Cascadia Interns

Current Interns

Photo-ID Interns - Individuals helping match photographs in our Hawai`i and US West Coast catalogs.

Fall 2017  

Annette Harnish: Hawai`i

I am originally from Auburn, Washington, and grew up exploring the natural beauty of the Puget Sound region with my parents, who are avid campers. I recently graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, with a degree in Microbiology, and originally intended to pursue a career in the medical field. During my junior year of college, however, I experienced a change of heart after doing a project on Sea Star Wasting Disease, and decided to pursue a career studying marine pathogens. Since then, I have conducted molecular research on the microbial communities of Yellowstone National Park hot springs under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Colman, and attended a Sirenian Biology Field Course at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Mississippi, which cemented my interest in studying marine mammals. I am especially interested in the disease ecology of marine mammals, and how human activities might be altering host-pathogen relationships. Here at Cascadia, I am working in the Hawaii office and trying to gain as much marine mammal research experience as possible before heading off to graduate school! 

Sam Mejia: Hawai`i 


Originally from Sacramento, CA, I cultivated a love for coastal beauty and a respect for marine life at an early age. After living in San Francisco for 5 years, I moved to Washington in search for colder weather and a smaller city. I transferred to The Evergreen State College to pursue my BA/BS in natural history and field biology. Through a study abroad program, I went to Argentina and Chile for 6 months from October 2015 - April 2016 where I gathered field observations on the behavior of Octaria byronia (South American sea lion) and Spheniscus magellanicus (Magellanic penguin) in their natural habitats. Additionally, we studied and monitored hundreds of species of plants and birds, and also did in-depth observations of Mirounga leonina (Southern eleph­ant seals), Cephalorhynchus commersonii (Commerson's dolphin), and Orcinus­ orca (killer whales). I am thankful for the educational opportunities of participating in necropsies and strandings of marine mammals through the WDFW. For the past couple quarters I have been researching how climate-related changes are impacting different species of birds from South America and aquatic lichen. I'd like to continue my education and research towards a graduate degree in zoology, specifically in regards to marine mammals and how they are impacted by climate-related changes and anthropogenic sounds.  By interning at Cascadia, I hope to gain more experience in cetaceans, necropsies, and photographic identification.

Hana Rupnow

Aloha! My name is Hana, and I'm from Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. Currently, I am attending The Evergreen State College to pursue a BS degree in Sustainability with a focus in Marine Biology. My life is dedicated to spreading oceanic awareness. It's fun finding balance between being a Cascadia intern, founder of Evergreen Sailing Club, pool lifeguard, and boating deckhand. You could say that I'm an aqua-holic. 

In 2016, I spent 90 days on a sailboat from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean and studied an incredible variety of marine wildlife. During the Atlantic crossing, I gathered zooplankton samples that were sent to a global database. This expedition solidified the decision to pursue research science. Aside from exploring new horizons; I enjoy scuba diving, photography, and rock climbing. During my time at Cascadia Research Collective, I am gaining experience with photo-ID data analysis and marine mammal necropsies with WDFW.

Hannah McKeever


Growing up in Gig Harbor, Washington, I have always been surrounded by the beauty of marine life in the Puget Sound. However, it was not until I attended the University of Washington in Seattle that I decided to pursue a career in marine biology. Through UW, I was able to take a summer course at Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island, a small branch of UW’s campus dedicated to marine research. Here I studied marine mammals and birds both in the lab and in the field. This further solidified my interest in studying marine mammals, but mostly spiked my interest in pinnipeds. Now, as a recent graduate from UW with a major in Biology and a minor in Marine Biology, I hope my time at Cascadia will help me gain experience for graduate school while also prepare me for future intern opportunities, such as at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA and a research internship at UC Santa Cruz. I am particularly interested in studying the intelligence of pinnipeds, along with their physiological adaptations that allow them to survive such extreme conditions and lifestyles. Overall, I look forward to gaining valuable skills and knowledge about marine mammal research while working for Cascadia!

Special Projects - Some of our interns work on individual or collaborative research projects during their time with us.

Enrico Corsi



I was born in The Hague, Netherlands, from Italian parents and grew up in the Netherlands and Germany attending international schools. I've always been interested in biology from a very early age and decided it would be my BSc after high school. I studied Biological Sciences at the University of Pisa, Italy, where I spent my curricular internship at a bird ringing facility. I started developing an interest in animal behaviour and marine mammals about halfway through my bachelor degree and spent three months in Walvis Bay, Namibia, doing an internship with the Namibian Dolphin Project soon after graduating. Here, I received training in marine mammal data collection, photo-ID and stranding intervention. I recently graduated from an MSc program in Animal Behaviour from the University of Exeter, UK. My dissertation investigated aggressive behaviour in Southern resident killer whales, supervised by Prof. Darren Croft and Dr. Samuel Ellis. I'll be interning with Cascadia Research Collective for several months while also cooperating in a research project. My current goal is to get as much experience and acquire as many skills as possible in preparation for a PhD.

