The Marine Mammal Institute does much more than research. We develop resourceful graduate students who become successful professionals in state and federal government, academia, and research.

Pictured here: PhD student Lisa Hildebrand teaches undergraduate students in Renee Albertson's Biology of Marine Mammals summer course how to track gray whales using a theodolite.

Marine Mammal Institute faculty hold academic appointments in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Questions about applying to academic programs should be directed to the department, college, or Graduate School.

The Marine Mammal Institute is located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon. If you are a prospective student who would like to schedule a tour of HMSC, please visit the Tours and Events page for details.


There is a growing need for professionals who can tackle the complex conservation issues that arise when marine mammals and human activities overlap. The Marine Mammal Graduate Certificate addresses that need. The certificate curriculum represents a transdisciplinary approach to marine mammalogy that organizes learning in the context of real-world problems. This is a flexible program, with courses that fit the interests and needs of diverse participants, from postbaccalaureate students to mid-career professionals. The certificate encompasses 20 credits that can be taken incrementally or completed in 10 weeks.

This Marine Mammal Graduate Certificate draws on the expertise at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and emphasizes the Oregon coast as a natural laboratory and study area, with a focus on developing skills that are transferable to a global scale. Start the certificate now by enrolling in its core course, Human Dimensions of Marine Mammal Conservation, this summer 2024.


The following Marine Mammal Institute faculty may be taking on new graduate students. To inquire about graduate or postdoctoral mentorship, please contact the professor directly with your letter of interest and curriculum vitae (CV). 

C. Scott Baker 
Scott Baker is a professor of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences 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.
Leigh Torres
Leigh Torres is an associate professor with the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences 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 and her Prospective Students page.
Kate Stafford
Kate Stafford is an associate professor with the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences and Marine and Coastal Opportunities. She leads the Marine Mammal Bioacoustics and Ecology Laboratory. Dr. Stafford's research focuses on using passive acoustic monitoring to examine migratory movements, geographic variation, and physical drivers of marine mammals, particularly large whales. Potential graduate students are encouraged to read her Letter to Prospective Applicants. They may send a letter of interest and CV to Dr. Stafford by emailing
Mauricio Cantor
Mauricio Cantor is an assistant professor with the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences and Marine and Coastal Opportunities and head of the Laboratory for Animal Behavioral Interaction Research. The lab's focus is on behavioral ecology and its intersections with human dimensions. Prospective postdoctoral researchers and graduate students are encouraged to visit the lab website and read Dr. Cantor's Letter to Prospective Lab Members. Letters of interest and CVs can be sent directly Dr. Cantor at
Joshua Stewart
Joshua Stewart is an assistant professor with the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences and Marine Studies Initiative. He is a quantitative ecologist whose interests span animal movement, trophic ecology, and population dynamics with an emphasis on marine mammals and threatened marine megafauna. Dr. Stewart leads the Ocean Ecology Laboratory. A major focus of his work is using advanced models to describe population dynamics and ecological processes. He has a strong interest in applied science, collaborating with stakeholders and managers, and applying research findings directly to management and conservation with input from resource users. 
John Durban
John Durban is a courtesy associate professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences 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


Term: Spring
Location: Hybrid
Instructor: Renee Albertson
Course Description: Introduces first- and second-year undergraduates, teachers and non-degree students to the breadth of marine science course offerings and research at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center located in Newport, Oregon. Using an experiential-based format, students collect field data to better understand marine mammals (whales, dolphins and porpoises), seabirds, and their interactions with their environment.


Term & Location: Summer (HMSC); Fall, Winter, Spring (Ecampus)
Instructor: Renee Albertson
Course Description: An examination of the biology of whales, pinnipeds, and other marine mammals, including general adaptations to a marine existence; systematics and biogeography; reproduction; diving physiology; communication and echolocation; feeding and migratory behavior; and marine mammal/human interactions; including conservation issues. Taught at Hatfield Marine Science Center or online through Ecampus.

Summer enrollment is open now.


Term & Location: Spring (Ecampus); Summer (HMSC)
Instructor: Rachael Orben
Course Description: Marine and estuarine birds are highly diverse and differ in many ways from more familiar terrestrial species. For example, many seabirds have life histories that are more similar to much larger animals and a number of physiological and behavioral adaptations for the marine environment, including diving capabilities in many species. Through lecture, field, and laboratory experiences, students will gain detailed knowledge of the biology and ecology of marine and estuarine birds. This course will focus on how marine birds are adapted for life at sea, their morphology, physiology, foraging ecology and biogeography as well as covering topics in introductory oceanography and conservation. The course will include lecture, class discussion, field trips and sampling, lab exercises, data interpretation, class presentations and projects.

