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Funded by the National Science Foundation - Division of Ocean Sciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the focus of the DISL REU Program is to provide participants with the opportunity to carry out an independent research project while working under the direction of a faculty mentor as part of a productive research laboratory. 

Any rising sophomore, junior, or senior undergraduates with interests in ecology, biology, chemistry, geology, biomedicine, or physical and environmental sciences can apply to this REU Program. 

For more information, please contact Ruth H. Carmichael via email or by phone at 251-861-2141 ext. 7555. 

Future DISL REU Program Dates:

  • Summer 2023: 29 May - 4 Aug
  • Summer 2024: 27 May - 2 Aug

Funding for this REU site is provided by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences located in Alexandria, VA. NSF Award 1838618 and 2150347. The NSF contact for this program is Elizabeth Rom. NSF does not handle REU applications; please contact each REU site directly for application information. Participation in the DISL REU Program each year is contingent on the continuation of funding from the National Science Foundation. An abstract and details of the program proposal can be found on the NSF webpage.


Applications are invited from undergraduates rising to their sophomore, junior, or senior years with broad interests in ecology, biology, chemistry, geology, biomedicine, and physical and environmental sciences. Students cannot have graduated at the time of the fellowship. Students who have participated in an NSF OCE-funded REU program are not eligible for a second internship without special permission (please contact DISL before applying). Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. and its possessions.
Minorities, veterans, non-traditional students, and those from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. 
Stipends of $6,000 will be provided for the 10-week full-time program. Students will be provided on-campus housing and an additional food stipend by DISL. Students from outside the Mobile, Alabama area may also apply for travel assistance (up to $500.00).
Application Procedures

  • Complete the online application 
  • Submit college transcripts (can be unofficial and uploaded online),
  • Two letters of recommendation (Please request letters at least two weeks prior to the application deadline and remind reviewers of the deadline).

Incomplete packages may not be considered.  

For more information, please contact Ruth H. Carmichael via email or by phone at 251-861-2141 ext. 7555. 
The DISL REU Program is funded by:
The National Science Foundation - Division of Ocean Sciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program, and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

2022 REU Participants

Claire Legaspi/Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas Ronald Baker, Alex Rodriguez “Do Living Shorelines Enhance Fish Habitats?"
Yasmine Hall/Auburn University, Alabama Jennifer Bloodgood/Brandi Kiel Reese “Characterizing the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Skin Microbiome to Inform Future Sampling Efforts”
Ellie Jata/University of West Florida, Florida Jeffrey Krause/Ryan Roseburrough “The Role of Microbial Activity and Oxygen in Sediment Silica Cycling”
Rebecca Carwithen/University of Santa Cruz, California Brian Dzwonkowski  “Variability in Thermal Response of the Coastal Ocean to Tropical Cyclones: The Quirky Case of Hurricane Nate”
Anika Cho/University of Alabama, Alabama Kelly Dorgan  “Bubbles & Burrows: Characterizing Fracture Behavior in Marine Sediments via Bubble Injection"
Kenneth Murage/Talladega College, Alabama Molly Miller “Bioactivity of Secondary Metabolites Produced by the Benthic Dinoflagellate, Gambierdiscus silvae
Alexes Cleveland/Alabama State University, Alabama Andrea Tarnecki “Small-Scale Oyster Hatcheries: In Pursuit of Replication”
Evan Marth/Athens State University, Alabama Carl Cloyed “Identifying stable isotopes patterns among taxa, sites, and environmental variables in the eastern Mississippi Sound"
D. Julian Hodges/Barry University, Florida Delbert L. Smee “Analyzing Snail Responses to Potential Predator Chemical Signals”

2021 REU Participants

Charlie Dvergsten/Carleton College Alison Robertson/Molly Miller “Hemolytic Mechanisms of Toxicity in Six Benthic Dinoflagellates Associated with Ciguatera Poisoning”
Jordan King/SUNY Maritime College Ronald Baker “Digestion Rate Experiments: Helping Identify Foraging Habitats”
Eli Kemp/Lyon College Jeff Krause “Spatial variability of sediment silica and its reactivity in Mobile Bay”
Che'Isha Johnson/Talladega College Carl Cloyed  “The Direct Effects on Isotope Values During Decomposition of Stranded Dolphins and Manatees”
Kahylin Nesbitt/Oakwood University Brandi Kiel Reese/Jennifer Bloodgood  “Source Tracking of Bacterial Sepsis in 2 Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncates)"
Shelby Blair/Rogers State College Kelly Dorgan “Infaunal bioturbation effects on disturbed sediment structure”
Sophie Wong/University of Virginia Kenny Hoadley “Sexy Symbionts: Increased sexual reproduction in Symbiodiniaceae under nutrient limitation”
Mimi Eason/Northern Arizona University Lee Smee “Everything in Moderation: Comparing the Effects of Exposure to Predator Cues in Eastern Oysters (Crassostrea virginica)"
Elexuzz Davis/Alabama State University John Lehrter “The Effects of Increasing Salinity on Deltaic Sediment Organic Matter Remineralization”

