift 40 pounds and be able to tolerate the flora, fauna and humidity of southwest Florida. Applicants should expect to spend the majority of the workday walking, standing, bending, squatting, crouching, and lifting. This internship will involve climbing and working from ladders, as well as working with wet hands, feet, and clothes every day.

This program deals primarily with bony fishes (teleosts), sharks and stingrays, and invertebrates (including corals, jellies, shrimp, octopus, and cuttlefish). The Fish and Invertebrate Department does NOT work with sea turtles or marine mammals.


Research Programs & Participating Mentors- Summerland Key, FL

Katie Bozza and Dr. Jason Spadaro, Coral Restoration-Grazers

The Grazers team, part of the Coral Restoration team, focuses on ecosystem level interactions, primarily researching herbivores and their ability to remove algae from degraded reefs. Another goal of the Grazers team is to develop the best methods for culturing Caribbean King Crabs. During this internship, the participants will gain skills for herbivore husbandry, working primarily with crabs and urchins, and will be responsible for daily husbandry. They will also gain hands-on research experience studying larval development, aquaculture practices, and species interactions. This internship will involve field work, primarily snorkeling from shore and from boat. Participants must be competent swimmers, able to work in adverse weather conditions, and able to lift 50 pounds. Participants may have to work outside of the regular work week. We are looking for enthusiastic individuals who want to build their husbandry knowledge and gain research experience. 

Ian Combs and Dr. Jason Spadaro, Coral Restoration

Mote's Coral Restoration Program focuses on large-scale propagation of corals in a land-based nursery to support ongoing research and restoration. Most of the work conducted by interns at the land-based coral culture facility involves daily coral husbandry (handling coral fragments to remove algae and other fouling organisms) and basic aquaculture maintenance duties (cleaning tanks and seawater systems). However, duties may also include hands-on propagation of corals using Mote's "micro-fragmentation" technique, and assisting with experiments aimed at improving propagation methods. Depending on the time of year and the participants experience with prior fieldwork, participants may have the opportunity to assist staff with transplanting corals to restoration sites during outplanting efforts, or observe staff during monitoring of previously outplanted corals. Opportunities for fieldwork will be limited to snorkeling only.

Dr. Hanna Koch, Coral Reproduction 

The Coral Reproduction team focuses on several facets of coral reproduction for research and restoration including assisted sexual reproduction, managed breeding and optimizing ex-situ coral sexual propagation processes. Work may include research projects related to optimizing fertilization, settlement and post-settlement survival rates for various stony coral species, assessing genotypic (in)compatibilities, in- and/or ex-situ spawning, rearing sexual recruits and grow-out, fragmentation, general coral husbandry, maintaining spawning nurseries, and assisting with fieldwork. This work is based at the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration (IC2R3) on Summerland Key, Florida. SCUBA diving as part of the internship is not always guaranteed. The internship includes working under challenging conditions outside, late nights, long days and weekends during coral spawning season. Professional development activities may include scientific literature review, experimental design, data analysis, honing written/oral communication skills and graduate school preparation.

Dr. Emily Hall, Ocean Acidification Program  

The Ocean Acidification program at the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration (IC2R3) focuses on characterizing the physiological effects of changing ocean chemistry on marine organisms found within coral reef and coastal ecosystems. While at the IC2R3 located in Summerland Key, Florida, interns will participate in designing, setting up, and maintaining experiments within our state of the art outdoor Climate and Acidification Ocean Simulator (CAOS) water system. Interns will gain experience in coral and marine organism husbandry, in addition to learning techniques for measuring and analyzing seawater carbonate chemistry, water quality, and animal physiology. Research activities will vary depending on parameters of current and future projects, but may concentrate on photosynthetic/respiratory rates, calcification rates, and/or photochemical efficiency. Interns will become familiar with the complex relationships and interactions between ocean pH, temperature, dissolved inorganic carbon, and alkalinity of seawater through collaborative experimentation and scientific literature review/discussion.


This position may be available for the summer (May-August) or fall (July-October). If applying for this program, please include in your cover letter if you are available for the summer, fall or both.  

Apply now!


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