Conservation Genetics (FW 370)

Term: Winter, Spring, Fall
Location: Ecampus
Instructor: Renee Albertson
Course Description: A foundational course in preparation for a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife or other degrees focused on conservation of natural resources. Covers a broad range of topics associated with issues surrounding genetics that working professionals in the biological sciences should be conversant about. One of the most important aspects of the course is the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

the Natural history of whales and whaling (FW 419/519)

Term: Fall / Winter
Location: HMSC / Ecampus
Instructor: Scott Baker / Renee Albertson
Course Description: During the last 200 years, whaling expanded into a global industry, systematically driving most populations of baleen whales (suborder Mysticeti) and some larger toothed whales (suborder Odontoceti) to near extinction. This nearly eliminated an entire trophic level of the marine ecosystem, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere. Although viewed by some as a relic of the past, whaling remains a strong imperative for some native people and national interests. This course addresses the natural history of whales as a unique example of adaptation in an evolutionary lineage and the history of whaling as a general example of the failings of international resource management.

Behavior and Ecology of Social Animals (FW466/566)

Term: Fall
Location: HMSC
Instructor: Mauricio Cantor
Course Description: Examines how the social lives of animals contributes to solving fundamental life challenges—eat and reproduce while not being eaten—from an evolutionary and ecological perspective with specific emphasis on marine vertebrates (cetaceans, pinnipeds, elasmobranchs). Explores fundamental concepts of behavioral ecology to examine how group living shape animal societies in terms of structure, organization and mating systems. Combines lectures, groups discussions, field activities, and data analyses on animal societies.

biology, ecology, & conservation of marine mammals (FW 457x/557x)

Term: Fall Term 5A
Location: Newport (Hatfield Marine Science Center)
Instructor: Kate Stafford, Mauricio Cantor, Josh Stewart
Course Description: This 5-week, 9-credit course provides a comprehensive overview of the ecology, biology, and evolution of marine mammals, which are globally distributed, shape marine ecosystems, and are inextricably linked to humans. Examines adaptations of marine mammals to the marine environment, biogeography, bioacoustics, ecological roles, social, feeding and migratory behavior, and conservation issues. Emphasizes integrative learning through lectures, group discussions and debates, field activities, lab work, analyses of real-world data, and interaction with a wide variety of professions and fields related to marine mammal science.

Fall enrollment opens May 19.


Term: Summer 2024
Location: HMSC / Ecampus
Instructor: Mauricio Cantor
Course Description: Approaches for more ethical, equitable, and effective conservation of marine mammals. Issues in marine mammal conservation and key concepts related to the human (social, political, economic, and cultural) dimensions of conservation, and lessons learned from real-world examples. Topics will include: social-ecological systems; transdisciplinarity; Design Thinking; human rights-based approach to management; social science and participatory research methods; responsible community engagement; conservation evaluation.

Summer enrollment is open now.


Term: Summer 2024
Location: Newport (HMSC)
Instructor: Kate Stafford
Course Description: Focuses on passive and active acoustic sources, sound production mechanisms, animal communication, tools used, and the impacts of human-made noise on animals. Provides experience in collecting and analyzing acoustic data based on the sounds made and used by different species to make hydrophones. Analyzes how bioacoustics can be used in conservation studies.

Summer enrollment is open now.

antarctic science and conservation (FW 467/567)

Term: Winter
Location: Ecampus
Instructor: Renee Albertson
Course Description: Explores the history, geology, climate, and ecosystems of Antarctica, with an emphasis on current research and conservation issues. Focuses on critical thinking skills developed through independent research on a topic of interest, an internal peer review project, and discussions of relevant case studies in Antarctic research.


Term: Fall
Location: Ecampus / HMSC
Instructor: Renee Albertson
Course Description: An in-depth study of marine megafauna (mammals, birds, turtles) with an emphasis on methods and analyses of behavior and physiology for conservation. Lab and field exercises include investigations into the behavior–physiology nexus of diving, migration, thermoregulation, energy expenditure, and mating systems. Research techniques to be explored will include, for example, tracking and remote biotelemetry monitoring technologies, respirometry, genetics, and direct field study observation. Theoretical approaches, field techniques and statistical analyses will help prepare students for a career in fisheries or wildlife science.

Please refer to the OSU course catalog for current class information.
Check with your academic department for specific program requirements.
Visit Academic Programs and Study at the Coast for more courses offered at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

INTERNSHIPs with mmi

Established programs in which Marine Mammal Institute faculty may participate include:

Information about insurance coverage during internships can be found on the OSU Insurance and Risk Management Services website.

student employment

Note that some opportunities within MMI labs may be in the form of student employment. To browse open hourly student employment positions, visit the Office of Human Resources' Student Employment website.

Other opportunities may at times be crafted on an individual basis or through your home institution and are dependent upon funding and other factors. If you are a student interested in interning, volunteering, or temporary work with the Marine Mammal Institute, please review the Principal Investigators (PIs) and their research on our web pages. If you identify an alignment of your interests and an MMI research project, please contact the specific PI directly with your curriculum vitae and letter of interest.


Other related opportunities outside of MMI: