The OSU Marine Mammal Institute does much more than research. It develops resourceful graduate students who become successful professionals in state and federal government, academics, and research. Most of MMI's faculty hold academic appointments in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. The following faculty members may be taking on new graduate students. Please contact them directly with your letter of interest and curriculum vitae (CV).

Dr. Lisa T. Ballance is a professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and director of the Marine Mammal Institute. Dr. Ballance is a broadly trained cetacean and seabird ecologist. Her current interests include macroecology (species diversity patterns in space and time), changes in marine ecosystems associated with recovery of protected species, and conservation biology.  

Dr. Scott Baker is a professor of Fisheries and Wildlife and the head of the Cetacean Conservation and Genomics Laboratory. Dr. Baker is broadly interested in the evolutionary and ecological pattern and process in whales and dolphins, including their abundance, population structure, genetic diversity, and systematic relationships. He is particularly interested in projects that bring together both molecular and demographic approaches to improve the conservation of these species.

Dr. Leigh Torres is an associate professor with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and Oregon Sea Grant. Dr. Torres is a marine mammal behavioral ecologist and Sea Grant Extension specialist, who focuses on spatial and behavioral ecology and conservation. She leads the Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Laboratory. Potential graduate students are encouraged to review her Letter to Prospective Graduate Students.

Dr. Daniel Palacios is an associate professor with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Dr. Palacios leads the Whale Habitat, Ecology & Telemetry Lab, and his interests are quantitative ecology as applied to habitat characterization, animal movement, risk mitigation, and informing management practices. Potential applicants interested in joining his lab are encouraged to review his Letter to Prospective Applicants.

Dr. Mauricio Cantor is an assistant professor with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and Marine Studies Initiative, who will be joining the MMI in fall 2021. The research focus of his lab will be on the mechanisms of behavioural and ecological interactions and their consequences across scales — from individuals to communities. Potential graduate students may send a letter of interest and CV to Dr. Cantor by emailing them to

Dr. John Durban is an associate professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation, and an affiliate at the Marine Mammal Institute. Dr. Durban's primary research involves combining photographic mark–recapture for population assessment with drone-derived photogrammetry to monitor individual whale health. He conducts research on cetacean species, with particular focus on killer whales in Alaska, Antarctica, and the Pacific Northwest. Potential graduate students may email a letter of interest and CV to Dr. Durban at


Gray Whale Research Summer Internship

The MMI GEMM Lab is currently seeking 1–2 undergraduate students and 1–2 high school interns to collect predator–prey data in a long-term foraging ecology project in Port Orford, Oregon. Applications are due February 28, 2021. For more information, please view the flyer or visit the Dept. of Fisheries & Wildlife Graduate Student Mentors page (under Lisa Hildebrand).

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Applications for the 2021 HMSC Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program are now being accepted. MMI Associate Professor Leigh Torres and MMI Affiliate Rachael Orben will be among the faculty participating as mentors. Initial review of applications begins after Monday, February 15, 2021. Applications and letters of recommendation will be accepted until positions are filled. Remote.


Marine Mammal Institute faculty often participate in the Hatfield Marine Science Center Research Experiences for Undergraduates summer internship program, which is open to students from OSU and other domestic institutions. 

MMI faculty may also participate in internships for OSU students through the OSU Marine Studies Initiative.

For more student internship opportunities, visit the following links:

For a general overview on how to get started selecting a graduate school, see the article, Exploring Marine Science Research Labs for Graduate School, which features a contribution by Professor Scott Baker.

For information about undergraduate and graduate academic programs at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, please visit the HMSC Academic website

If you would like to arrange a visit to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, please complete a Tour Request Form.