Fellowships for College Students

The Aquarium offers fellowship opportunities in marine science, animal care, exhibits and education to college or post-graduate students. These fellowships include a stipend to help offset personal and incidental expenses. Batten Fellowships fund students to complete work in specific projects and programs. Applications are now being accepted for the following positions.


Exhibits and Husbandry Division

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's Exhibits and Husbandry Division is offering Batten Fellowships in the fishes, herpetology and mammals sections during the winter/spring of 2016. Fellows are expected to bring a higher level of dedication and scientific interest to their work and will be integrated more fully into staff activities. Successful candidates are also expected make significant contributions to the goals of the Exhibits and Husbandry Division. Click on the positions below to review details.

Fishes Section

Available during the 2016 winter/spring session; January - May. This position focuses on the Aquarium's touch pool operation collection. The application deadline is September 1, 2015.

About the Project

Elasmobranch Touch Pool Water Quality Study

Elasmobranch touch pools are popular public aquarium exhibits. They bring visitors hand to fin with the ocean's most charismatic creatures. No studies have been conducted to date that investigate how guests placing hands and arms into touch pool systems affect the overall water quality of the touch pool. This study will examine whether there are significant changes in touch pool water quality that can be attributed to guest activity.

  • Fellow will collaborate on the study focusing on guest impact on water quality of elasmobranch touch pools.
  • Fellow will assist curatorial staff in the development of and data collection for the project.
  • Fellow will develop methods, collect data, and assist with preliminary data analysis.
  • Fellow will develop protocols based on the results of the initial study to expand the study to other AZA accredited institutions managing elasmobranch touch pools.
  • Completed work will be combined with future data collected from the expanded study and presented at industry conferences and published in industry periodicals.

Candidates Must Meet the Following Requirements

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must be a rising college junior or senior, recent graduate or be pursuing a post-graduate degree in a science-based program
  • Must have demonstrated pursuit of a career in marine science, aquaculture, zoo and aquarium management or veterinary science through college course work
  • Must have sound, basic math and computer skills using MS spreadsheets, database utilization, creation and data entry
  • Must have a valid U.S. drivers license and good driving record
  • Must be able to swim and be comfortable in and around open water
  • Must be self-motivated and able to perform activities alone or as part of a team
  • Must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds and assist with lifting and moving larger loads
  • Must be able to work in extreme conditions (high heat, cold, humidity)
  • SCUBA certification is not required

Schedule

  • The Elasmobranch Touch Pool Water Quality Assessment Fellowship should start no later than January 10, 2016 (winter session) or March 1, 2016 (spring session).
  • Working on site during the week, weekends and holidays during normal operating hours is necessary for data collection. The data collection schedule will be determined in collaboration with fellow and curatorial staff.

Expectations Overview

  • Fellows will perform data entry of a particular data set as the primary goal of their fellowship experience.
  • Batten Fellows will be expected to work with their Virginia Aquarium supervisor to develop an appropriate database for the organization of the data set they are assigned.
  • Fellows will be regularly incorporated into husbandry duties that support their understanding of the data with which they are working.
  • Fellows will give an oral (MS PowerPoint) presentation summarizing the preliminary data results of their work at the conclusion of the fellowship
  • Fellow will complete a survey/exit interview.
  • It is the responsibility of the Batten Fellow, not fellowship supervisor, to ensure that any requirements for academic credit at a home institution are fulfilled.

Materials Required in Application Packet
Incomplete application packets will not be considered.

  • Cover Letter
  • A completed Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center internship application form
  • Resume
  • A letter stating applicant's desired session (winter or spring) and expectations of the fellowship
  • (2) Letters of Recommendation (one must be from an advisor or professor who can speak to your academic background)
  • Official transcript(s) detailing completed course work to date and GPA

Selection Process

The fellow should be a highly self-motivated, detail-oriented, well- organized individual with an interest in pursuing a career in aquarium science, marine animal husbandry, marine biology or a related field. Candidates will be selected based on their interview, completed coursework to date, GPA, related experience detailed by his or her resume and supported by letters of reference and expectations letter.