Past Interns

Summer 2017  

Coral Pasi: US West Coast, Hawai`i and research study on blubber on gray whales

I have lived all over the world thanks to my mother's career in the Air Force. Through all of our travels I always loved when we visited the ocean. My mother always instilled a love for nature and the world around us, especially when we were young. Growing up, we were always involved with volunteer events and outreach programs focusing on environmental conservation topics. I believe all of this helped me decide on a major when it came time to head to college. I went to UNCW for my Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and decided to continue on and get my Master's in Environmental Science from Alaska Pacific University. My thesis work on seasonal blubber store comparisons in beluga whales was recently published in the Journal of Mammalogy and I hope to continue publishing future work. I wanted to come back to the west coast after taking a break at home in Pennsylvania, so I found Cascadia's intern program and it seemed like a great opportunity and a good fit. So far, I love Washington State and I'm continuing to learn more about cetaceans every day here at Cascadia Research Collective.

Kaitlyn Boze: Hawai'i

I am a part of both the U.S. west coast and Hawaii projects working on photo identification. I am majoring in Zoology with a marine emphasis from Oregon State University. I have lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and have always lived near the Puget Sound. I think the many trips to the beach is what influenced me to take on a marine related career path; from going on scavenger hunts to find small crabs under rocks to boating out in the middle of the bay to check out the seals. The marine world has had a positive impact on my life and I hope I can return the favor through my studies and informing others of what’s been discovered. I am excited to be a part of Cascadia Research Collective.

Shelby Yahn: Hawai`i

Shelby first began interning with Cascadia Research Collective in 2015. Her research interests broadly center around marine mammal anatomy and physiology, and how they govern an animal’s behavior. Some specific areas of interest include diving limitations, swimming efficiency, thermoregulation, maternal investment, and sound production. Shelby’s research with Cascadia concerns Hawaiian “blackfish” morphometrics, in which she examines and compares dolphin fin and body dimensions. She uses these measurements to distinguish similar-looking species, identify sex-related characteristics, and plot the growth rates of animals seen during the Hawaiian field projects. Shelby received her MRes in marine mammal science from the University of Saint Andrews in 2012, and conducted her dissertation on algorithms used in dive analysis software. Outside of Cascadia, Shelby has participated in various marine mammal survey, photo-ID, acoustic, necropsy, and rehabilitation projects.

Lisa Hildebrand

I am currently undertaking my Bachelor of Sciences in Marine Zoology at Newcastle University in the U.K. and have joined Cascadia as an intern for the summer to gain valuable insight into the field of marine mammal research. While most of my time will be spent in Olympia working in the U.S. West Coast office, I will also be taking part in several field efforts in Southern California as the ‘bottlenose dolphin person’, as I have experience with bottlenose dolphins, particularly in terms of their photo-ID, from interning for the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute in Sardinia, Italy and along the NW coast of Spain. Although my great passion is to be out in the field, in the wind and waves, searching for cetaceans and surveying them as much as possible, I am really looking forward to learning the intricacies of baleen whale photo identification during my office work in Olympia.

Rachel Wachtendok: Hawai`i

I am a Washington native who will be helping on the Hawai’i project this summer. I recently graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in biology with a marine emphasis. While at Western I researched the foraging habits of harbor seals at a local salmon hatchery. I am excited to be presenting this research at the Society for Marine Mammology conference this fall! During my time at Western I also volunteered with the local marine mammal stranding network, where I was able to assist in harbor seal and harbor porpoise necropsies. One of my hobbies is photography, with my favorite type of photography being wildlife and nature photography. After working with pinnipeds for many years I am looking forward to work with cetaceans with this internship. I plan on taking one year off from school in order to gain more experience before I pursue my Ph.D in marine biology with hopes of working in fisheries science or conservation.

Kadin Woolever: US West Coast

I am a senior environmental studies major at Carleton College in Minnesota. In my free time I hike, bike, run, and rock climb whenever possible. I grew up in coastal Maine, and have been interested in marine and coastal ecosystems from a very young age. This past fall I had the opportunity to study abroad in the Patagonia region of Chile with Round River Conservation Studies, gathering baseline plant and wildlife data for several different wilderness areas in need of greater protection. This was an incredible experience and helped me to realize and focus my interests on wildlife field research. I hope my work with Cascadia this summer will give me a better understanding of the specific methodologies involved with marine mammal research, such as photo-identification and necropsies. I’m also really looking forward to exploring the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, since there are lots of similar aspects to my Atlantic Northeast homeland, but tons of interesting differences.

