Since 2003, Mote Marine Laboratory has been a host site for the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. The Mote REU Program offers paid research training experiences in estuarine science to 10 undergraduate students during a 10-week period between May and late July. REU participants are paired with Mote scientists and conduct mentored research projects related to their advisor's expertise. Students gain experience in science communication by presenting the results of their project in a manuscript-style research paper and orally at a laboratory-wide research symposium. Participants attend research seminars and workshops on career skills in science. Students may also have the opportunity to present their research findings at professional conferences.

The Mote REU Program offers paid research training experiences in estuarine science to 10 undergraduate students per year.



  • Conduct mentored research projects under the direction of a Mote scientist.

  • Gain experience in the development of research plans by completing a research proposal.

  • Gain experience in scientific writing by completing a "manuscript-style" final research paper.

  • Gain experience in oral presentation of scientific data by presenting their research results in a laboratory-wide poster presentation.

  • Attend research seminars on ocean science presented by graduate students from several Florida universities.

  • Learn about opportunities for graduate study, careers in marine science, and communication skills in science by participating in student workshops.



Summer 2017 applications have closed.  Please check back in January when the Summer 2018 application opens.


Research Programs & Participating Mentors

Please note: The specific project each REU student will undertake will be determined after the student's acceptance.

The following mentors will be participating in the 2017 REU session:

Dr. Emily Hall, Ocean Acidification Program  

This program focuses on effects of ocean acidification (OA) and climate change (CC) on marine organisms and their ecosystems. Potential projects include the effects of OA and CC on corals, bivalves, or other important marine organisms. REU students will predominantly be working with one of two OA and CC testing facilities, assisting with field collection of samples, data entry, and laboratory analysis. Some travel to the Summerland Key field station might be required. Students with a chemistry background preferred. One student will be selected for this research experience.

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. REU 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. Students with basic laboratory experience are preferred. One student will be selected for this research experience.

Dr. Erinn Muller, Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Program 

This program focuses on coral reef ecology, specifically the impact of diseases on coral reef assemblages. Coral disease is one of the greatest threats to reefs around the world. The project involves the use of spatial epidemiology - the study of where and when disease outbreaks occur - to further understand the environmental and ecological parameters that may influence coral-disease activity. Students must be comfortable spending a significant amount of time on the computer, as much of the time will be spent analyzing photographs and data. Students should also be strong swimmer/comfortable in water in day and night. Prefer students who are SCUBA certified; familiar with GIS; familiar with command-driven computer programs such as R and Matlab; and have basic biological statistics skills. One student will be selected for this research experience.

Dr. Jordon Beckler, Ocean Technology Program

This program uses and develops technology for detecting, monitoring, and understanding Harmful Algal Blooms and their associated toxins using Optical Phytoplankton Discriminators (OPD), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), or in situ High-Performance Liquid Chromatographs (HPLC). The intern should be prepared to participate in field deployment and recovery operations, analyze data collected by fixed and moving oceanographic platforms, and interpret these data in the context of coastal shelf dynamics. The opportunity also exists to improve these detection technologies; specifically, by improving the sensitivity and specificity of optical and chemical detection methods for phytoplankton discrimination or brevetoxin determination. With time and interest, the intern may also contribute to the design of new ocean technology outreach programs for high-school teachers and students. Experience in oceanography, chemistry, biology, or electrical or computer engineering is a must.

Dr. Cathy Walsh, Marine Immunology Program

The Marine Immunology Program focuses on basic and applied immunological research with marine animals ranging from cartilaginous fishes to marine mammals. Basic research efforts contribute to a better understanding of comparative vertebrate immune function as well as phylogenetic insights into human immunity, while applied studies provide unique information helpful in assessing immune health of wild populations of marine animals, including marine mammals, exposed to a variety of environmental stressors. REU students will participate in laboratory-based research projects on immune function in sharks, skate, or other marine wildlife such as manatees or turtles. REU students will be involved with laboratory procedures such as cell culture, microtiter plate-based assays, gel electrophoresis, ELISA, western blotting, PCR or flow cytometry. One student will be selected for this research experience.

