Internship Program

Each summer SeaDoc brings one or more rising third-year veterinary students to Orcas Island to assist with research projects, often in conjunction with the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor. This internship is a unique opportunity for vet students to get involved in wildlife health issues.

During eight weeks of residency the interns help with SeaDoc research projects and help respond to marine mammal strandings. They find and assess the physical condition of stranded animals, tag harbor seal pups that are left on the beach, transport other pups to a rehabilitation center and participate in gross necropsies and the writing of gross necropsy reports. Interns also participate in weekly medical rounds for harbor seals at the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. They work closely with volunteers and spend a good deal of time educating and speaking with the public.

From time to time we also have short term research internships.

Our Interns and where they are now:

2018: alexa dickson and tamsen polley

Born and raised in San Diego, California, the ocean has always been a part of Alexa's life. During her childhood, she dreamed of being a dolphin trainer—over time, she realized that becoming a veterinarian was her true calling. While attending graduate school at UC Davis, she researched long-tailed macaque behavior in Malaysia. Tamsen has a deep connection the Pacific Northwest, having received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Oregon. Working with mentors like Dr. Paul-Murphy convinced her to pursue a DVM to have a direct impact on wildlife through research and medicine.

Summer housing for the interns has been generously provided by the Hoglund family, whom we thank deeply for their support of SeaDoc

2017: alyssa capuano, devon england, and amber backwell

After receiving a graduate degree in marine mammal science at the University of Miami, Alyssa attended UC Davis to fulfill her goals of protecting marine wildlife and their ecosystems. Originally from Long Island, New York, she has moved from coast to coast following her passion for science, education, wildlife, and the ocean. Born and raised in Southern California, Devon's childhood passion for science and marine animals took her to Cornell and UC Davis. From volunteering at mammal rehabilitation centers on California's coast to spending a semester in Queensland, Australia, she has sought out experiences to work with and learn about marine life. Amber moved from Ontario to Vancouver, British Columbia to pursue a masters in Public Health. While traveling across the world, she realized that she needed to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian: she returned to Canada and entered the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

We thank the Hoglund family for providing housing for our 2017 summer interns.

2016: Megan Mangini and Priya Subbarayan


Megan just finished her 2nd year at UC Davis. From Chicago originally, she and her husband migrated to San Diego where she worked doing marine mammal microbiology and marine mammal stranding work at SeaWorld before starting veterinary school. Priya worked with sea turtles, sea otters and even bears before starting veterinary school at the University of Georgia. She drove across the country with her dog Raleigh to get here and is loving the Pacific Northwest.

We're stoked to have such a rock star cast this summer and grateful to Bill and Lannie Hoglund for housing them.

2015: Jacq Zier, Alice Goble, Lauren Zatorski Clarke


Alice Goble, a veterinary student from Edinburgh, Scotland, worked on a study to document marine mammal stranding patterns in San Juan County using a 12-year data set collected by the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Lauren Zatorski Clarke, a rising third year veterinary student at Oregon State University, and freshly-minted Colgate graduate Jacq Zier worked with SeaDoc and the Whale Museum to respond to marine mammal strandings and investigate causes of mortality in these animals. Not pictured are Isabel Plourde and Kelly Muething, who joined us toward the end of the summer.

2014: Arlena Ulrich, Keiki Cunningham, Sarah Bahan, Sofie Thixton, Jacq Zier, and Alice Goble


Our UC Davis interns, Keiki and Sarah, are 3rd year veterinary students. We also had several other interns come through for specific projects and shorter stays. Arlena Ulrich is a veterinarian and Ph.D student from Germany; she came for a week to work on marine mammal parasites. Sofie Thixton from Scripps College helped Joe Gaydos on a project to evaluate the cumulative impact of the energy projects being considered for the Salish Sea. Jacq Zier rejoined us for part of the summer to work on research projects and the stranding network, as did vet student Alice Goble from the UK. (2/2015)

2013: Jacq Zier, Kay Wicinas, and Liz Anderson


Kay and Liz are both 4th year vet students at UC Davis. Jacq is a senior at Colgate. (2/2015)

2012: Karisa Tang, DVM, and Christine Parker, DVM


Karisa Tang, DVM, is doing a small animal specialty and emergency medicine internship in San Diego and will be heading to the Vancouver Aquarium next year for an aquatic medicine internship. (2/2015) Christine Parker, DVM, is working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and will be joining the faculty of Science and Environmental Policy at CSU Monterey Bay as a lecturer this fall. (8/2015)

2011: Greg Bishop, DVM, and Ashley Briese Robinson, DVM


Greg Bishop, DVM, is working as a small animal veterinarian in San Diego, doing some volunteer work with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the San Diego Natural History Museum, and draws cartoons. Ashley Briese Robinson, DVM, is a veterinarian at San Juan Veterinary Clinic in Montrose, Colorado. (2/2015)

2010: Sara Heidelberger, DVM, and Sarah Smolley, DVM


Sarah Smolley, DVM, is a veterinarian at The Drake Center for Veterinary Care at VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center. Sara Heidelberger, DVM, is a veterinarian at Pacific Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Service, and volunteers at the Marine Mammal Center and Moss Landing. (2/2015)

2009: Michelle Barbieri, DVM, Nadia Rifat, DVM, and nick donald

Michelle Barbieri, DVM, MS, graduated from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in June 2011.  She is the Hawaiian Monk Seal Health Program Coordinator for TMMC/NOAA Fisheries (1/13). Nadia Rifat, DVM, is a veterinarian at Sun Valley Regional Animal Hospital and an associate veterinarian at Animal Care Clinics in El Sobrante, CA (2/2015).

Nick Donald was a short-term intern in the summer of 2009. He assisted with the marine mammal stranding network and also took on a special project to assist us with compiling and mapping current coastal river otter habitat to help us determine critical habitat for this species. Nick now lives in New York City.

2008: Abby Stanger Judge, DVM


Abby Stanger Judge, DVM, was a rotating small animal intern at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. She now lives and works in Omaha, Nebraska. (6/11)

2007: Jessica Kurek, DVM


Jessica Kurek, DVM, graduated from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She works in emergency veterinary medicine at Pacific Veterinary Specialists in Capitola, CA. (6/11)

2006: Katie Marrie, DVM


Katie Marrie, DVM, has been working as a small animal veterinarian in private practice in Long Beach, CA. She has worked as a surgeon for a non-profit organization called Clinico, whose mission is to reduce animal shelter intake by providing high-quality, low-cost spay and neuter services to underserved communities in Los Angeles. In August of 2011 Katie became the Medical Director of a non-profit called Spay Neuter Project Los Angeles (see video). (5/12)

2005: Brynie Kaplan-Dau, MS, DVM


Dr. Brynie Kaplan-Dau graduated from the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Her primary interests include feline medicine, emergency medicine, soft tissue surgery, and exotic animal medicine - including birds, fish, and reptiles. She also has advanced training in ultrasound. Before becoming a veterinarian Dr. Kaplan-Dau was a marine biologist (Masters of Science from Moss Landing Marine Labs and CSU Monterey Bay) and worked with marine endangered wildlife in California, Washington State, and Greece. She is the co-owner of a small animal veterinary practice in Salinas, CA. (1/16)

2004: Nick Brown and Abigail Sine

Nick Brown, shown here with Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders and SeaDoc Chief Scientist Joe Gaydos after a dive in 2010, is starting veterinary school in St. Kitts in the fall of 2011. Janna Nichols photo (6/11). Abby Sine is a veterinary student at Massey University in New Zealand (6/11).

2003: Morgan Sternberg