Iesha Ticknor: US West Coast

I have lived in the Olympia area my whole life, but for the past two years I have lived in Seattle to attend the University of Washington, where I am double majoring in biochemistry and public health. I Although my ultimate goal is to pursue a career in medicine, I have always been passionate about protecting animals and the environment. I believe that the only way someone can truly conserve an ecosystem is by being as knowledgeable as possibly about its inhabitants and abiotic features alike. Therefore, I decided to be a part of this internship because it will allow me to learn more about marine mammals and the impact they have in the ocean biome. I am also looking forward to future ecology and environmental conservation courses I will be taking at UW as part of my public health degree this year. Perhaps it will inspire new goals and passions of mine! That being said, I hope to use the skills and experience I gain with Cascadia and apply them to other research in the future.
Spring 2017  

Chris Williams: Hawai`i

I’m excited to participate in Cascadia’s Hawaii project this spring! I’m originally from the Bay Area, and have had a passion for wildlife since childhood. I developed an even stronger passion for marine biology when I went to high school in the Monterey Bay area. I’m currently a senior at The Evergreen State College, with an emphasis in zoology. My past courses at Evergreen have included: an all year evolutionary ecology course, which allowed me to study abroad in Ecuador, a summer ornithology course, which gave me valuable experience in bird banding, and a vertebrate evolution course. Last spring I interned with Monterey Bay Whale Watch, and assisted in data collection and photo-identification work. During this internship, I also studied the foraging behavior of black-footed albatrosses, particularly their relationship to transient orcas and other marine mammals. I enjoyed the whale watching internship so much that I had to find another way to get involved with cetacean research. This internship is going to give me more experience in cetacean photo-ID work and data collection, as well as experience assisting in local strandings and necropsies. I hope to take the skills I gain with Cascadia and apply them to future research and education.

Cassidy Johnson: US West Coast

I am a Northern California native, who has always desired to be near the ocean. The draw of the sea brought me down to the coast of Southern California where I started my higher education at The Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA studying biological sciences while also volunteering at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and OCC aquarium. After two years at The Orange Coast College, I transferred to The Evergreen State College and will be graduating with a BS in Biology in June of 2017. During my time at TESC I focused my studies on marine sciences, biodiversity, wildlife ecology, and aquarium husbandry, while also having the opportunity to conduct research on marine invertebrate biodiversity on the coast of the Chilean Patagonia. Although my love for wildlife spans across multiple disciplines, my true passion lies with the study of cetaceans. I am so thrilled to be working with Cascadia this spring assisting with photo identification, whale watching excursions, as well as stranding’s and necropsies with the WDFW. Ultimately, I would like to pursue a graduate degree in marine mammal ecology and continue research on Eastern North Pacific whales. 

Hillary Foster: US West Coast


Originally from Virginia Beach, VA, I've always lived near the ocean and have developed a deep love and appreciation for it and the creatures in it, especially cetaceans. I received my bachelor’s degree in biology from Longwood University, located in Farmville, VA. While there, I completed an internship in Fiji, living with the locals and collecting baseline sea cucumber population densities. After graduating, I took a GIS and data management internship position with the manatee department at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Interning there solidified my love for marine mammals and encouraged me to get more involved in marine mammal conservation. At the end of my internship, I decided to move to Washington State to be where all the whale action is. Currently, I work for the Department of Natural Resources in the Aquatic Reserves Division as a member of the Puget SoundCorps. We are part of the Washington Conservation Corps through the Department of Ecology and AmeriCorps. As a member, I, along with my other crew members, collect baseline and trend monitoring data for WA’s 8 aquatic reserves. I am so thrilled and thankful to be interning with Cascadia during my free time. My goal is to obtain my PhD in cetacean conservation and ecology and I believe interning with Cascadia will provide vital experience and knowledge necessary to reach my goals. 
Winter 2017  

Shanon Pead: US West Coast

I can’t remember a time when the ocean wasn’t a big part of my life; I was born by the water, to a family containing 19th century steam ship captains; my favourite films and games as a child contained marine themes and I always secretly wanted to be a mermaid…and when I finally got to choose, oceanography was the obvious career. I studied BSc Marine Biology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) but the closest I came to marine mammals was a brief sighting of a harbour porpoise during a teaching cruise.  My passion for cetaceans prompted a (tenuously linked) dissertation topic involving hagfish after I discovered research into whale food falls ongoing in Monterey Bay, fascination for which took me to the area for an internship in 2002 photographing Blue, Gray and Orca whales during whale watch cruises. During my time there both the food fall research and Orca hunting of baby Grays was filmed for the BBC series The Blue Planet; I felt like I’d arrived as a marine biologist! After studying for my MRes in Newcastle in 2005, attempting to produce antifouling compounds based on marine macroalgae, I began a research career that progressed through biochemistry to molecular biology and analytical chemistry at the universities of Southampton and Bath, culminating in a laboratory based teaching position at the University of the West of England. At 32, comparing summer activities with my students (them - managing conservation activities in islands in Fiji, me - writing risk assessments in a basement office) I realised my career path had deviated too far from my ocean love. I left it all behind in 2014 to volunteer around the world.  Since then, I have travelled the Pacific North West of USA and Canada chasing whale sightings, farmed with families alongside the Southern Resident Killer Whale hunting grounds and helped mend nets in a traditional fishing community in Japan.  I have helped with animal welfare in the Thai islands, with traditional boat restoration in Malaysia, and with surfing and whale conservation communities in mainland Portugal and the Azores.  Now I have come full circle, interning with Cascadia in the PNW after which I hope to continue my marine mammal studies and eventually combine my love of marine conservation with sustainable living, continuing to spread the word of environmental conscience through the empowerment of communities, as I have been lucky enough to have witnessed through volunteering. I hope to inspire the realisation that it is never too late to follow your passions.

