MPL Summer Intern Research

Collage of MPL interns doing and presenting their research

2019 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 The Design Process: Epsi-fish, APEX(Autonomous Profiling Explorer), and Wirewalker Designing new components for the lab and redesigning components on instruments; designing and prototyping instrumentation components.   Mechanical Engineering
Andrew Lucas The Design Process: Epsi-fish, APEX(Autonomous Profiling Explorer), and Wirewalker CAD designing, machining, and making products. For example, the lab would need a new design for an instrument, so I would begin designing what was wanted and follow through all the way to the final product. My previous CAD experience and MAE 3 course was the most helpful during the internship because there were many design projects that required the efficient process of starting with ideas to producing prototypes and actual final products. In addition, basic communication and team work skills were helpful. Environmental Engineering
Andrew Lucas The Design Process: Epsi-fish, APEX (Autonomous Profiling Explorer), and Wirewalker The Multiscale Ocean Dynamics Lab generally has a lot of projects going on.  During my summer I was tasked with redesigning a component for a big probe that falls through the water while taking measurements.  I had to model concepts in 3D CAD software, fabricate prototypes, and test them, all the while tackling design and manufacturing challenges. MAE 3 was helpful because I'm working in a lab that has a lot of design based projects going on. MAE 3 is a course that has a major project that taught me some things that are important when designing components / instruments. Mechanical Engineering
Dariusz Stramski Optimization and Evaluation of Inverse Models for Estimating the Inherent Optical Properties of Seawater from Ocean Reflectance Measurements Learning how the inherent optical properties of seawater describing the light absorption and scattering can be estimated from inverse models using the input data from ocean reflectance measurements and how the total absorption coefficient of seawater can be partitioned into contributions associated with phytoplankton and non-phytoplankton constituents of seawater. Working on inverse reflectance and absorption partitioning models to optimize the computer codes and evaluate the performance of models by comparing model-derived results with field data. Programming skills, background in physics. Computational Physics
David Chadwell Monitoring the Subduction Rate of the Cascadia Subduction Zone Using GPS-A Learning how to operate and troubleshoot wave glider technology, create and organize binders for field work testing, operate equipment and software such as: wave glider, wave glider management system, iWand, Dunker system, transponder recoveries, various tests, etc Non-academic working skills. Geology
David Chadwell Monitoring the Subduction Rate of the Cascadia Subduction Zone Using GPS-A Myself and the other intern in our lab were responsible for assisting our PI in troubleshooting any problems that arose with the machine we were working on. We were given various tasks by the PI each day and either worked on our own or worked with them to solve these problems. We also helped in organizing files and papers that would be needed for the sea trip that we took. While on the sea trip we were also responsible for helping to launch the wave glider, which was the machine we were working on, and collecting data. Any experience I had with computers or electronics or computer software was very helpful in the internship. It was also helpful being a somewhat organized person; there were many tasks that involved organizing files on the computer and keeping track of various papers or information. Basic engineering skills or just knowing how to operate simple tools was helpful but not necessary.  Environmental Management and Protection
Eric Terrill Using Machine Learning to Predict Wave Glider Speed Developed a machine learning model (neural network in Python using environmental parameters to estimate speed of autonomous surface vehicle), engineered a charging deckbox (solidworks, flowsim, and actually building it) . Coding ability was the most important skill going into this. Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science
Grant Deane Arctic Expedition: Svalbard 2019 Traveled to the Arctic to perform glaciology research for a month, and upon returning was tasked with designing a research buoy. My PI tailored my tasks to fit the engineering knowledge I have accumulated. Mechanical Engineering
John Hildebrand Foraging Behavior of Gulf of Mexico Bryde Whales Worked on finding a strategy to better analyze data and interpret it.  My advanced mechanics and calculus classes. I wish I came in knowing how to code.  Physics 
Jules Jaffe Characterizing Bacterial Motility Using the Moore Microscope  Tracked particles from images I took using a microscope in our lab. Programming skills. Physics
Kaitlin Frasier Foraging Behavior of Gulf of Mexico Bryde Whales     Mechanical Engineering
Ken Melville / Luc Lenain Deep Water Breaking Wave Statistics  Sought to measure certain statistics of deep water wave breaking. Had some guidance on this, but all of the drive to complete it was self-driven. Any experience with coding helped, and in addition things I studied in previous Earth Science classes like wave motion. Physics (concentration in Earth Science)
Sean Wiggins Building the Series 10 Hydrophone     Mechanical Engineering
Sean Wiggins Building the Series 10 Hydrophone Prototype and build a hydrophone that combines the concepts of the two current types: oil filled and potted.  We started with micro-soldering components onto a PCB and then checked all the test points and calibrated it.  We then came up with a new design and learned how to pot wires/cables in clear urethane so the system would be watertight.  After assembling everything and checking connections, we ran a series of tests and compared the results to the current hydrophones to determine what aspects of this design were better and which ones were worse and then worked on fixing the ones that were worse. I don't think anything I learned in school helped me for this internship, but what I have learned in this internship will definitely help me in school Mechanical Engineering
Simone Baumann-Pickering  / Natalie Posdaljian Exploring Sperm Whale Population Demography in the Eastern North Pacific through Passive Acoustic Monitoring  Performed analysis on acoustic data obtained from HARP devices. Studied sperm whale clicks and classifying the sex of the animal from ICI and IPI. Most of the tasks that I performed in this internship, I had no previous background in before, e.g using Matlab programs etc.  Having a general background knowledge on marine mammals as well as how to read and annotate academic journals was helpful. General Biology
Simone Baumann-Pickering  / Natalie Posdaljian Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) and the detection of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in Antarctica Processed a lot of data from HARP deployments in Antarctica using passive acoustic monitoring to detect sperm whales and other cetaceans. Previous research experience, both with whale acoustics and with the general reality of research. It isn't always as glamorous as it seems to be.  Environmental and Sustainability Sciences
William Hodgkiss Matched Field Processing with SWellEx-96   Courses taken during my third year such as fluids/signals/controls/etc. Mechanical Engineering
William Hodgkiss Matched Field Processing with SWellEx-96     Chemical Engineering
William Hodgkiss SwellEx-96 Experiment Introduction  Learning digital signal processing skills, acoustic wave theory, and Matlab. Completing practice assignments to better learn the skills necessary to explore and filter acquired data. Performing spectral analysis on experimental data.  I found that having a basic knowledge in Python helped me learn Matlab and not be as overwhelmed with the coding process. I also found that coming in having taken many math, physics, and geology classes, and some classes focused on wave propagation, physics of the earth, and digital signal processing helped me as well!  Geophysical Engineering

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 CiminoSophia 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.



Intern climbing from the pier to a boat below