The Coral Health and Disease program is located at two locations. If interested, please apply for Coral Health and Disease Program in your internship application, but specify one or several of the following program locations or projects in your statement of interest.

Diseases of Marine Invertebrates – Dr. Abigail Clark 

Approximately 97% of all animal species are invertebrates and it is estimated that several million additional invertebrate species are yet to be described. Likewise, the diversity of diseases of marine invertebrates is vast and growing. In 2000, Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) was identified as the causative agent of disease in the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus. PaV1 is the only known virus to naturally infect any species of lobster worldwide. My research interests involve various aspects of the disease ecology of PaV1, including interactions between this lethal virus and the marine environment. Recently, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), an emergent marine disease capable of infecting many species of Caribbean scleractinian corals, has wrought havoc along the Florida Reef Tract and in several other areas around the Caribbean region. Like PaV1, SCTLD is lethal and knowledge gaps around its natural history and ecology are numerous.

Interns participating in these projects will be based at the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration (IC2R3) located on Summerland Key, FL. Daily tasks will vary with each project, but will generally include basic laboratory maintenance (e.g., cleaning glassware, operating an autoclave), animal husbandry (e.g., maintaining tanks, monitoring water quality), and the processing of biological samples using molecular techniques (e.g., DNA extractions, qPCR). Lifting heavy objects (up to 50 lbs.) and snorkeling will occasionally be required. Student interns will have numerous and various opportunities for professional and academic development.

Interested applicants should indicate “Diseases of Marine Invertebrates” as their preferred program in their statements of interest.

Coral Resilience – Chelsea Petrik and Dr. Erinn Muller 

Primary responsibilities will consist of working in an outdoor wet lab system involving coral resilience research projects.  Primary duties often include completing daily water quality measurements, coral-based health assessments, and coral related husbandry. In addition, working within a dry Laboratory space to complete physiological assessments on corals may also occur. Opportunities to adopt a small project may also be possible if working with preserved samples when available. Applicants must be willing to learning new software/programs, as needed, and become familiar with current data entry protocols. Data analysis and data interpretation are a possibility, given prior experience. Some weekend work is required. Ideally a candidate would have knowledge of basic experimental sampling/design skills and basic animal husbandry methods.  Strong organizational, communication, and planning skills are critical. There will be opportunities to attend outreach and work-related events.

This non-paid internship positon is based in Summerland Key, Florida, USA. Working hours are full-time, approx. 9 am to 5 pm, with one hour lunch break. Some late hours and weekend work may be required.  Applicants must have a positive attitude while being self-motivated, reliable, and display strong core characteristics that would align with Mote Marine Laboratory’s mission. This position involves working in humid outdoor work spaces, maintaining high safety standards while in aquaria and within the Molecular/Microbiology Laboratory spaces at MML, and working closely with diverse backgrounds. The applicant should be prepared to multi task, think critically, and readily solve problems.

Interested applicants should indicate “Coral Resilience” as their preferred program in their statement of interest.

Coral Reproduction and Adaptation - Dr. Hanna R. Koch 

A major concern regarding the persistence of corals reefs in the face of climate change is whether stony corals can keep pace with unprecedented rates of environmental change. Better understanding the mechanisms underlying resistance and tolerance traits is important for being able to evaluate the adaptive potential of a population or species and harnessing the sexual cycle of corals allows access to a greater number of propagules and thus genetic diversity. Therefore, the objective of this research project is to investigate the genetic basis (heritability) of disease resistance in the threatened species, Acropora cervicornis (staghorn coral), by performing intraspecific controlled crosses and mesocosm experiments. Components of this project include fieldwork (diving and snorkeling), wet lab (fertilization, larval propagation, disease exposure and physiology assays), coral husbandry (larval settlement and sexual recruit rearing), dry lab (molecular analyses), and computer work (data entry and analysis). The overall goal of this work is to assist and accelerate naturally-occurring evolutionary processes for enhancing certain traits of interest and advancing resilience-based coral reef restoration strategies.

Another important part of this research deals with coral sexual propagation for the purpose of resilience-based restoration. This may involve setting up and maintaining in situ spawning nurseries, conducting in situ assessments of sexual maturation and spawning potential of restored populations, setting up and running an ex situ spawning induction system, performing fecundity analyses, and working with different coral species and reproductive modes.

This work is based at the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration (IC2R3) on Summerland Key, Florida. Interested interns may have a discrete skillset (e.g. coral husbandry) and assist with a specific portion of the project or a broad skillset (e.g. field and lab experience) and be involved with multiple aspects. Interested divers should preferably be AAUS certified. This project will include working under difficult field conditions (i.e. night operations during coral spawning), as well as occasional long days and weekends. Interns will become familiar with scientific literature, evolutionary concepts, experimental design, data analysis software, as well as have the opportunity to gain professional development in the form of written/oral communication and graduate school preparation.

Interested applicants should indicate “Coral Reproduction and Adaptation” as their preferred program in their statement of interest.