Jake Weibe: US West Coast

I’m happy to be helping Cascadia’s West Coast research team match collected photo tags and assist with local strandings as they occur. This is my second time living in Washington! My first venture to the Pacific Northwest took me from the Central Plains states to Seattle, WA, where I studied evolutionary psychology and philosophy at Seattle Pacific University. Initially interested in budding sentience and child psychology, I later refined my studies to focus on general mammal forage behavior and risky-decision making. After graduating, I moved south to grow eco-friendly gardening and beekeeping networks. But I couldn’t stay away from the coast for long, however, and am excited to dive into this spring studying our coastal cetacean societies.

Anita Alessandrini: Hawai'i

I was born and grew up in Italy, where I got my bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Bologna; I decided then to travel for almost one year and afterword I followed my dream and became a Marine biologist by doing the Master program in Portugal at the University of Algarve. During my thesis project (in Madeira Island), I had the opportunity to work on cetaceans and to study their movements by using  the technique of photo identification. I have always loved the ocean and all the creatures living there but after that project I was even more passionate about becoming a marine biologist and I wanted to study better cetaceans in order to can find new way for their conservation, so I decided to participate to the Cascadia Research intern program where I am currently working on photo ID at the Hawaii office and where I have the opportunity to participate as well on stranding and necropsies, which is really interesting. Every day I am learning something new and this validates that I certainly made the right choice.
Fall 2016  

Megan Lewis: Hawai`i

I am currently finishing up my Bachelor of Arts and Sciences at The Evergreen State College where I have been studying biology with a focus on wildlife field research. My main interest is in marine mammal research, but I have had a deep interest in all aspects of marine biology from a young age. As an intern with Cascadia in 2015 I worked on US West Coast photo-ID projects, and now I am back to continue my education through analysis of Hawaiian odontocete field data using GIS and statistics. I plan to continue pursuing a career in research by gaining knowledge and experience through internships and study and hope to someday have a job as a research biologist.

Annabelle Wall: US West Coast

I grew up in Sydney Australia but am now living on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia. I am 22 and have just completed my 3.5 year degree of Environmental Science and Management, majoring in both Sustainability and Marine Science at the University of Newcastle.

My varied interests include wildlife rescue and care, waste management, animal behaviour and communication, these are all great passions of mine. In Australia I am heavily involved in the rescue and release of Australian native wildlife. For the past 2 years I have volunteered, and am currently a committee member for ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans Australia), and am also a wildlife rescue and carer for Australian native wildlife, specialising in Possums, Gliders and Bats with WIRES (Wildlife Information, Research and Education Service Inc.).

In 2013 I participated in my University’s coral regeneration program in Vanuatu, in 2015 I volunteered with wildlife veterinarians in South Africa working closely with Buffalo, Rhino and Giraffe, and in early 2016 I took a trip to Canada and Alaska; and from there I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.

My internship with Cascadia is an amazing opportunity and a great focus for my career path. My goal is to be a Cetologist, specialising in acoustics, communication and behaviour. I know that my experience and knowledge gained through spending time with the researchers at Cascadia will propel me further on my ambition to complete a post-graduate degree in the next few years. 

Kyra McFarlane: US West Coast

Hi! My name is Kyra, and I recently graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz where I received a bachelor’s degree in marine biology. I’m originally from the east coast where I went to primary school in Maryland and North Carolina. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to work with marine mammals, specifically whales and dolphins. After taking a marine mammals course this past spring, I became more determined than ever before to work with cetaceans. In the near future, I’d like to continue my education and work towards a graduate degree in zoology where I can pursue my interests in bioacoustics and the use of different patterns of vocalization in various cetacean species. Specifically, I’d like to look at how vocalizations vary between different species of cetaceans in relation to social systems. I think inferences drawn from these studies could be really interesting to use in conjunction with phylogenetic information. I’m really excited to be working and gaining experience at Cascadia Research. It’s been great so far, and I’m sure I’ll only continue to learn more while here!

Summer 2016  

Elle Walters: Hawai`i

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with a love for animals and nature, and spent most of my time in the water. I recently returned after graduating from the University of Redlands in Southern California where I got my Bachelor's degree. I spent time there researching my favorite animals, bottlenose dolphins, and other marine mammals in the area. I also studied abroad for a semester in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The dive research I did there on turtles, coral, sharks and fish really confirmed that I wanted to pursue marine biology as a career, and I am so excited to continue studying marine mammals here at Cascadia. 

