Extended Internships


John Rainey


Degree: Major in Marine Science

Education: Coastal Carolina University

Citizenship: U.S.

Language: Fluent in both English and French

Research Experience: 

I came to MCERC in 2014 for one week and was asked to stay on as an extended intern until 2015.  In the summer of 2014, I participated in a summer marine ichthyology field-intensive program at the University of Southern Mississippi.  I have also worked as an intern with the plankton monitoring program at Coastal Carolina University.



I obtained my core Curriculum at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville then proceeded to work towards my Marine Science degree at Coastal Carolina University.



I grew up fishing and scuba diving with my grandfather along the coast of the Mediterranean in southern France (Port Vendres; Banyuls-sur-mer) and Spain (Catalunya).  This is where my passion for the sea began, and it's where I aspire to continue my education in the near future.  I hope to aid in breaching the barrier between scientists and local fisherman there in order to drive more efficient regulations.



Sarah Steele


University: University of Oregon

Degree: Bachelor of Science Marine Biology

Residency: Anchorage, Alaska

Citizenship: USA

Languages: English


"I will never forget my experiences with MCERC. This simple one week field intensive managed to teach me more than I’ve learned in entire semesters. I learned about humpback whales, Puerto Rico, and the ecology of the island as well as how to live in a field house and cooperate with others while conducting this type of field work. I learned about the struggles it takes to make everything work out in the field and how rewarding it is when you are able to collect the data needed. More than that, I learned a great deal about myself and my future. My time here has modified my thinking on a professional and personal level and that I will take with me throughout my life. "


Joel Robinson


Research Interests:

Although I love studying life as a whole, my passion lies with marine mammals and in particular, cetaceans. My passion has lead to my experience studying killer whales (Orcinus orca), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). My goal is to continue to develop my knowledge in the world of marine mammalogy. I will pursue more education and experiences to expand on my knowledge and skills so that I may help educate others on the importance of our ocean life around the world.



I attended Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario where I obtained my honours degree in biology. In my 4th year, I participated in a dedicated field course at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick where I completed a study on dive durations for the fin whale and North Atlantic Right Whale in the Bay of Fundy with data that I had collected from the field. After graduation, I spent time travelling and connecting with MCERC and the humpback whale project where I have gained field experience in data collection, acoustical analysis, ecology, and education.



Born in Southwestern Ontario, I grew up near Lake Huron with a love for water and sports. Playing sports since the age of 4, I have always loved being active and keeping busy. Besides spending quality time with my wonderful family and friends, my interests include travelling, playing my guitar, writing, and painting.

Working in a software development organization has provided me with the skill set needed to design and develop the MCERC website. If you have any questions or would like to contact me, please use the form on the “Contact Us” page at www.Marine-Eco.org

Lorena (Rena) Elser

Degree: Sophomore- Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology

Education:  Texas A&M University at Galveston, USA

Primary Residence: Kirbyville, Texas, USA

Primary Citizenship: USA

Languages: English

Research Interests:

I am interested in environmental ecology, behavioral ecology, conservation biology, and environmental education. 


I am currently an undergraduate at Texas A&M University at Galveston  (TAMUG) double majoring in Marine Biology and Marine Fisheries. In November 2010 I began an internship under Mithriel MacKay with the Marine Mammal Research Program studying longevity of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Galveston-Houston ship channels, and assisting in the Humpback Whale Research Project. Spring 2011, I began work in the marine botany lab assisting in the study of the relationship between  rupia and milfoil. I also maintain a job as a student worker for oyster biologist, Dr. Sammy M. Ray. 


I was born in Texas and call Kirbyville (a small town in the south east part of the state) home. 

I am an active member of SCUBA club and the Animal Husbandry Association at Texas A&M University at Galveston.  My personal goals include pursuing a career in marine biology that will keep me traveling!


Greg Larsen


Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Biology

Primary Residence: Connecticut

Primary Citizenship: USA

Languages: English, Latin, and limited proficiency in Mandarin 

Research Interests:

I am currently exploring animal behavior and ecology, with a focus on marine mammalogy, through internships and technician work, before I hope to continue my studies toward an advanced degree. I hope to explore the dynamics of mammal behavioral ecology in ways that expand our understanding of animal habitat use and may further inform conservation techniques and strategies. 


