MPL Summer Intern Research

Interns assemble in advance of one-day cruise on research vessel Sproul

Interns assemble in advance of one-day cruise on research vessel Sproul

Below you will find a summary of last summer’s intern research topics.  More information about MPL scientists’ research topics and projects is available from You can also search the Internet or other sources for the names of MPL scientists whose work interests you to see if there are other websites with more information concerning them, what they’re working on, and names of other MPL scientists with whom they’re working.


2017 Intern Research 

Faculty / Principal Investigator (PI) / Advisor

Intern Research Topic


Aspects of Intern Academic Background Intern Found Helpful During Their Internship

Intern Major

Ana Sirovic PI

Fish, Camera, Action: Identifying Chorusing Fish Species in the La Jolla Kelp Forest

Develop and test the hardware and software to create a camera timelapse, then begin extending that project further towards the goal of creating a sensor-actuator relationship between a hydrophone array and a Sony camera.

My hardware/software knowledge was helpful but didn't completely align with what I was doing. Most of my engineering education did not help me at all except that I have a lot of experience problem solving.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Ana Sirovic PI

Detecting Life: A Two-Stage Threshold Detector For Fish Calls in the Gulf of Mexico

Helped a graduate student with data collection for research project on fish in the Cayman Islands. Halfway through, transitioned to my own project of using a detector and convolutional neural network classifier to detect and classify fish calls in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the BP oil spill.

Experience with MATLAB data processing was definitely beneficial to the work I did.

Mechanical Engineering

Ana Sirovic (PI) / Jack Butler

Chorusing Fish in the La Jolla Kelp Forest: 2015 - Present

I spent my time 50/50: computer lab and field work. At the computer I was looking at existing acoustic data and logging 4 different scenarios manually when I encountered them over 3 years of data. In the field I was using my experience as a scientific scuba diver to deploy instruments (hydrophone arrays, underwater camera) in the kelp forest off La Jolla.

Scientific SCUBA certification, basic understanding of marine biology, introductory physics classes.

Marine Biology, Business Management Economics

Bill Hodgkiss PI

Data Processing of the SWELLEX-96 Experiment

Responsibilities included reading and programming.



Bill Hodgkiss PI

Investigating Geoacoustic Properties of Seabed Sediments Offshore Rhode Island

Responsible for effectively learning about digital signal processing and ocean acoustics from texts and lecture materials provided by my PI. I then applied those principles to plotting the spectral content of acoustic data, and modeling the acoustic waveguide based on measured qualities of the environment, especially seabed sediments.

My physics, physics lab, math and geophysics classes were helpful because I had some idea of the background and basis of my work coming in. Especially helpful was my note-taking habits that I developed in physics lab, so that I would have detailed records of everything I did each day, which made it easy to pick up where I left off.


Dariusz Stramski PI

Determinations of the Volume Scattering Function and Depolarization Ratio of Pure Seawater

Participation in laboratory experiments to measure multi-angle light scattering of pure seawater with DAWN instrument and determine the dependence of depolarization ratio of pure seawater on salinity of water. Development of improved data processing code and its use to analyze light scattering data collected with DAWN.

Research experience, familiarity with the math, being a physics major.


Dave Chadwell PI

Analyzing the State of Fault Locking on the Frontal Thrust of the Cascadia Subduction Zone

Monitoring wave glider power status, piloting website, learning to operate components of wave glider, understand the goal and methods of our project, launched WG off coast of Newport, Oregon, and retrieved it.

Some of my previous geologic knowledge helped me to understand the process of how tectonics move and what we're trying to accomplish from this research.


Eric Terrill PI / Megan Cimino / Sophia Merrifield

Phytoplankton Blooms and the Diurnal Warm Layer in Southern California

Used MATLAB to analyze data from the Langmuir cruise, specifically looking at wind and chlorophyll data.

My coding background was especially helpful since most of my work was in MATLAB

Environmental Engineering

Eric Terrill PI / Sophia Merrifield

Characteristics of Equilibrium-Range Wave Spectra From Buoys and Autonomous Surface Vehicles

Worked on understanding surface wave physics from a dataset collected over a three week cruise. I was coding / investigating and also helped build wave buoys.

Physics, previous research experience, CS & CODING!!!

Physics / Astronomy

Eric Terrill PI / Megan Cimino

Identifying and Understanding Fishing Activity in the South Pacific

Worked on the project provided and prepared updates and presentations within my lab as well for the formal internship program.

Background knowledge. Coding ability. Previous at sea experience.

Biology and Earth and Ocean Science

Heechun Song PI

investigating the Spectral Characteristics of Snapping Shrimp

Frequently met with a graduate student in my lab and did various processing of acoustic data. Worked primarily on looking at changes over time by testing individual time slots.

My ability to use MATLAB was very useful for my internship.

Applied Mathematical Sciences

Jules Jaffe PI

Micro Flow Over Fish Scales

Worked on developing and validating our experimental setup, coded, adapted, and tested analysis for experimental use, gathered data, and analyzed results. Basically a mini-slice of the scientific process.

Programming experience, background in math should include linear algebra and at least calculus for physics-oriented work

Applied Physics

Ken Melville PI / Luc Lenain

Finding Stokes' Drift of Deep Water Solitons

Was able to devise my own experiment (under significant guidance) and conduct tests in the wave tank of the Hydraulics Lab. Lab experiments were supplemented by lots of reading and signal processing.

I found the knowledge from my Mathematical Physics and Circuits classes to be unexpectedly useful. This internship reinforced the idea that I should learn more math (which doesn't get reinforced that often in daily life).

Engineering Physics

Matthew Alford PI / Andrew Lucas PI

Time of Flight: Measuring Water Current Velocity With Ultrasonic Transducers

Responsible for testing and calibrating time to digital converters and ultrasonic transducers which would be used to make a water velocity sensor. In addition to working with the electronics, was also responsible for CADing and machining test equipment and for helping out with general lab tasks.

My engineering background was a huge help during my internship, but my past experiences on extracurricular project teams were just as helpful, if not more helpful, than my classes. As a part of my project teams, I gained the skills and hands-on experiences that really helped me to thrive in an actual engineering environment. In particular, having prior programming, CADing, and soldering experience helped immensely, though I'm sure I would have been fine without these skills too. Everyone in the lab was more than willing to teach me the skills that I needed.

Electrical Engineering

Matthew Alford PI / Gunnar Voet PI

Abyssal Transport Through the Samoan Passage

My job was to take data given to us by JPL/NASA that came from the MIT general circulation model and analyze it using MATLAB. I would extract different sections of the data for an area in the Samoan Passage, do various calculations such as velocity sections and volume transports. I would also make plots to visualize the data.

Knowledge of physical oceanography, data analysis, MATLAB, calculus, physics


Simone Baumann- Pickering PI / Alba Solsona Berga

Classifying Sound in the Gulf of Mexico

Responsible for going through spectrograms, verifying ship detections and making sure that natural vs anthropogenic sounds were correctly labeled.

Physics, general science background, and understanding the scientific process

Organismal Biology

Simone Baumann- Pickering PI / Ana Sirovic PI

Spacial and Temporal Patterns of Cetacean Sounds in the Antarctic

Mostly logged data (different types of whale sounds) using Triton and MATLAB, pretty reasonable responsibilities because I am a biology major, rather than physics or engineering.

I am a biology major which was very useful in the bioacoustics lab because I had a solid foundation in ecology which is one of their main focuses. It helped me when analyzing my data for my presentation.

Biological Sciences, B.S.