Application Deadline

Application deadline for both winter and spring 2016 session is September 1, 2015. Notification of acceptance will occur no later than November 1, 2015.

Candidates may submit a general internship application and note their interest in being considered for the Elasmobranch Touch Pool Water Quality Assessment Batten Fellowship on the application and in their required letter of interest. Applications are available Virginia Aquarium's website:

Download Application

Forward your completed application packet to:

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
717 General Booth Boulevard
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451
Attn: Volunteer Resources Office – Batten Fellow Applicant

Applicants not accepted for a Batten Fellowship position will have the option of being considered for a general internship (no stipend) with the Exhibits and Husbandry Division, if interested. Applicants also interested in the possibility of a general internship are encouraged to include this information with the Batten Fellowship application packet OR complete a separate internship application.

Herpetology Section

Available during the 2016 winter/spring session; January 15 – April 30. While this fellowship will focus on the Aquarium's Komodo dragon collection, it may also include enrichment efforts with other herpetological specimens as time permits. The application deadline is October 15, 2015.

About the Project

Komodo Dragon and Reptile Enrichment Assessment

This fellowship will be supplemented by a $3,000 stipend to offset a portion of personal and incidental expenses to accomplish Fellowship goals. The stipend payment schedule will occur every two weeks when staff checks are issued. Stipend funds will be broken up in to even payments throughout the fellowship session.

The selected candidate will:

  • • Evaluate, develop and/or enhance the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's enrichment program for its collection of Komodo dragons and other selected herpetological specimens
  • • Assess the effectiveness of the program and develop new efforts during the fellowship
  • • Determine what forms of enrichment are the most effective for these species and explain how and why you have come to these conclusions
  • • If necessary, under the guidance of assigned supervisor and curator, create a means to permanently carry out enrichment efforts for these species through a schedule

Duties to Help Accomplish Objective

  • Evaluate current enrichment program; if one exists. If a program does exists and enrichment items are offered, assess and determine which of these creates stimulation for each of the Aquarium's Komodo dragons.
  • Key considerations are: 1) understanding the process of selection, construction and introduction of new enrichment items and 2) evaluating the impact of these items on the animals. Do the animals respond to these items and if so, how, when and for how long?
  • Near the end of the fellowship, fellow will create at least one new enrichment item. Funds from stipend can be used to help fund the construction of the enrichment item. Evaluate animal's interest in this new item.
  • Additional duties to help the selected fellow accomplish his or her objective: With approval from supervisors, assist as possible and when necessary, the Herpetology section. Responsibilities may include, but are not limited to feeding dragons, food preparation, exhibit cleaning, maintenance and support of husbandry team as needed. This will be especially important within the first two weeks of the fellowship to orient the candidate to the routines of the animal husbandry staff and animals.

Candidates Must Meet the Following Requirements

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must be a rising college junior or senior, recent graduate or be pursuing a post-graduate degree in a science-based program
  • Must have demonstrated pursuit of a career in marine science, aquaculture, zoo and aquarium management, Herpetology or veterinary science through college course work
  • Must have sound, basic math and computer skills using MS spreadsheets, database utilization, creation and data entry
  • Must have a valid U.S. driver's license and good driving record
  • Must be self-motivated and able to perform activities alone or as part of a team
  • Must recognize this project requires independent thinking and working
  • Must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds and assist with lifting and moving larger loads
  • Must be able to tolerate working in very warm, dusty conditions
  • Strong observational and data gathering skills will be necessary
  • Strong interpersonal skills are necessary Preference: Graduate level student with demonstrated background in animal science and husbandry. An understanding in behavioral training and enrichment is also preferred.