2020 REU Participants

Steve Akin/ Angelo State University Shaun Wang Trace Element Enrichment Found in Plankton Across the Mobile Bay, Alabama
Melanie Ponce/ Martin Methodist College Lee Smee Scared Strong: Using Predator Cues to Enhance Oyster Survival for Reef Restoration
Marco Pastrana/University of Michigan John Lehrter Primary Production and Respiration Patterns Across the Salinity Gradient in Mobile Bay
Joseph Brennan/Florida International University Kenny D. Hoadley Moderate Nutrient Concentrations Reduce Production of reactive Oxygen Species in Anemones During Thermal Stress
Ti-Ara Turner/Judson College Ruth Carmichael Oysters as Bioindicators: Testing Shell as a Proxy for Tissue to Detect Trace Metal Pollution
Trinity Curry/Stillman College Ron Baker, Jeff Krause What Drives Variability in Microphytobenthos Biomass and Carbon Stable Isotope Values?
Sydney Markham/Oklahoma State University Alison Robertson Prevalence of Caribbean Ciguatoxins in Queen Triggerfish
Rylee Malone/SUNY Maritime College Kelly Dorgan Polychaete Burrowing Efficiency

2019 REU Participants

Elijah Tripp/ University of Mobile Kelly Dorgan Infaunal Behavior Variance Observed in Normoxia and Hypoxia
Ryan Roseburrough/ Spring Hill Collge, Alabama Shaun Wang Leaking Heavy Metals: The Spread of Chromium Through the Mobile Bay and River
Lauren Alvaro/ Florida Gulf Coast University John Lehrter Spatial Patterns of Organic Matter Stocks and Sources in Mobile Bay
Terrance Mitchell/ Tuskegee University, Alabama Alison Robertson Behavioral Effects of Ciguatoxins in Gulf Killifish
Ciara Laurence/ University of Maine Brian Dzwonkowski Are Alabama Upwellings Broken? A Comparison of Burger Number and Velocity Structure
Sharil Deleon/ University of Rhode Island Ron Baker, Jeff Krause Variability in Microphytobenthos Biomass and Carbon Stable Isotope Values in Northern Gulf of Mexico Salt Marsh Systems
Ryanne Murray/ Eckerd College, Florida Alissa Deming Dead or Alive: Elemental Analysis of Stranded Bottlenose Dolphins
Emily Combs/ Florida Atlantic University Lee Smee Wake Up and Smell the Crabs! Comparison of Seed Oysters Versus Spat on Shell

2017 REU Participants

Rachel Pugh/ Miss. Gulf Coast Community College Kelly Dorgan
Bill Walton
Polydora websteri Blisters in Crassotrea virginica: Strength, Area, Color
Jenny Rhee/ University of La., Lafayette Brian Dzwonkowski
Jeff Krause
Nutrient flux and physical stability drive phytoplankton biomass variability along the Alabama shelf
Marnie Tabor/ Athens State University, AL Jeff Krause
Just Cebrian
The Contribution of Epiphytic and Sediment Diatoms to Benthic Productivity
Hanae Togami/ Haverford College, PA Ruth Carmichael Chilean mussels reconstruct environmental conditions during two coral die-off events
Harrison Watson/ Jackson State University, MS Bill Walton Observing Polydora websteri Infestation in Crassostrea virginica: Methods in Oyster Farm Planning

Faculty Mentors

Baker, Ronnie, Ph.D. (James Cook Univ., Australia) Dr. Baker's research focuses on the functional roles of coastal ecosystems in support of fisheries, particularly their role as nurseries for fishery species. Research opportunities include field and laboratory-based studies of coastal food webs, with a focus on the diets of early juveniles of fishery species. rbaker@disl.edu

Carmichael, Ruth, Ph.D. (Boston Univ., 2004). Research focuses on how human activities and pollution affect animals (oysters, horseshoe crabs, dolphins and manatees) and their habitats, using traditional ecological, elemental, and telemetry methods to understand responses to change, from physiology to growth and survival or movement patterns. Carmichael is the Director of the DISL Manatee Sighting Network and the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Students in her laboratory can opt to work with a marine mammal veterinarian (Dr. Jennifer Bloodgood; DVM-Ph.D. 2020, Univ of Georgia) to conduct additional studies related to disease and causes of mortality in marine animals. rcarmichael@disl.edu

Cloyed, Carl, Ph.D. (University of Louisville) Dr. Cloyed is an evolutionary ecologist who works within Dr. Ruth Carmichael’s laboratory. Dr. Cloyed’s research focuses on how environmental factors shape niche variation within and among species and drive animal movement and predator-prey interactions. Research opportunities include using stable isotopes to better understand the links between freshwater input and community dynamics in and around Mobile Bay. ccloyed@disl.edu 

Dorgan, Kelly, Ph.D. (Univ. of Maine, 2007). Dr. Dorgan is an ecologist whose research focuses on interactions between infaunal organisms and marine sediments. She is interested in the mechanics of worm burrowing as well as the impacts of worms on sediment structure and biogeochemical cycling. Current projects in the lab include how infauna affect the acoustic and geotechnical properties of sediments, how daily changes in oxygen affect animal behaviors and biogeochemical cycling, interactions between fauna and physical properties of sediments following a disturbance such as a major storm, and the roles of meiofaunal organisms in sediment ecosystems. kdorgan@disl.org