Megan Ryder: Hawai`'i

I’m currently at Plymouth University studying Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology.  I was brought up in the U.k, Paris, and Zambia.  I am working for Cascadia for 6 months and will be collecting data for my dissertation whilst I’m here.  I love to travel and intend on moving around the world with my job in the future. After this I’ve got one more year before I graduate and then I hope to continue my studies in a marine conservation and ecology based field. So far I’m really enjoying my time with Cascadia, and seeing so many fully fledged marine biologists has only increased my drive to get a job with an organization like this in the future. I’m eager to gain as much work experience as I can, in order to start my career in marine conservation as soon as possible. 

Hannah Flotlin: US West Coast

I grew up here in Olympia and was a competitive swimmer for about 11 years. I went to Olympia High School, graduating in 2013. This year I will be going into my senior year at Western Washington University as a marine biology major and anthropology minor. I think my love for animals and nature come from my parents - my mom works for the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildlife biologist and my dad works for REI. I love going camping, hiking, traveling, and pretty much anything outdoors! I am mainly interested in marine mammals, but I have not decided what I would like to focus my career on yet. I am excited to be interning at Cascadia Research Collective, I'm already learning so much.

Hunter Warick: US West Coast

I was born and raised in Olympia, Washington and I have always been interested and excited about nature. I am currently going to Washington State University and I am majoring in zoology. All types of animals interest me and the more I learn about them the more interesting they become. I have volunteered at places like for Heaven's Sake animal rescue and rehabilitation and Wolf Haven, where I have had one on one interactions with many different types of animals. I am interested in working in the conservation of animals that are in the most need, with a particular interest in river ecosystems and the effect that human impact has on them like pollution, damming and over fishing. The reason for this interest is because of my love for river dolphins that live in Asia and South America.   

Ariel Leahy: US West Coast

With a name like Ariel, it’s only fitting that I’m completely entranced with whales and marine life in general. I grew up in coastal South Carolina where I fell in love with the beach and the ocean at an early age. When I was 5, my family moved to the outskirts of Atlanta, GA, but I retained my interest in the ocean and its inhabitants. I am entering my final year at SUNY the College at Brockport, where I am majoring in environmental science and minoring in chemistry. Since my start at Brockport, I have completed a series of internships to help me narrow down what I wish to be focusing on in this field. The summer of 2014, I interned as a zookeeper for a zoo in Charleston, SC. I worked closely with all the animals in the zoo including river otters, black bears, red wolves, bobcats, bison, and vultures. The following summer, 2015, I worked for Cape Ann Whale Watch as an Education and Research intern. Every day I got to conduct behavioral research on the whales we encountered and teach all of the passengers about whales and their environment. This summer, with Cascadia Research Collective, I am doing photo ID work on baleen whales from the west coast and helping with marine mammal stranding response and necropsies. Upon receiving my BS in May, I am looking to attend graduate school to help me attain my future career goals of pairing cetacean behavioral research with stranding response and necropsies, or work in the strand-rescue-and rehabilitation of marine mammals.

Winter 2016  

Tiffany Bachtel

Originally from Colorado, the pull of the ocean brought me to the West Coast. Currently, I am pursuing a degree in higher education at The Evergreen State College where I have begun my third year. At this point, I am working toward a Bachelor of Science degree with emphasis in environmental sustainability. Much of my study has consisted of learning evolutionary and ecological processes. During my first quarter at The Evergreen State College this past fall, I researched aboriginal subsistence whaling in regards to environmental policy. Through Cascadia, I hope to gain experience in the field and to learn of anthropological effects on cetacean populations. Over the course of the internship, I will participate in long-term photo identification of Pacific humpback whales and respond to beach strandings.

Fall 2015  

Charles Boreman

I am currently a senior at Evergreen State College in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree.   My studies are focused around Environmental studies, with a keen interest in marine conservation and field ecology.   My research has been based around intertidal ecology, maritime studies, and economics.  I am interested in gaining more field experience and learning new research techniques while at Cascadia Research Collective.  As an intern, I will be helping with the photo identification of Pacific Humpback whales, to help better understand population dynamics.  I am excited for the opportunity to work with Cascadia Research Collective and look forward to learning more.

Danielle Shorts

I am originally from Arizona where I received my Bachelor’s degree in the Biological Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU). While my interests were primarily in animal sciences, I studied plant and soil ecology with an environmental laboratory. I was eager to jump into any research involving living organisms and our natural surroundings, and this laboratory provided a rich opportunity.  As college progressed, I decided to pursue wildlife research and conservation. I became involved in a variety of wildlife research and conservation efforts including bird rehabilitation and small mammal studies. I became especially passionate in studying birds. Through this internship, I will expand my knowledge on marine mammal behaviors and study methods. I hope to carry these skills into graduate school where I would like to study Marine Biology. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work for Cascadia and adventure into marine mammal research.  This Fall I will be working on photo identification of west coast marine mammals.

