Blinks-REU-BEACON Internship Program

Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Integrative Biology and Ecology of Marine Organisms

Program Description

The Blinks-REU-BEACON Summer Internship Program links undergraduate students with scientist-mentors as collaborators in marine science research projects. The program takes advantage of the pristine environment, remarkable biodiversity, and the scientific and technical resources at UW Friday Harbor Laboratories, a marine science research facility in the San Juan Islands.

We have combined the following programs into one rewarding summer internship program to encourage a shared experience:

  • NSF REU program
  • Blinks Research Fellowship program, which targets groups who are historically underrepresented in the marine sciences
  • NSF-funded BEACON Program

In cooperation with the the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Anne Hof Blinks Memorial Fellowship, the Blinks-REU-BEACON Program offers a full immersion research experience for motivated undergraduates, post-baccalaureates and graduate students. In keeping with UW policy of encouraging diversity in its student body including underrepresented groups, the program seeks 10-15 students of diverse backgrounds and interests to participate in a eight week summer research project in the marine sciences. By linking interns with marine scientists in a 1:1 research experience, interns learn both the process and the substance of scientific research. As the research progresses, interns will be encouraged to become semi-independent collaborators. The experience will expose interns to the life and work of a marine science research laboratory. The program will incorporate workshops, seminars and training sessions in addition to hands-on research.

The mentors and projects vary from year to year according to the developing research interests of resident and visiting researchers. Research projects are designed by the scientists to be achievable projects which dovetail with their research plans. Projects are posted below. Interns will work semi-independently with mentor supervision for approximately 40 hours per week.

As participants in the FHL community, interns will participate actively in FHL community activities, e.g. attend the weekly seminars, eat in the Dining Hall and live in the student dormitory. Early in the summer session, there will be a meeting of student participants with graduate students and mentors to share perspectives on graduate programs and participation in academic life, with a brief description of ongoing projects, and a question/answer session. At the end of their internship, interns will present their research in a short powerpoint talk. Interns will also write a scientific paper describing their work, and revise it based upon feedback from the mentor.

The Setting

FHL is University of Washington’s marine science field research station. Located north of Puget Sound in the San Juan Islands, FHL takes advantage of a remarkable diversity of marine habitats and organisms. FHL hosts 15-20 courses per year and approximately 100 independent researchers during the year. The 484 acre campus is the site for thirteen lab buildings, a dining hall, 3 dorms and other housing units.

Research at FHL emphasizes marine invertebrate zoology, phycology, fisheries science, conservation biology, cell and molecular biology, biomedical sciences, oceanography and other scientific disciplines. Investigators and students use diversified field resources as well as modern analytical technologies such as a CT scanner, nucleotide sequencer, scanning laser confocal microscopes, centrifuges, HPLC, TEM, SEM and other equipment. FHL is equipped with a 58′ research vessel, numerous smaller boats, cold rooms, and an extensive seawater system serving numerous lab buildings. The facility includes a computer lab, networked research labs, wi-fi connectivity, a well equipped stockroom, a 17,000 volume library, and SCUBA facilities.

Financial Support

Participants will be provided with financial support to meet costs of room, board and round trip travel, plus a stipend (amount to be determined).


The NSF REU Site grant supports U.S. citizens or permanent residents during their undergraduate careers. The Blinks Endowment supports students who bring diversity to the FHL student body in any phase of their undergraduate or graduate career.

The University of Washington is committed to providing equality of opportunity and an environment that fosters respect for all members of the University community.
Non-discrimination policies are detailed here:

To Apply

We are working on getting the 2018 REU projects and mentors listed.  Please check back in December.  Thanks for your interest in our program.

Fill out the FHL REU Application form to apply for participation in a specific research projects. We recommend applying for up to three projects given the stiff competition for admission to the program. In the ethnicity field, please be sure to indicate if you’re from an underrepresented group.

  • Apply to work with a specific mentor by writing a one-page application statement which describes your background, your interest in this project, and how this specific research project will help you achieve your career goals. Please submit up to three application statements, one for each project to which you’d like to apply, and send them to The statements should be sent as separate files in .doc, .docx or .pdf format.
  • Request unofficial copies of your transcript to be sent to Transcripts can be either official or unofficial, and either electronic or on paper. Electronic transcripts are preferred. If your school prepares only paper transcripts, please send them to Dr. Billie Swalla at the address below.

Dr. Billie Swalla
Friday Harbor Laboratories
620 University Road
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

  • Request two letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Letters should be emailed from faculty directly to

Questions may be directed to
Students who are selected will be notified in late March.

Research Projects for 2017

Dr. Sophie George. The effects of food patches on the behavior of seastar larvae in haloclines, and protein expression by larvae exposed to fluctuating salinity.

Dr. Vikram Iyengar. Sexual selection on the seashore: Mating systems of marine arthropods.

Dr. Christopher Kenaley. An Integrative Study of the Skin Material Properties in Sculpins.

Dr. Matt Kolmann. Why so many fishes? Morphological diversification across the marine to freshwater transition in temperate and tropical fishes

Dr. Tony Pires. Ocean acidification in the life history of a gastropod

Dr. Billie Swalla. BEACON Program internships.

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