MPL Summer Intern Research

MPL Interns on a Research Cruise

MPL Interns on a Research Cruise

Below you will find summaries of previous years' 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.

2018 Intern Research 

Faculty / Principal Investigator (PI) / Advisor

Intern Research Topic


Aspects of Intern Academic Background Intern Found Helpful During Their Internship

Intern Major

Andrew Lucas PI

A Turbulent Affair: The Epsilometer, the Wirewalker, and the Epsifish

Analyze data, write up processes / findings, build some of parts for epsilometer, help around lab where needed.

Basic knowledge of Matlab, understanding of basic physics relating to ocean dynamics (though what kind depends on your specific lab).

Physiology / Neuroscience

Dariusz Stramski PI

Investigation of Inherent Optical Properties of Seawater and Applications of Inverse Optical Models in the Arctic Ocean

My responsibilities included, but were not limited to, writing algorithms, validating algorithms, and applying algorithms to satellite data. My goal was to determine where these algorithms struggle and find out why they struggle. I really enjoyed the  independent experience I gained, as I would often find myself asking questions about why something doesn't work or why something happens, and then applying my knowledge and tools to discover answers to these questions.

Everything! From having strong communication skills to computer coding and everything in-between all skills I've learned through college coursework helped me succeed at SIO.


David Chadwell (PI)

Observing Marine Geophysics: GPS-Acoustic Measurements in the Cascadia Subduction Zone

My responsibilities included testing GPS equipment, assisting in research activities on cruises, small boat operations with the wave glider off of Scripps Pier, recording and editing GoPro footage, and data analysis of past years. 

I felt very confident in working with GPS data and surveying equipment because of my academic background. I also felt like I could critically think through problems to solve during my internship.

Geographic Information Science 

David Chadwell (PI)

Observing Marine Geophysics: GPS-Acoustic Measurements in the Cascadia Subduction Zone

Assisted research in measuring crustal deformation through seafloor mapping. Conducted testing to confirm repeatability and accuracy of instruments. Designed mission plan for unmanned ocean navigation vehicle.

My basic engineering and handywoman skills were helpful for testing equipment. Additionally, my data analysis skills in Excel and statistical knowledge were helpful. 

Environmental Engineering

Grant Deane PI

Using Bubble Noise to Measure the Melting Rate of Glacier Ice

I had my own project, trying to use bubble noise to measure the melting rate of glacier ice. My PI was very results-oriented, so I didn't have any day to day responsibilities, as long as I was productive.

I think nearly everything was learnable during the internship, as long as I was willing to put in the effort and not say "I don't have time to learn that." It was helpful that I knew a bit of Matlab and that I read up on bubble dynamics before coming. 


Hee-Chun Song PI

Snapping Shrimp Acoustics

Debugging a program and using it to process data involving snapping shrimp snaps.

Computer science.

Electrical Engineering and Physics

John Hildebrand PI / Natalie Posdaljian

A Tale of Two Gulfs: Comparing Weather, Anthropogenic, and Biological Sounds

I was responsible for going through LTSA files and verifying the ship detector for HARP deployments in the Gulfs of Mexico and Alaska.

My environmental studies background helped provide context for the work that I was doing, especially the courses I took related to marine biology. 

Environmental Studies

Jules Jaffe PI 

Measuring Current Velocity with Particle Image Velocimetry

Helped my grad student with his project. Learned a bit about the software , hardware and theoretical aspects of the project. I liked that I was able to be exposed to a lot of new things and gain many new skills. 

Signals and systems, linear algebra. 

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Marine Sceince

Jules Jaffe PI  / Paul Roberts

Surface Area Estimates Using SFM (Surface from Motion) 3D Modeling Techniques

I worked in a lab employing 3D modeling techniques to estimate coral surface area.

Physics, math, and computer science classes.


Ken Melville PI / Luc Lenain

Ocean Fronts Off Kaena Point

I worked mostly on organizing and visualizing and analyzing field data. This involved a lot of coding in MATLAB, a language I knew nothing about before I came, but was able to pick up fairly easily because of my previous coding experience with Python and C.

Programming (especially data visualization) and practice giving presentations.

Geophysical Sciences

Matthew Alford PI / Andrew Lucas PI / Michael Goldin

A Turbulent Affair: The Epsilometer, the Wirewalker, and the Epsifish

I helped create probes for the epsilometer and helped design things for my supervisors, engineers, and scientists in the lab whenever they needed a part or device made. After I designed those objects, I would use the tools provided in the lab to create them.

My design and structural engineering classes helped me with my understanding of devices and mechanisms that I was introduced to at work. They also helped me with my understanding of design processes.

Structural Engineering

Wiliam Hodgkiss PI

Measuring Sensitivity of Parameters Using Matched Field Processing

I was given the task to do matched field processing on the SWellEx-96 experiment data and then from there investigate the sensitivity of the matched field results as a parameter was varied.

Physics and computational science. 


Wiliam Hodgkiss PI

Shallow Water Passive Source Localization

Signal processing and analyzing ocean acoustic data.

Courses in digital signal processing, ordinary differential equations, physics (waves).

Math, Electrical Engineering

William Kuperman PI 

Designing a Strong 3D Printed Scaffold with a Low Structural Impedance

Designed and modeled 3D printed structures that hold MEMS microphones that surround a target object for acoustic experiments. Measured the acoustic signature of structures through sound experiments with analog microphones and matched field processing methods in MATLAB.

My major classes (Signals & Systems, Computational Methods with MATLAB, Mathematical Physics, etc.) gave me the background knowledge I needed to get started in my project since it involved wave interaction with structures and signal processing. Also, my project team experience prepared me with working with 3D printers as well as interacting with other people from different technical backgrounds in a project.

Mechanical Engineering

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.