Gretchen Lovewell, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Strandings Investigation Program 

This program provides response 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.  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.

Dr. Katie McHugh, Sarasota Dolphin Research Program

The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) focuses on understanding structure and dynamics of small cetacean populations as well as how natural and anthropogenic factors affect these populations.  REU students will participate in SDRP’s long-term studies focused on monitoring local dolphin communities and their prey.  REU students may assist with monthly field projects but should also expect to spend time in the lab working with data and photographs.  Specific projects will be determined based on student interests and current research priorities.   For more information about the SDRP, please visit:

Dr. James Locascio, Fisheries Habitat Ecology & Acoustics Program

This research program incorporates a variety of methods in partnership with other scientists to create innovative approaches to studying reproductive dynamics of fishes and juvenile populations. The principal technology used is acoustics and signal processing. Because fishes produce sound associated with courtship and spawning, acoustic recorders can be used to identify the timing and location where fish reproduce. This has important implications for conservation measures including the establishment of marine protected areas and other conservation strategies. A combination of acoustic methods is used to investigate the behavior of animals and sound underwater including passive acoustics, acoustic tags and receivers and SONAR. A variety of engineering approaches and genetics are complementary to this program’s research and creative thinking is encouraged! 

Dr. L. Kellie Dixon, Chemical and Physical Ecology Program

The program emphasizes optical properties and natural and anthropogenic nutrients and the combined influence on primary production and valued ecosystems such as seagrass.  In the spring a 2017 a new program funded by EPA will be examining nutrient biogeochemistry in tidal creeks of southwest Florida.  Associated fieldwork of EPA and Mote researchers will be measuring sediment nutrient flux, estimating watershed loads, examining in-stream processes, and determining nutrient contributions from contiguous wetlands in order to manage these important habitats for numerous estuarine species.

Dr. Nathan Brennan, Integrated Fisheries & Aquaculture Programs

High demands on fisheries production and habitat degradation place increasing stress on fisheries resources. Innovative and proactive solutions to conserve and protect these resources are a high priority.  The aquaculture and fisheries enhancement programs share many common goals and seek to alleviate pressures on wild stocks and resources.   Projects include aquaculture and fisheries components of stock enhancement measures such as developing sustainable integrated multi-trophic aquaculture systems, evaluating optimal rearing and conditioning technology for stocked species, evaluating wild stocks and fish communities in relation to habitat quality and production capability.  REU students will be based at the Mote Aquaculture Research Park and will engage in aquaculture-based experiments and daily logistics, but also gain experience in the field with estuary sampling and species identification.  Students are expected to spend time with database entry and assist with analysis & reporting of experiments.



To be eligible for the Mote REU Program, students must be:

  • 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 REU participants. If you have already completed an NSF REU internship, you will not be considered for the program.

  • Available for the full duration of the program, from May 20th-July 29th.

*Students may NOT have already graduated at the time of their REU internship.

In addition, applicants should:

Possess a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4-point scale).
Make efforts to receive academic credit for participation in the REU Program.

NSF is particularly interested in increasing the numbers of women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities in research. Members of these groups, as well as veterans of the U.S. Armed Services, are strongly encouraged to apply for the REU Program.  (Underrepresented minorities are African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders.)


Stipends, travel and housing information

Students participating in the Mote REU Program receive:

  • $5,000 stipend over the 10-week period
  • Free housing in a local dormitory
  • Financial support for travel expenses between Mote and their home institution


Application Procedure

Applicants must complete the online application form and upload a one-to-two page Statement of Interest, a resume or CV, and unofficial transcript. Applicants must also request two letters of recommendation which must be uploaded directly by their recommenders. More detailed instructions for preparing and submitting these materials are provided on the application page.


Email your questions to

Note: All students who are offered a position at this REU Site have until March 15th or later to accept or reject the offer. This REU Site is funded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences.