Opportunities in the Lab

Volunteer Position:

Researchers pull a seine through the water to collect fish on the Rhode River.
We are seeking volunteers to assist with a research project at our main campus in Edgewater, MD. In order to establish a trained volunteer team for our survey, we are asking people to apply for a spot on the team and to commit for the entire summer. What’s in it for you? We will provide training in identifying Chesapeake Bay fish species, a fun outdoor experience that you can put on your resume, and, if you’re a student, you may be able to use these hours to fulfill your volunteer requirement.

Closing Date:

15 March 2014

Project Description:

The Nearshore Survey is a long term research study (1991-present) examining the interactions between native grass shrimps and their common predators in the Rhode River, a middle Chesapeake Bay subestuary. Our monthly seine net survey characterizes the presence and abundance of fish and crab predators in the nearshore zone (shallow waters where shrimp seek refuge from these predators). All predators (fish, turtles and crabs) are identified to species, measured for total body length and counted and returned to the water. Grass shrimp distribution and relative abundance is monitored at permanent transects at Canning House Bay and Fox Point each month using dip net sweeps. Shrimp are collected, identified, measured, examined for parasites and reproductive state, and returned to the river. These data allow us to quantify the fluctuations in grass shrimp parasite load and population dynamics.

More information on this project is available online at http://www.serc.si.edu/labs/marine_invasions/community_ecology/nearshore.aspx and http://www.serc.si.edu/labs/marine_invasions/feature_story/January_2011.aspx


Volunteer will assist research staff in field sampling of local fishes, shrimp and crabs utilizing seine nets and dip nets. Research takes place on the Rhode River near Edgewater, MD.

Dates of opportunity:

Two to four days per month during June, July and August 2014, two days for the seine survey and two days for the dip-net survey. There will also be a one day training session in early June. Scheduling will be done in advance of each research day; some flexibility of schedule is required due to changes in weather and tide conditions.


• Volunteers must be comfortable getting wet and dirty, working on boats, and be able to lift 40 lbs.
• An interest in biology.
• Volunteers must have reliable transportation to SERC campus

Application Information:

To apply, please email a brief letter of interest to Stacey Havard at havards@si.edu. Please include any previous scientific classes or experience you have had.


Stacey Havard, 443-482-2468, havards@si.edu


Position: Marine Biologist

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center is advertising 1 position for a Biologist to support a diverse range of activities within the Marine Invasions Research Laboratory.

Job Objectives: Participate as part of a research team on analysis of marine invertebrate communities in bays and estuaries of North America.

Principal Duties: Assists in collection and analysis of marine invertebrate in bays and estuaries. Core responsibilities will include (1) participation in field-based surveys and collections of invertebrate communities, (2) sorting and identification to species level for organisms across a diverse taxonomic range, (3) specialization on identification and biogeography of polychaetes, (4) preservation, curation, and data management surrounding the above collections and specimens. A strong emphasis will be on identification of polychaetes. Applicant must be willing and able to (a) travel for weeks at a time in summer, (b) spend significant time working at the microscope, and (c) work well with a group of researchers.

Location: The position is based either at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Edgewater, Maryland or Romberg Tiburon Center (RTC), Tiburon, California. The Marine Invasions Research Laboratory has facilities and staff at each location involved in this research and currently has a staff of approximately 30 biologists who conduct research throughout the country and overseas, in collaboration with researchers from a variety of other institutions.

Education / Experience: Bachelors or Masters Degree in marine biology or equivalent.
Skills: Applicant must have strong background and knowledge in marine invertebrate zoology and knowledge or aptitude for species-level identification, especially for polychaetes. Some training with taxonomic experts may be required, but the successful applicant should have prior knowledge and experience with invertebrate taxonomy and microscopy. This position requires excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. Strong communication skills and ability to work as part of a team are also essential.

Annual Salary: $34,415-$46,382, depending on location and experience, plus a full package of paid leave and benefits.

Duration: 1 year renewable, based upon satisfactory performance and availability of continued funding. Anticipated start date in March 2014.

To Apply: Please submit current resume as well as names, phone numbers, and email addresses of 3 professional references. Applications should be submitted to Laura Falsone (falsonel@si.edu), Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, P.O. Box 28, Edgewater, MD 21037 USA. Email submission preferred. Applications received before 19 February 2014 will receive full consideration. Position is open until filled.

Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer

General Internship information:

Our lab measures patterns of marine and estuarine non-indigenous species transfer, invasion, and impact. We also test specific and general mechanisms that underlie these patterns and assess the efficacy of management strategies to limit the spread and impact of non-indigenous species. Although our research is focused on marine invertebrate species, we are also interested in the unique opportunities that invasions offer to understand fundamental processes in population, community, and evolutionary ecology. A large component of our research on transfer examines the volume, content, dynamics, and management of ballast water, but we also look into other means of introduction such as the live bait trade and hull fouling. We have several projects that focus on removal of introduced species and basic research on population and community ecology. We also have two research projects that aren’t focused on non-indigenous species: our nearshore survey and our ocean acidification project. More information on some of our recent projects can be found under Feature Story.

Interns in our lab will participate in all aspects of field and laboratory work and will assist with other projects in the lab as needed. Interns are strongly encouraged to conduct an independent research project and present their findings to the SERC community in an oral presentation and written report. To learn more about the experience of some of our interns see the August 2011 feature story.

The following projects are taking on interns this year (2014):

Ocean Acidification Project (OAP): This is an interdisciplinary project that examines the role and effects of rising CO2 levels on nearshore ecosystems across different latitudes and on different ecological communities. OAP utilizes both carbon chemistry and experimental ecology methodologies to study ocean acidification in these habitats, with interns participating in all aspects of the research, from field experiments to executing lab analyses and analyzing data. Desirable: Interest and knowledge in both biology and chemistry or oceanography.

There may be the opportunity for an intern to work on a project at our lab in Tiburon, California, for the summer.

For information on SERC internships and the internship application process, click here .

For information on Smithsonian fellowships, click here .

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