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UMass Dartmouth Internship Program

Thank you for your interest in the program! The application for winter/spring 2025 will open in fall 2024.

We are offering a paid research opportunity for UMass Dartmouth students with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) January-April, 2024. Preference will be given to students who have not had an off-campus research experience in the past. Students will participate in a short course in January and begin a research project to be co-advised by a WHOI scientist and UMass Dartmouth faculty member through the spring semester.

Interns will be on-site full-time at WHOI in Woods Hole, MA, January 8-19 (weekends and holiday excluded) and March 11-15, 2024. WHOI campus housing is provided at no charge (mileage/travel allowance available if students prefer to commute). A stipend of $680/week is provided for the 3 weeks at WHOI. Stipend provided for UMassD on-campus research through the Undergraduate Research Incentive Program (URIP).

The research project will introduce interns to types of lab-based research career opportunities that exist locally, and it may serve as a stepping stone for them to consider graduate studies. Research project options for Winter/Spring 2024 are listed below.

The short course will be 2 hours/day, Tu-Fri, Jan 9-12 and 16-19, including lectures and hands-on activities related to WHOI research on Blue Economy topics such as ocean aquaculture, offshore wind energy, harmful algal blooms, engineering and sensor development, and degradation of organic pollutants. The course will be taught in the Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Technologies (AVAST) facility.

The application for 2024 is now closed.

1. On-line Application Form - includes contact and academic information, and short answer questions about your educational/career goals and research interests
2. Unofficial Transcript - email to
3. Resume (pdf or doc) - email to
4. One Reference is required from a professor/instructor who knows you in an academic capacity. A second reference is optional from a job supervisor, another instructor, or another supervisor.
Instructions to send to reference letter writers are here.

If you have any questions about the program or the application, please contact


Below are the research project options for UMass Dartmouth interns for Winter/Spring 2024:

Marine Foundation Species and Climate Change Solutions

Tom Bell (WHOI) and TBD (UMASSD)

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Giant kelp canopy showing fronds with varying physiological condition. Lighter colored senescent fronds contain less chlorophyll pigment and are generally older than darker frond with higher chlorophyll content. (Tom Bell, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Marine foundation species (e.g., kelp forests, coral reefs, seagrass meadows, saltmarshes) structure entire communities, which are often ecologically and economically important, by creating physical habitat and enhancing productivity. Fundamental and applied research that quantifies how a changing environment interacts with marine foundation species can lead to a greater understanding of ecology and promote beneficial human outcomes.

The Bell lab at WHOI (Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Dept.) focuses its research on macroalgal forests (kelp forests), salt marshes, and coral reefs and is motivated by understanding how the physical environment and intrinsic biotic factors drive the population and physiological dynamics of foundation species over local to global scales. Recently, there has been great interest in understanding how these systems can be leveraged to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester fixed carbon in the deep ocean.

We are seeking a student interested in pursuing a research project focused on one of two areas:

  1. Investigate the optimal siting of large-scale kelp aquaculture to enhance atmospheric carbon dioxide removal and sequestration in the deep sea. This marine spatial planning project would involve maximizing kelp production, reducing distance to sequestration sites, and minimizing existing human conflicts.
  2. Mapping the distribution and health of local salt marsh and/or intertidal species using a variety of drone-based sensors and determining appropriate spectral classification methodologies.

Bell Lab Website


A changing ocean in front of our doorstep: using ocean observations to investigate variability and trends on the Southern New England continental shelf

Svenja Ryan et al (WHOI) and Avijit Gangopadhyay (UMASSD)

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Research Team

Svenja Ryan, Department of Physical Oceanography, WHOI

Glen Gawarkiewicz, Department of Physical Oceanography, WHOI

Caroline Ummenhofer, Department of Physical Oceanography, WHOI

Adrienne Silver, Department of Physical Oceanography, WHOI

Avijit Gangopadhyay, Department of Estuarine and Ocean Sciences, School for Marine Science and Technology University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

The research team has a wide range of expertise, spanning from ocean-atmosphere interactions, climate variability, extreme events to regional scale oceanography and impacts. This group has particular interest in tackling problems that are of societal relevance, such as droughts, floods, marine heatwaves and more generally implications of a changing ocean in a warming world.


Project: A changing ocean in front of our doorstep: using ocean observations to investigate variability and trends on the Southern New England continental shelf

Figure 1: Snapshot of sea surface temperature with key circulation features indicated by black arrows. Intended study area is marked by blue box. The red line indicates the location of the mean temperature (units in °C) cross-shelf section shown on the right.

The Northwest Atlantic continental shelf and slope region is amongst the most rapidly changing regions in the global ocean and has experienced accelerated warming during the last decades, with extensive ecological and socio-economic impacts. In particular, fisheries are facing large challenges due to a changing ecosystem and shifts in species distributions. This research team actively works on understanding the physical changes in the ocean, i.e. altered physical properties such as temperature and salinity as well as changes in ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream. Observations in the coastal ocean are limited, particularly below the surface, yet they are crucial for assessing physical mechanisms and ultimately ecosystem impacts.

Building on existing work, the research in this project will consist of the analysis of existing hydrographic observations on the southern New England continental shelf with a focus on variability and trends in oceanographic properties. Depending on background, experience, and research interests of the successful applicant, additional large datasets, such as satellite observations, can be used. The candidate will be part of a highly motivated and supportive group.

Desired skills:

  • interest in climate/atmosphere/ocean/environmental science (desirable: background in physics, engineering and/or math)
  • good analysis and plotting software skills (e.g., python, Matlab)
  • experience with scientific computing/programming (desirable: familiarity with Linux)

By the end of the project, the successful applicant will have:

  • gained an understanding of ocean circulation in the Northwest Atlantic shelf and slope region and relevant driving processes
  • successfully used scientific analysis methods in ocean/atmospheric/climate science
  • gained insights into societally relevant ocean research
  • acquired proficiency in computational analysis of multi-dimensional data sets and their graphical presentation

Select weblinks of related research of the team:


Shifting wind and rainfall patterns from 19th century New England whaling ship logbooks

Caroline Ummenhofer (WHOI) and Timothy Walker (UMASSD)

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Caroline Ummenhofer, Department of Physical Oceanography, Climate science

Ummenhofer’s group focuses on ocean-atmosphere interactions, variability and change across different components of the climate system, and the resulting regional impacts. The group aims to develop an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the ocean’s role in regional climate and how that information could be useful for tackling problems of societal relevance. It addresses rainfall variability and extreme events, such as droughts, floods, and storms, across a range of scales: from individual synoptic events to interannual, decadal variability and beyond. Research involves both present-day climate conditions, variability over past centuries, as well as future changes in a warming world.

(Top) Map of whale captures for right and sperm whales from New England whaling ships, highlighting voyages to the Indian Ocean. (Bottom) Shifting seasonal pressure and wind patterns that were exploited for the outbound/inbound journeys.

In climate research, long datasets are invaluable. They help establish a climate baseline against which to measure recent changes, illuminate connections between different aspects of the climate system, and validate climate models. Yet, pre-19th century instrumental data from regions beyond Europe and North America are sparse. A growing field of scholarship addresses this gap by interpreting historical records. One of the richest troves of maritime weather data is contained in the vast archives of ship logs, in which officers routinely recorded weather observations during their voyages. Since recording atmospheric conditions in the nautical context was essential to travel safely, the logbooks contain systematic weather observations (e.g., wind strength/direction, storms, precipitation, air temperature, pressure). In this project, weather data gleaned from New England ship logbooks will be combined with instrumental data to assess historical changes in wind and rainfall patterns during the period 1780-1910.

Led by Caroline Ummenhofer, a climate scientist at WHOI, and Timothy Walker, a historian focusing on maritime and colonial history at UMASSD, the project is interdisciplinary in nature. While most of the research project would be conducted at WHOI, regular visits are envisaged to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of whaling ship logbooks. This is commensurate with background, experience, and research interests of the successful applicant, who will join a highly interdisciplinary team to work on this exciting new project in historical climatology.

Desired skills:

  • background in climate/atmosphere/ocean/environmental science (desirable: interest in historical climatology)
  • good analysis and plotting software skills (e.g., python, Matlab, NCL, GRADS, Ferret)
  • experience with scientific computing/programming (desirable: familiarity with Linux)

By the end of the project, the successful applicant will have

  • gained an understanding of wind and pressure patterns and their utility for shipping and trade
  • successfully used scientific analysis methods in historical climatology and ocean/atmospheric/climate science
  • gained hands-on experience in working with diverse climate data in an interdisciplinary context
  • acquired proficiency in computational analysis of large multi-dimensional data sets and their graphical presentation

Select weblinks of related project coverage