COAST Student Internships Summer 2022

​​Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve 

Bioindicator Trends and Analysis Internship​

Host: The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) is one of 29 coastal sites in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a network of protected areas established for long-term research, education, and stewardship. TRNERR preserves, protects, and manages the natural and cultural resources of the Tijuana River Estuary by focusing on research and education with compatible recreation and resource use. The Reserve encompasses beach, dune, mudflat, salt marsh, riparian, coastal sage scrub, and upland habitats, and is surrounded by the growing cities of Imperial Beach and San Diego, in the United States, and Tijuana, in Mexico.​

Location: Imperial Beach, CA (map​) (planning for in-person participation but hybrid or remote participation may be offered or required based on circumstances).​

Internship Dates: June 1 - August 16, 2022; start and end dates are flexible with regard to student’s academic commitments and project schedule. 

Stipend: $6,000. Up to $2,000 in additional funding will be available to students who must relocate to participate in the internship.​​​​

Time Commitment: The internship is a full-time, 11-week commitment. Over the 11 weeks, the intern may take up to five days off for personal reasons, vacation, or illness. If participation is less than 100 percent, the stipend will be prorated.

Position Description and Responsibilities: The TRNERR has a long history of identifying and tracking “vital signs” to assess ecosystem health. Many of these programs began in the 1980s, in response to the growing awareness of the potential effects of pollution from the Tijuana River. TRNERR has recently embarked on a project aimed at better understanding trajectories of change over recent decades by compiling and analyzing these data, and presenting this to a variety of interested stakeholders. This project focuses on bioindicators, with a primary emphasis on fauna, such as molluscs, crustaceans, and fish. Data are available from a variety of ecological levels, including communities (e.g., diversity), populations (e.g., densities and distributions), and individuals (e.g., condition and contaminant loads).

The internship will involve working within the context of this broader program and focusing on a sub-set of the potential bioindicators. Specifically, the intern will:

  • ​​​Choose a bioindicator, or suite of indicators, to focus on. This will be based on the interest of the intern, availability of data, and need of TRNERR and its stakeholders.
  • ​​Compile historical data from a variety of sources, including published papers, reports, databases, and raw data sheets, which likely will be in both hard copy and digital formats.
  • Synthesize available data to track long-term trends.​
  • ​Present results in a format that will be informative to a variety of audiences, including researchers, resource managers, and the public.​​
Overall, the outcome of this project will be an improved ability to document and interpret long-term trajectories of change, thereby helping to steer coupled monitoring and management at the Reserve. Additionally, while further data collection is not the focus of this internship (and summer data collection is constrained due to bird nesting season), there may be opportunities for the intern to assist TRNERR staff with fieldwork (e.g., water quality monitoring and habitat mapping). 

All work will be done locally in Imperial Beach (no travel, including to Mexico, is required).

Preferred Experience and Capabilities: Preferred experience includes ability to work with Microsoft Office (Excel and Powerpoint), including basic data analysis, graphing, and presentation. Additional experience with databases and/or GIS desired but not required. Core internship duties may be performed by students with physical disabilities or limitations.  

Skills Gained: Beyond gaining skills associated with analysis and interpretation of long-term data, the intern will have the opportunity to work in a setting where scientific information is translated to management, outreach, and education through a variety of Reserve-based programs.  The intern will also become more familiar with place-based research in a complex, bi-national watershed.  

Eligibility/Requirements: The intern must be able to​

  • Work independently, as well as interact in a professional manner with TRNERR staff and its partners.
  • Keep excellent notes and organize information from a wid​e variety of sources.​