Schedule

The selected fellow will coordinate his or her schedule around the schedule of the Aquarium's husbandry staff and animal programs to which are assigned. Scheduling flexibility is a critical part of the success of this opportunity as aquarium obligations and animal health may change and dictate what is possible on any given day. The fellow may be granted access to the animal areas of focus after hours or during programs with consent from the Aquarium's curator of Mammals and Herpetology, the director of Live Exhibits, and animal care staff.

  • Fellowship duration: 400 hours
  • Working onsite on weekends, holidays, before and after work is possible and may be necessary

Candidates Must Meet the Following Requirements

  • Batten Fellows are expected to work with their assigned supervisor and section curator to develop and implement their plan on the assessment and implementation of enrichment with the aquariums collection of Komodo dragons and other herpetological specimen as possible.
  • During the Fellowship, Fellows may be regularly incorporated in to husbandry duties that support their understanding of the effort.
  • Fellow may be required to work independently.
  • Fellow will give an oral presentation of their findings and accomplishments at the conclusion of the fellowship.
  • Fellow will complete a survey/exit interview.
  • It is the responsibility of the Batten Fellow, not fellowship supervisor, to ensure that any requirements for academic credit at a home institution are fulfilled.

Materials Required in Application Packet
Incomplete application packets will not be considered.

  • Cover Letter
  • A completed Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center internship application form
  •  Resume
  • A letter stating applicant's desired session (winter or spring) and expectations of the fellowship
  • (2) Letters of Recommendation (one must be from an advisor or professor who can speak to your academic background)
  • Official transcript(s) detailing completed course work to date and GPA

Application Deadline

Applications must be received for review by October 15, 2015. Interviews will begin the first week of November. Notification of acceptance will occur no later than December 1, 2015 for winter fellowship.
Candidates may submit a general internship application and note their interest in being considered for the Komodo Dragon and Reptile Enrichment Assessment Batten Fellowship on the application and in their required letter of interest. Applications are available Virginia Aquarium's website:

  Download Application

Forward your completed application packet to:

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
717 General Booth Boulevard
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451
Attn: Volunteer Resources Office – Batten Fellow Applicant

Applicants not accepted for a Batten Fellowship position will have the option of being considered for a general internship (no stipend) with the Exhibits and Husbandry Division, if interested. Applicants also interested in the possibility of a general internship are encouraged to include this information with the Batten Fellowship application, OR complete a separate internship application.

Mammals Section

Available during the 2016 winter/spring session; January 15 – April 30. The position focuses on enrichment of the Aquarium's harbor seal collection. The application deadline is October 15, 2015

About the Project

Marine Mammal Enrichment Assessment

This fellowship will be supplemented by a $3,000 stipend to offset a portion of personal and incidental expenses. The stipend payment schedule will occur every two weeks when staff checks are issued. Stipend funds will be broken up in to even payments throughout the Fellowship session.

The selected candidate will:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness and value of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center's enrichment program for its collection of harbor seals.
  • Assess the effectiveness and value on both visually sound and visually impaired seals in the collection.

Duties to Help Accomplish Objective

  • Inventory the current supply of enrichment items used for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center's harbor seal collection and evaluate the effectiveness of each item used to enhance their environment and welfare.
  • Determine if any of the items offer exceptional stimulation for our seals and if visual acuity has any impact on what is preferred.
  • Evaluate, and if possible refine, the process of enrichment management to help enable the husbandry staff to more effectively implement and monitor this program on a daily basis.
  • Key considerations are: 1) understanding the process of selection, construction and introduction of new enrichment items and 2) evaluating the impact of these items on the animals. Do the animals respond to these items and if so, how, when and for how long?
  • Near the end of the fellowship, fellow will develop and construct at least one new enrichment item. Funds from stipend can be used to help fund the construction of the enrichment item. Fellow will evaluate the animals' interest in this new item.
  • Additional duties to help the selected fellow accomplish his or her objective: With approval from supervisors, assist in the duties of aquatic exhibits husbandry and maintenance in the mammals section with focus on the daily care and feeding of the aquarium's harbor seals. Responsibilities will include but not be limited to feeding seals, food preparation and support of husbandry team as needed. This will be especially important within the first two weeks of the fellowship to orient the candidate to the routines of the animal husbandry staff and animals.