Dzwonkowski, Brian, Ph.D. (Univ. of Delaware 2009). Research interests lie in coastal physical oceanography (things related to the structure and flow of water (currents, tides, stratification) and how physical processes impact biogeochemical cycling and ecosystem function.  bdzwonkowski@disl.org

Hoadley, Kenneth D. Ph.D. (Univ. of Delaware, 2016). The transfer of energy and complex responses to climate perturbations within unique symbioses such as that between the dinoflagellate taxa (Symbiodiniaceae) and reef corals are of particular interest within the lab. Dr. Hoadley’s lab uses a combination of physiological measurements and molecular techniques to identify acclamatory and/or stress mitigating techniques employed by various phytoplankton species in response to environmental stress. khoadley@disl.org

Krause, Jeffrey, Ph.D. (Oregon St. Univ., 2008). Research focuses on how phytoplankton (marine single-cell plants), especially diatoms, cycle energy and elements in the ocean, and the processes promoting the efficient transfer of their material to higher organisms (e.g. primary and secondary consumers). jkrause@disl.edu  

Lehrter, John, Ph.D. (Univ. of Alabama, 2003). Research focuses on understanding nutrient, organic matter, and oxygen cycling in coastal systems and how these cycles are related to aspects of water quality (eutrophication, hypoxia, coastal acidification). Research includes use of remotely sensed data and numerical modeling to aid coastal management.  jlehrter@disl.org


Charlie Martin, Ph.D. (University of South Alabama 2010) Research in the Martin lab focuses on the ecology of marine, estuarine, and freshwater areas, including the role of anthropogenic stressors in structuring these ecosystems. Recent projects have highlighted submerged vegetation and its potential for restoration, patterns in fish community composition variability across space and time, and the effects of tropical species moving into subtropical and temperate areas.



Powers, Sean, Ph.D. (Texas A&M, 1997).  Research focuses on the ecology of marine fish and invertebrates, particularly those that support commercial and recreational fisheries.  The ultimate goal of his research program is to provide scientifically sound information to direct the conservation and restoration efforts of marine fisheries and habitats.  spowers@disl.org

Reese, Brandi Kiel, Ph.D. (Texas A & M University, 2011).  Research is interdisciplinary by bringing together Geology, Molecular Microbiology, and Geochemistry to provide a more integrated examination of aquatic and sediment biogeochemical cycling. Specifically specializes in combining state-of-the-art culture-independent molecular techniques (including metatranscriptomics and metagenomics) with high throughput culturing and advanced geochemical analysis to describe the total microbial environment. This systems biology approach to understanding microbial ecology has spanned marine and freshwater; shallow sediments within estuaries and coastal hypoxic zones; deeply buried continental mines and caves, and marine subsurface sediments through the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). bkielreese@disl.org

Robertson, Alison, Ph.D. (James Cook Univ., Australia, 2005).  Research focuses on toxicity and health impacts of natural toxins and human pollutants in marine and freshwater systems, particularly sub-lethal effects on behavior, reproduction, immune system, and nervous system function.  arobertson@disl.org

Scyphers, Steven, Ph.D. (University of South Alabama, 2012) Research integrates sociology and ecology to better understand and overcome major challenges facing coastal communities. Current projects focus on sustainable coastal fisheries, living shorelines, and nature-based strategies for coastal resilience, coastal habitat and ecosystem restoration, and climate adaptation. sscyphers@disl.edu

Smee, Lee, Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2006) Research focuses on chemical signaling between predators and prey communities, including work related to oyster reef ecology, mangrove encroachment, pesticide effects on blue crabs, and biogeography of seagrass communities in the Gulf of Mexico.  lsmee@disl.edu

Steinmuller, Havalend, Ph.D. (University of Central Florida 2019) Research focuses on the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus within and throughout coastal systems, including mangroves, intertidal oyster reefs, and tidal marshes.  Specifically, she is interested in how disturbance (sea level rise, eutrophication, extreme events, etc.) alters biogeochemical cycling within coastal soils and sediments. . hsteinmuller@disl.edu

Tarnecki, Andrea Ph.D. (Auburn University, 2014). Research primarily addresses needs identified by the Alabama shellfish aquaculture industry and its stakeholders. The Tarnecki lab tests technology/practices that have the potential to alleviate challenges and bottlenecks encountered by the off-bottom oyster farming industry. Because of her training in microbiology, additional research interests include new and emerging shellfish diseases, harmful algal blooms, and seafood safety. atarnecki@disl.edu

Titus, Ben Ph.D. (Ohio State University, 2017). Research in the Titus Lab uses the iconic mutualisms from tropical coral reefs to understand the evolutionary and ecological processes that generate biodiversity in these tightly linked interactions. We combine field research, systematics, and genomic approaches to understand mutualisms at all levels of biological organization. btitus@disl.edu

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