Erin Wilde

I’m from central Indiana and am currently a junior at Indiana University, studying geography, biology, and environmental management. At IU, I’m involved in plant ecology research dealing with tall grass prairie restoration and invasive species management. This past summer I interned at a wildlife rehabilitation center and will be continuing as a member of their education team when I return to Indiana. I’m also a representative and writer for the IU Science Writers club. While I’m interested in everything related to the environment, I’ve loved marine mammals as long as I can remember and interning at Cascadia gives me a chance to pursue that passion. After graduation I plan to relocate to the PNW to pursue a Master’s degree in marine affairs or environmental management.

Haley Thiltgen

I just graduated from the University of Redlands in Southern California with a BSc in Biology and a minor in Human and Animal Studies. Throughout my last two years of school, I helped with a project that focused on the effects of human interaction on marine mammals’ behavior and distribution on the California coast. During that time, I learned how to effectively combat seasickness and conducted my own study on California Sea Lion behavior. Last fall, I spent a semester abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands studying marine resource management, where I became an extreme fan of SCUBA diving and living barefoot. I am currently tossing around ideas for graduate school and hoping that the time spent with Cascadia will educate me further in the field and illuminate new ideas for my future.

Spring 2015  

Chloe Newport

I am a senior at The Evergreen State College, studying conservation, zoology, and animal behavior. I am an intern to get more experience in marine biology. I’m excited to get to learn more about the cetaceans that are native to the area. Once I’ve graduated, I hope to do work in conservation or zoology. Eventually this will lead to graduate work. 

Shelby Yahn

I graduated with an MRes in marine mammal science from the University of Saint Andrews, UK, and a BSc in marine biology and psychobiology from the University of New England, ME. I am fascinated by the intricate physiology of marine mammals and their complex behaviors, and figuring out how to piece these puzzles together is what inspires and motivates me. I have a broad variety of experience in this field, ranging from seals to whales, boat to land to aerial surveys, photo-ID to dive analysis, and necropsy to animal rehabilitation. I am excited to learn new research techniques at Cascadia Research Collective get connected with current invaluable research. Spending time with the staff at Cascadia Research Collective has been a dream come true.

Melisa Pinnow

I grew up on San Juan Island and was always interested in the wildlife that resides there. After becoming passionate about the Southern Resident killer whales, I become a certified marine naturalist, started working on whale watching boats, began volunteering with local orca researchers, and started a website. I am now a sophomore at The Evergreen State College and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in 2017. While at Cascadia, I hope to learn more about Hawaiian odontocetes and odontocete/mysticete identification methods, as well as make connections that will last a lifetime.

Anna Hunter

I graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway in May of 2014, with a BSc. in Marine Science. I have interned with Marine Life Studies in Monterey Bay, CA for almost two years now, mainly collecting and inputting data on humpback and killer whales that is collected on the water. I did my final year research thesis on the recruitment success of the barnacle species Semibalanus balanoides after assisting in a long-term project on this species at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. I also volunteered on a humpback behavioural project in Australia last September. I am hoping to undertake an MSc this coming September and my ultimate goal is to commit to the conservation of cetaceans, with a focus on humpbacks and killer whales, through research.

Winter 2015  

Heather Gibons

I graduated from the University of Washington in June 2014, with a B.S. degree in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, as well as a minor in Marine Biology.  I am working as an intern to gain experience in marine mammal science and conservation, in pursuit of future graduate studies related to cetaceans.  I have previous research experience in the Salish Sea, where I completed my senior thesis on seabird feeding flock composition changes.  I also have experience at the U.W.’s otolith lab.  I’m really excited to learn more about West Coast mysticetes as well as Hawaii pilot whales!

Talia Bailey

I am a Rhode Island native currently in school at The Evergreen State College. I am a killer whale fanatic and would love to do work involved in marine or wildlife conservation in the future. I heard about Cascadia while reading the book 'Death at Seaworld' and have been looking forward to interning with them since then. I will be graduating in one year, and hopefully will move on to work in benefitting the lives of animals in some way.

Megan Lewis

I discovered my passion for marine life and the ocean when I was eleven years old. Since then, I have diverged from that path many times, but I always seem to be drawn back to it. Growing up in California I had many opportunities to explore ocean ecosystems. I volunteered for about 3 years at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a Teen Conservation Leader, and since moving to Washington I have attended the Whale Museum of Friday Harbor’s Marine Naturalist Training and volunteered at the South Sound Estuary Association. I am a member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists. I will graduate from The Evergreen State College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree. I have most often found myself on the education side of marine science, yet have always wanted to be in the world of research. With my time at Cascadia I hope to increase my knowledge of cetaceans, make connections for future work in this area, and help Cascadia create an educational display for the SSEA.

Walker Hedrick

Walker Hedrick is a senior at Western Washington University, set to graduate with a BS in Environmental Science after this quarter.  He has lived in Olympia almost all his life except for his school years in Bellingham and has always been interested in the Puget Sound.  He hopes to use his degree and skills to improve the quality of the ecosystem of the Sound and to protect and study the marine mammals that live in it.

Fall 2014  

Jennifer Welch

For a couple decades I have been intrigued by cetaceans, but felt far from the source growing up in southern Wisconsin.  While pursuing a BA in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I I took a handful of biology classes (including a few marine) that led to a biology minor.  After graduation. I had a two week internship in Maui with the Ocean Mammal Institute, looking at the response of humpback whales to ocean vessels.  With a growing obsession, I decided to also complete a BS in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with an emphasis on marine biology and freshwater ecology.  After spending a year in Australia, I began this internship with Cascadia. My first couple weeks as an intern have involved helping Natasha Milne with her unique research on the seasonality of cookie cutter sharks by assessing bites on the collection of pilot whale photos from Hawaii. I continue to have a strong curiosity for the intellect and behavior of cetaceans, as well as a concern for the health of our valuable marine ecosystems.  My future is open to a master’s degree and/or positions that arise within these areas.

Taylor Hersh

I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University this past May with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Psychology, along with an Environmental Science minor. I am currently taking a gap year that I hope to fill with internships and other great learning opportunities before applying to marine biology PhD programs. While my past experiences include a sea turtle hospital, aquarium, and marine labs, I have never had the chance to study cetaceans. Cascadia is finally giving me that opportunity!

Jessie Richter

I graduated from the University of New England in May 2013 with a B.S degree in Marine Biology. I have always been fascinated by baleen whales, especially humpbacks, and this love for other marine mammals grew while volunteering at UNE's Marine Animal Rehabilitation and Conservation program.  I am currently working on the humpback whale catalog at Cascadia and hope to attend graduate school next fall. I would like to eventually have some type of career in marine mammal conservation.

Nathan Harrison

I will graduate from Evergreen State College in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of science in biology.  My passion for the conservation of marine life is what inspired my interest in Cascadia’s work. I plan to use my education to contribute to marine research and existing projects in western Washington, specifically in the greater Puget Sound.

Summer 2014  

Julia Glassy

This fall I will be a senior at Pacific Lutheran University majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Biology. After graduating I plan to go on to get a master's degree in marine biology with an emphasis on conservation.  I have always lived in the Puget Sound area which inspired my passion for marine animals and conservation. My interests and education goals led me to an internship at Cascadia Research where I work on the Hawaii catalogs, with a focus on Tursiops. I am also supporting past field projects. I look forward to pursuing my interests in conservation issues and marine animals.

Tom Egdorf

I graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2012 with a BS in Zoology. I have interests in marine conservation and large cetacean behavioral ecology, particularly how anthropogenic forces may influence their communication and feeding behaviors. These interests brought me to Cascadia where much research has been done in this field. I plan to pursue a Masters degree as my next step.

Jessica Christian

Jessica Christian is a senior at Saint Martin’s University and will graduate in the spring of 2015 with a Bachelor’s of science in biology. She is planning on attending Medical School after she graduates in pursuit of becoming an Oncologist. Jessica is interested in the field of marine biology and wants to gain experience in other fields of biology. She is currently working on photo I.D. matching of humpback and blue whales.

Spring 2014  

Clinton Stipek

Clinton is finishing up his bachelor’s degree in oceanography at the University of Washington with plans to pursue a master degree. He has particular interest in the biology of the Puget Sound and Pacific Ocean that led to him applying to the internship at Cascadia Research. His current duties include humpback whale identification as well as hydro-acoustic identification of humpback and blue whales. 

Valentina Melica

I am Valentina Melica. I graduated from the University of Trieste, Italy, with a master degree in Environmental biology with marine emphasis. My research experience has been mostly focused on plankton ecology, specifically Phytoplankton and Cnidarian polyps. During my master program, I spent one semester at Western Washington University, where I got the chance to study marine mammals.  After the University I gained some experience working as trainee aquarist. Interning at Cascadia is my first research experience on cetaceans and I am currently working on Humpback and gray whale photo-identification. In the future I am hoping to improve knowledge on physiology and anatomy of marine mammals, possibly getting a graduate degree, and work with stranding and rehabilitation.

Erin Stehr

Erin graduated from Western Washington University with a BS in Biology in 2012. During her time there she developed a project studying harbor seal predation of salmonids returning to a local hatchery specifically looking behavioral specializations in ‘rogue’ individuals. Since graduating she has continued to pursue marine biology related experiences. Most recently she worked at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, a rehabilitation center in Southern California. While there, she aided with the rehabilitation efforts providing animal care as well as public outreach and instructed children about marine debris. Erin is excited to be back in the Pacific Northwest and interning with Cascadia Research Collective. She looks forward to continuing to pursue her interests in combining research with public outreach and education as well as furthering her own education.

Fall 2013  

Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter graduated from Carleton College in June 2013 with a degree in biology and a concentration in biochemistry.  She has a strong interest in cetacean research and conservation which she is excited to explore in her internship with Cascadia Research.  Sarah is passionate about science education and will be serving in Ghana with the Peace Corps in 2014 teaching science and math to high school students.  Ultimately, she plans on pursuing a career in marine science and conservation.