Candidates Must Meet the Following Requirements

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must be a rising college junior or senior, recent graduate or be pursuing a post-graduate degree in a science-based program
  • Must have demonstrated pursuit of a career in marine science, aquaculture, zoo and aquarium management or veterinary science through college course work
  • Must have sound, basic math and computer skills using MS spreadsheets, database utilization, creation and data entry
  • Must have a valid U.S. driver's license and good driving record
  • Must be able to swim and be comfortable in and around open water
  • Must be self-motivated and able to perform activities alone or as part of a team
  • Recognize this project requires independent thinking and working.
  • Must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds and assist with lifting and moving larger loads
  • Must be willing and able to work in extreme weather conditions (high heat, cold, humidity)
  • SCUBA certification (Depends on Exhibits Division) Not required in Herpetology or Mammals unless otherwise stated
  • Strong observational skills and data gathering skills will be necessary
  • Strong interpersonal skills necessary Preference: Graduate level student with demonstrated background in marine mammal husbandry and/or formal behavioral training.

SCUBA certification is not required, but strong swimming and snorkeling experience is desired. Obtaining rabies pre-exposure at the applicants own expense is recommended but not required. Acquiring rabies pre-exposure will provide opportunities for possible contact with other mammal species under the care of the animal training team.

Schedule

The selected fellow will coordinate his or her schedule around the schedule of the Aquarium's husbandry staff and animal programs to which are assigned. Scheduling flexibility is a critical part of the success of this opportunity as aquarium obligations and animal health may change and dictate what is possible on any given day. The fellow may be granted access to the animal areas of focus after hours or during programs with consent from the Aquarium's curator of Mammals and Herpetology, the director of Live Exhibits, and animal care staff.

  • Fellowship duration: 400 hours
  • Working onsite on weekends, holidays, before and after work is possible and may be necessary

Expectations Overview

  • Fellows will perform data entry of a particular data set as the primary goal of their fellowship experience.
  • Batten Fellows will be expected to work with assigned supervisor and section Curator to develop an appropriate database for the organization of the data set they are assigned.
  • Fellows may be regularly incorporated into husbandry duties that support their understanding of the data.
    Fellow may be required to work independently.
    Fellow will give an oral presentation of their findings and accomplishments at the conclusion of the fellowship.
    Fellow will complete a survey/exit interview.
    It is the responsibility of the Batten Fellow, not fellowship supervisor, to ensure that any requirements for academic credit at a home institution are fulfilled.

Materials Required in Application Packet
Incomplete application packets will not be considered.

  • Cover Letter
  • A completed Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center internship application form
  • Resume
  • A letter stating applicant's desired session (winter or spring) and expectations of the fellowship
  • (2) Letters of Recommendation (one must be from an advisor or professor who can speak to your academic background)
  • Official transcript(s) detailing completed course work to date and GPA

Application Deadline

Applications must be received for review by October 15, 2015. Interviews will begin the first week of November. Notification of acceptance will occur no later than December 1, 2015 for winter fellowship.
Candidates may submit a general internship application and note their interest in being considered for the Marine Mammal Enrichment Assessment Batten Fellowship on the application and in their required letter of interest. Applications are available Virginia Aquarium's website:

  Download Application

Forward your completed application packet to:

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
717 General Booth Boulevard
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451
Attn: Volunteer Resources Office – Batten Fellow Applicant

Applicants not accepted for a Batten Fellowship position will have the option of being considered for a general internship (no stipend) with the Exhibits and Husbandry Division, if interested. Applicants also interested in the possibility of a general internship are encouraged to include this information with the Batten Fellowship application, OR complete a separate internship application.