Meet SeaDoc's 2018 Interns

Every summer, SeaDoc brings one or more rising third-year veterinary students to Orcas Island to assist with research projects in conjunction with the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor. The eight-week internship is a great opportunity for vet students to get involved in wildlife health issues. One of their primary roles is to help respond to marine mammal strandings, but they also participate in medical rounds at the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and they work closely with volunteers and spend a good deal of time educating and speaking with the public. This year's interns are Alexa Dickson and Tamsen Polley from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Summer housing for the interns has been generously provided by the Hoglund family, whom we thank deeply for their support of SeaDoc. Get to know each of the interns below!

Alexa Dickson


Whale, I couldn’t be more excited to spend my last summer working with SeaDoc Society. My passion for the ocean and marine life pretty much started at birth. Born and raised in San Diego, the ocean was always part of daily life.

Marine mammals always had the biggest place in my heart, as nothing was more exciting than seeing dolphins play in the waves or the sea lions tan at my hometown beaches. My childhood dreams of wishing to be a dolphin trainer slowly evolved into following my passion for veterinary medicine, leading me to comple my first two years of school at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Last summer I researched long-tailed macaque behavior in Malaysia, which was an amazing experience to understand field research and human-wildlife interfaces. Now I find myself on beautiful Orcas Island, ready for the summer of a lifetime combining all my passions (marine mammals, environmental stewardship, human-animal interactions, and veterinary medicine).

In my free time I enjoy playing water polo, swimming, doing yoga, hiking, playing fetch with my crazy dog, and watching TV with my adorable cat. I am excited for the summer ahead, as SeaDoc does amazing work for wildlife and ecosystem conservation, and I am humbled to be a part of such a wonderful organization. Bring on the Vitamin Sea!

Tamsen Polley


I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to intern with the SeaDoc Society and return to my PNW stomping grounds. Fish and wildlife are an integral part of my life and I look forward to learning and supporting the Salish Sea ecosystem.

I originally earned a Bachelors in Microbiology from Oregon State University and completed a thesis in Dr. Bartholomew’s laboratory looking at salmonid parasite detection and modeling at the hatchery-river interface. After undergrad, as I applied my degree researching intracellular parasites at the Oregon Health and Science University, I felt separated from the direct application of my work and decided to continue my education through a Master’s in Avian Sciences in avian welfare. My graduate work, combined with an amazing mentor Dr. Paul-Murphy, convinced me to pursue a DVM to allow me the opportunity to have a direct impact on wildlife through research and medicine.

I want to approach individual wildlife and population-based models with an understanding of physiology, disease, and both global and local implications. Because of these interests, I have the long-term goal of pursuing research in combination with veterinary anatomic pathology.

I look forward to the privilege of not only gaining amazing experience over the summer but representing both the University of California, Davis and the SeaDoc Society as a future veterinarian.

Learn more about the internship program.