Summer 2013  

Keygan Sands

Keygan Sands is currently a student at the Evergreen State College focusing primarily on marine science. She is from Wisconsin, and despite being landlocked for most of her life has always been fascinated by marine life--especially cetaceans. Working on humpback whale photo identification as an intern at Cascadia is her first opportunity for research experience, and she hopes to continue cetacean research and the study of marine biology long into the future.

Alex Biswas

Alex Biswas is a student at Washington State University majoring in Wildlife Ecology. She plans to pursue her Graduate degree after traveling and participating in research abroad. Her experience at Cascadia is preparing her for a future in the marine ecology field.

Sierra Hemmig

I'm currently a student at the Evergreen State College and will be graduating in 2014 with a major in ecology. Interning with Cascadia is my first experience studying marine biology and I'm working on photo-identification of melon-headed whales during the summer. In the future I'm hoping to work in the field on endangered species conservation. I dabble in photography and DIY projects in my free time.

Spring 2013  

Anna Robbins

Anna Robbins is an Evergreen State College graduate with a degree in biology. Her passions include the behavior of Antarctic killer whales, ship strike research and helping to reduce marine debris. Anna is planning on attending UBC in British Columbia Canada in the near future to obtain a masters degree in marine biology. Her current internship at Cascadia Research is working on humpback and blue whale photo-identification.

Amanda Phillips

Amanda Phillips graduated from the University of Washington with a BS in Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences.  Currently, she is working with the University of Washington’s Conservation Biology department, researching the causes of decline in southern resident killer whales and the effects of oil development on caribou, moose and wolf in Alberta.  She is currently an intern at Cascadia, getting some humpback and gray whale photo-identification experience between field seasons.
Winter 2013  

Caitlin McGinty

Caitlin McGinty is a BSc student at the Evergreen State College where her emphasis of study is in biological science. She has particular interest in marine and freshwater ecosystems and anthropomorphic influences on aquatic environments. She aspires to pursue further study in the Masters in Environmental Studies program at TESC. She is currently participating in ongoing humpback and blue whale photo identification at Cascadia Research.

Kara Quirke

Kara Quirke is excited to be an intern with Cascadia Research.  She is a senior at Evergreen State College where she studies environmental sciences and has had a growing interest in marine biology since moving to the PNW.

2012 Interns

Lindsay Anderson
Serena Hubert
Juliana Englander
Amanda Lockhart
John Rorback
​Kirsty Medcalf
Debbie Sharpe
Ryan Kruse
Sean Goodside
Alex Phillips
Caitlin Mcginty
Kara Quirke

2011 Interns

Elana Dobson
Erin Kincaid
​Alexandre Vanderzee
​Heather Conkerton
Anna Freedman
Dave Anderson
Emily Buettner

2010 Interns

Katrina Olthof
Megan Warren
Katy Laveck
Kate Janes
​Alie Perez
Cindy Just
Kyle Neiser
Lisa Abdulghani
Kelly Cunningham

2009 Interns

Erin Keene
​Corina Leahy
Christine Davis
​Callan Price
Keaton Cox
Kelli Stingle
Laura Coogan
​Brytni Lawrence
​Perrine LeFaou

2008 Interns

Minna Kangas
Emily Whitmer
Claire Burke
​Lill Luce
​Ilana Berry
Kelly Cunningham
Daniel Laggner

2007 Interns

Leslie Russel
Jeremy Lucas
Sara McClelland
Bethany Diehl
Millie Brower

2006 Interns

Kwasi Addae
Alexis Rudd
Zoe Froyland
Kristi Ka'apu
Jennifer Hackett
Katrina Thiessen
Alexandra Safiq-Jorand

2005 Interns

Aaron Barna
​Cammie Crowder
Amber Klimek
Veronica Iriarte

Early Years

Ulrike Wolfe (2004)
Lisa Hjelm ('95)
Suzanne DeClerk ('95)
Peter Rudolf ('92)
Jennifer Quan ('92)
​Kiirsten Flynn ('92)
Dave Ellifrit
Tara Chestnut
Joy Sales
Emily Walton
Dan Smith
Darcy Bristow
Cherrish Morrison-Price
Ted Hart
Rene (Yoko) Mensing
Jason Angus
Amber Luvmour
Rene Devito
Annie Douglas
Wade Jerdee
Shannon Wilhite
Nicole Stagner
Heather Medic
Hannah Smith
Natasha Bodorff
Megan Hess
Lindsey Fauss
Sheryl Lapp
Julia Erickson
Anne Nelson
Celva Boon
Kristine Endsley
JR Veldink
Heidi Faken
Jane Truman
Eileen Kelly
Danielle Osborne
Beth Phillips
Randy Lumper
Nate Donley
Moira Morel
Alyssa Farrell
Amanda Kaplan
Fiona Johnston
Shellie Ogilvy
EJ Etherington
Heather Weidenhoft
Brooke Smith
Nora Moloney
Suzanne Stricker
Dominique Camacho