In spring 2010 I graduated with high honors from Middlebury College, Vermont, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology. During my four years of undergraduate studies, Middlebury’s liberal arts curriculum gave me a broad understanding of biology and a variety of other fields, which continues to inform and contextualize my experiences in professional and academic endeavors. In 2010 I completed an honors thesis examining how testosterone affects behavior and memory in adult male rats performing a spatial learning task.  I have continued to pursue opportunities to study animal behavior, with more emphasis on an ecological scale. Since 2006, I have been employed professionally as a biological technician under a variety of institutions, including the US Forest Service, the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, and multiple private contracting companies.


I passionately enjoy traveling to new places and cultures, and I have had the opportunity to do so since my early childhood, which was split between Hong Kong and my family’s current home in Connecticut. I am happy spending my free time outdoors, running, hiking, swimming, or snorkeling, but I am also content to stay indoors, tinkering with hardware and software. I have been very fortunate, with regard to the valuable academic and professional experiences that have been made available to me, and I am looking forward to what the future has in store for me.

Brielle Morton

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Conservation Studies

Education:  University of New Hampshire, New Jersey, USA

Primary Residence: New Jersey

Primary Citizenship: USA 

Languages: English

Research Interests:

My research goals include marine conservation with a focus on anthropogenic impacts to whales. The internship at MCERC provided  me with an opportunity to analyze behavioral and acoustic data, taking the lead as a mentor for marine policy and  law instructing students and other interns participating in the Humpback Whale Project. 


I graduated from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Conservation Studies.  While at UNH my studies included ecology and biology, environmental law, and environmental policy.  I have experience in marine education by interning at the Boston Aquarium where I focused on the sustainability of the lobster industry.  I also have previous experience researching blue whales off the coast of Southern California.  I am  trained on species identification including humpback, blue, fin, and minke whales.  I also created a project based on this blue whale research project.


I was born and raised in the small town of Highland Lakes, New Jersey.  I love it there, but I also love going on adventures.  I’ve recently spent some time in California and previously travelled around New Zealand.  I am excited to add Puerto Rico to my adventures.

Brooke McConnell

Degree: Bachelor of Science, Biology.

Education: University of British Colombia Okanagan; 

                    University of Canterbury; Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC).

Residency: Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

Citizenship: Canadian

Languages: English, Intermediate Spanish

Research Interests:

My interests pertain mostly to conservation biology and reducing anthropogenic impacts on fragile ecosystems. My goal in interning at MCERC is to gain experience in marine biology and increase my knowledge of humpback whales.  In this internship my interest in behavioural ecology has already grown and I am very keen to learn more about cetaceans. I also hope to continue my studies on marine invertebrates, particularly on nudibranchs and ctenophores.


I recently completed my Bachelor of Science with a Major in Biology from UBC Okanagan. During my degree I was given the chance to study abroad and I took that opportunity to go to the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. There I studied New Zealand Biodiversity, the native Maori language, and animal ecophysiology. I  received a scholarship to attend BMSC off the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, where I sparked my passion for field studies. My education on coastal biodiversity and conservation there included work on removing invasive dune grass at Pacific Rim National Park, aiding in the survival of threatened amphibian species, educating students and the community on eelgrass ecosystem destruction, learning beach seining techniques, identifying seaweeds (particularly invasive species), and setting up algorithms for creating marine protected areas. In 2013 I took an all intensive field ornithology course in the Okanagan and confirmed that I want to learn and educate others. I hope to continue my education by obtaining a master’s degree in conservation biology/marine research.


I have a very active lifestyle that includes hiking, bird-watching, skiing, all-mountain biking, baseball, etc. I am  improving in scuba diving and surfing whenever I can get to the ocean.  I enjoy working with animals of all kinds, spending many hours at the Los Cabos Humane society and I will continue to volunteer my time. I have a passion for travelling and learning new things so I hope to do much more in upcoming years.  

Tasia Blough

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Languages: English

"I am a Boston native and have been a naturalist for the New England Aquarium Whale Watch for the past 3 years. I have long wanted to visit the whales we see every day throughout the feeding season down in their breeding grounds. In addition to fulfilling this dream, MCERC has given me the opportunity to build upon my field research skills and become familiar with state of the art cetacean research technology. I look forward to moving forward in my career with a broader understanding of the North Atlantic humpback whale population. I am excited to bring back cutting edge research techniques that will allow us to fine tune our research protocols on board our whale watches. It has been an amazing learning experience and especially fantastic being surrounded by people that share my love for the ocean and all the life it sustains."

Follow us on social media!