Ross Nichols | M.S. Student

Institute of Marine Sciences


  • University of California Santa Cruz, B.S. Marine Biology, 2012
  • University of California Santa Cruz, M.S. Student, Ocean Sciences Department


  • Bio-Telemetry and Behavioral Ecology Laboratory-Winter 2017 - Present
    • Research Technician / M.S. Student- Supervisor: Dr. Ari Friedlaender

Field technician stationed at Palmer Station, Antarctica from Dec 2017 – April 2018. Daily duties included: operation of small rigid hull inflatable boats to survey large cetaceans, biopsy of cetaceans via crossbow with photo identification of distinguishing features, assistant to drone fly-overs for photogrammetry, active acoustic measurements of underwater prey field using SIMRAD echosounders.

  • Southall Environmental Associates, Inc.-Spring – Winter 2017/18
    • Associate Scientist II- Supervisor: Dr. Brandon Southall

Technician for multiple psychoacoustic experiments involving captive pinnipeds. Duties include calibration and measurement of test signals and ambient noise in experimental enclosures using microphones and hydrophones, care and operation of acoustic equipment, ambient noise analysis using MATLAB and PRISM software, general carpentry and construction, CCTV camera system setup, wiring and database management, and the development of internal protocols and weekly reports. Other duties include IT support (computer construction, repair, software installation, networking).

  • Point Blue Conservation Science, Southeast Farallon Island-Winter 2016/17           
    • Biological Research Intern and Thermography Project Lead-Supervisor: Ryan Berger

In addition to duties performed in Winter 2016, I developed an experimental protocol for a pilot thermography study with the Northern elephant seal colony. This involved the setup and maintenance of a satellite weather station, infrared camera, and database. I developed and implemented a photo identification protocol and database for the individual identification of seals using ACDSee Pro 10 software. I trained new interns on the use of the thermography study protocol and photo identification system. Led field necropsies on N. elephant seals, including morphometric and biological sampling procedures. All duties were performed in a remote field setting and an extreme weather environment.

               Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program-Spring - Summer 2016

    • Biological Research Assistant – French Frigate Shoals Atoll-Supervisor: Lizabeth Kashinsky

Monitored the Hawaiian Monk Seal breeding population on the French Frigate Shoals atoll through long-term ecological survey techniques. Surveys involved tag resights and photo identification of individuals using identifiable markings. Small boat operation between islets including open water transits, shallow water maneuvering, mooring, docking, and boat hoist operation. Remote solar and battery system setup, management, repair, and maintenance. Experience restraining adult and juvenile seals with hoop net, flipper tagging, satellite tagging, PIT tagging, biopsy sampling, and drug administration. Daily upkeep of databases using excel, access, and ACDSee Pro.


  • Point Blue Conservation Science, Southeast Farallon Island- Winter, 2016
    • Biological Research Intern- Supervisor: Ryan Berger

Monitored the Farallon Islands Northern Elephant seal colonies throughout the breeding season. Seals were identified through tag resights or unique scar markings. Surveyed attendance, behavioral budgeting, and nursing habits daily. Gained experience with roto-tagging, restraint, and morphological assessment of seal weaners. Other daily duties included identification of seabirds and terrestrial birds, salamander population and morphology surveys, cetacean surveys, cricket population surveys, and pinniped fecal diet analysis. Upkeep and maintenance of the field station encompassed the water pumping and filtration systems, photovoltaic system, basic carpentry, and septic systems maintenance. Biweekly boat resupplies required electric crane hoist operation of both cargo and personnel.


  • Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory, UC Santa Cruz - Fall 2015 – Fall 2018
    • Marine Mammal Research Technician -Supervisor: Dr. Colleen Reichmuth

In addition to duties performed as a Research Assistant (2012 – 2015, below) I trained and managed interns and volunteers to complete daily research and husbandry tasks, and assisted as a technician on several psychoacoustic and sensory system experiments (experimental design, setup, data management, analysis, report writing)

  • Alaska Sea Life Center, Marine Mammal Research Department Summer, 2015
    • Marine Mammal Research Intern  Supervisor: Dr. Lori Polasek

Performed Steller sea lion hormone analyses via fecal, and blood serum; blubber depth measurements through ultrasound; morphological growth measurements of pinnipeds under anesthesia; dentition growth analysis; blood collection, processing, and storage in freezers and dewars; vaginal cytology, cell staining, and epithelial cell identification; and walrus disturbance analysis through photometric processing.


  • Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory, UC Santa Cruz 2012—2015
    • Research AssistantSupervisor: Dr. Colleen Reichmuth

Responsibilities included the care and training of six species of marine mammals, water quality analysis and water systems management, record keeping, husbandry report preparation, diet preparation, administration of animal medications, performance of routine health exams, and general facilities maintenance. Gained research experience with bioacoustics equipment (calibration, data collection, analysis).

  • SWFSC Fisheries Ecology Division’s Rockfish Recruitment and Ecosystem Assessment-Spring, 2014
    • Krill Biologist - Supervisor: Cynthia Carrion

Krill biologist aboard vessel-based survey; responsibilities included krill sample collection in alcohol and formaldehyde, species identification by microscope, and recording and reporting of all data. Night trawling for rockfish surveys involved subsampling and species identification of various fishes and invertebrates. Gained experience with net towing procedures, sample collection, cleaning, and upkeep.

  • Marine Mammal & Seabird Field Research Course, New Zealand -Spring, 2012
    • Student-Supervisor: Dr. Bernd Würsig

Application of shore and boat-based research techniques with cetaceans, pinnipeds, and seabirds. Research planning, field data collection and analysis, report writing, cetacean photo identification, theodolite operation, GPS marking and archiving, equipment maintenance and care, and data entry.

  • UC Santa Cruz Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department-2011—2013
    • Research Assistant  - Supervisor: Melinda Conners

Albatross research project (laboratory responsibilities, data entry and analysis)