Gain key skills and unique experience…all while helping make our world a better place.

The Pirate Lab is known for our applied research and management projects across the globe.
Typical labs doing our range and caliber of research are dominated by graduate students and post docs.
But not the Pirate Lab.
Here, undergraduate research assistants are the heart and soul of our projects.

What Former Pirates Are Saying

“Thanks so much for taking all the time over the years to help me learn and understand. I’m going to miss you guys so much!”Jeanine, 2009
“It has been an honor to have worked with Dr. A and all of my ESRM family.”Kristin, 2011
“Its just amazing how much can come from a small push, which you gave me…It all started with a small submarine that couldn’t even pass for a submarine when it was handed to me. And what came from that was this. This whole team; 15 students, 5 advisory faculty, tons of robots measuring our environment. Now we have international collaborators and published research…it has been just awesome.Paul, 2016
“I admire your passion for the work we did. It was a wonderful experience…I learned at lot and took away research skills that couldn’t have been taught in a more beautiful place, with any better people. I can’t wait to see what is next!”Shannon, 2015
“I so appreciate your support and the backing of everyone in the lab and ESRM program who want something better for our planet and have the patience to work with inexperienced students.”Linda, 2010
“This is simply the best research project ever and this whole experience has just been…I don’t know: Insane! I can’t thank you enough. You guys gotta keep doing this.”Chris, 2015
“You are like my big brother, if that is the right word. And you are a crazy guy, but I mean that in good way. Good crazy, not bad crazy. This work has meant so much to me. I cannot say enough “thank you.” I think that more Turkish students should get to work with you. Please know you will always have a place here in Turkey and my home.”Serhat, 2011
“I was pretty quiet when I came here. And now I am not (but still nowhere near as loud as Dr. A). Working in the Pirate Lab was one of the key reasons I got to where I am today.”Geraldo, 2014

Pirates Reflect

Frequently Asked Questions

The easiest way is to come on by and say “hi” to Dr. A during his regular Office Hours in BTW 1265. Alternatively you can pop by our Sierra Labs and introduce yourself to our lead Technician Emily (in Sierra 2323).

You are by all means welcome to e-mail Dr. A about your interest, but note that he gets hundred of e-mails a day and has a REALLY HARD TIME getting to all his e-mails each day. Not getting a reply to your e-mail DOES NOT MEAN that we aren’t interested in you joining our lab. It just means he gets a firehose of e-mails each day.

We very much believe that everyone interested in lending a hand should do so, regardless of background or preparation to date.
While we love new lab members to have previous experience, the vast majority of students come to our lab with little or none. Don’t feel that you must have field or applied research experience to join our crew!
We have a mix of opportunities and places for you to help out that can fit your interests and our needs. We train you and prep you for each task in our lab. Students with limited experience start out with basic tasks and (if they put the time in and pick up those new skills) eventually progress to taking on more and more responsibility, eventually running crews, analyzing data, presenting results at meetings, etc.
Of course not!

We have a growing number to projects that use aerial drones and swimming ROVs to monitoring the coast, but our work spans a huge range of topics. From sandy beach inventories to restoring endangered plants to surveying road kill, there is something that will be right for you.

Please peruse our research projects to get a sense for the range of topics we are currently exploring in the Pirate Lab.


We don’t care about your major, only that you are interested in getting your hands dirty.

As you might expect, ESRM students dominate our lab. But we have students from all across our CSU Channel Islands campus (and increasingly students from other universities).

We have ESRM, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Sociology, Business, Art, Liberal Studies, and English students working in our lab at the moment (…and we’ve probably left off bunch).


We have a mix of projects. Some of these require specific availability such as the flexibility to be able to get to a field site during a low tide. But other aspects are laboratory-based and can be more flexible.

We generally like to have new students come in at consistent, scheduled times for at least the first several weeks you are working with us so we can give you the supervised training you need and make sure you are comfortable with the data collection or prep work needed.

In general, our busiest field seasons are early January, Spring Break, June, and July-September.


Dr. A’s #1 priority in funding is to secure monies that directly support student research (student stipends, equipment, etc.). That being said, the large numbers of folks working in our lab translates into only a subset of students getting paid/stipends in any given semester.

Generally, students who come into the lab with no experience should not expect to be paid right off the bat. Most stipends go to more senior students who have proven their reliability and grown their skill sets.

Dr. A offers Independent Study units for students that would like or need units for helping with research. ESRM 494: Independent Study is available to you for anywhere from 1 to 3 units per semester. Anyone signing up for 494 units needs to commit an average 3 hours per week for each unit (e.g. needs to average 6 hours per week for 2 units).

Note that students in our lab are a mix of Capstone Students, volunteers, Independent Study students (getting academic for their work), collaborators from environmental NGOs working with our lab, paid students/research assistants, and visiting students/collaborators from other campuses. These are mutually exclusive, e.g. an Independent Study student cannot get paid and a Capstone student cannot get Independent Study units.

While many folks follow their own path, one common arc of involvement in the Pirate Lab is to:

1) volunteer a few hours a week for a semester
2) sign-up for independent study units for a semester or two
3) get a stipend once you have built-up enough experience to start to run projects yourself

We have anywhere from 8 to 30 undergrads actively conducting research in the Pirate Lab at any given time. Students are are the heart of every level of our projects, doing everything from exploratory data collection to presentation of results at national academic conferences.

Ready to Join?

Drop us a note, let us know you're interested, and we'll be happy to help get you onboard.

Send Emily an E-mail