Coll Perske Memorial Fund for Marine Mammals Student Research Award: Call for Applications

On April 28, 2014, we lost an amazing friend and colleague, Coll Gordon Perske. To honor Coll’s life and unwavering dedication to marine mammals, the National Marine Mammal Foundation established the Coll Perske Memorial Fund for Marine Mammals. The mission of the fund is to improve the lives of marine mammals, with a focus on California sea lions, through scientific research, education, and promotion of ocean stewardship. The first project launched by the Coll Perske Memorial Fund is the Perske Pinniped Health Project. The Perske Pinniped Health Project will focus on research that continues to enhance the health and welfare of all pinnipeds, with a special emphasis on the California sea lion.

Program Description

This year, the Coll Perske Memorial Fund committee has elected to provide a student stipend of $2000.00 to a qualified undergraduate, recently graduated, or graduate student interested in marine mammal physiology and training. The study chosen for the Perske Pinniped Health project this year is a sea lion diving physiology and training project that Coll Perske helped collect data for while working as a U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program sea lion trainer. For this study pre and post dive blood samples were acquired voluntarily from 4 adult male sea lions after diving to various depths (500 ft, 600 ft, 800 ft and 900 ft). Blood samples were then analyzed using iSTAT (CG4, CG8) to obtain blood gas information. The award recipient will work with Dr. Sam Ridgway to evaluate the methodology and data previously collected for this project.

In addition to working with Dr. Ridgway, the student will also have the opportunity to spend time working with the sea lion training staff, and some of the animals that participated in the data collection for this study. By the end of their time onsite, the student will have gained exposure to working with the National Marine Mammal Foundation and the U.S Navy Marine Mammal Program. They will also have gained a better understanding of marine mammal training as a research tool. It is our expectation the award recipient will present the results of this project by the end of their time onsite, as well as at a related conference within the following year. Ideally, this project will also result in a publication in an appropriate peer reviewed scientific journal.

Due Date:
• Applications are to be submitted by April 26, 2016. Applications must be sent to the Director of Education, Erika Putman at and the subject line must state “Coll Perske Memorial Fund Student Research Award 2016”.

• Undergraduate student or recently graduated individual interested in gaining research experience. Graduate students will also be considered.
• Must be a U.S. citizen
• Ability to spend a minimum of 2 months onsite at our facility in San Diego, CA. (start date is flexible and to be determined by the award recipient, Dr. Sam Ridgway and the Coll Perske Memorial Fund committee)

Application Requirements:
• Letter of intent detailing how this opportunity will benefit the applicant’s career goals and specifically why this project is of interest to them
• Student’s curriculum vitae
• Official school transcripts
• Three references with e-mail address, phone number, and relationship to applicant

Award recipient will be announced by May 18, 2016.