Meet Our 2017 Summer Interns

LMU’s College of Science and Engineering & The Bay Foundation’s Summer Internship Program

While some of us lay around on a beach with a beverage and a book, The Bay Foundation’s (TBF) and Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) summer interns – students from LMU’s College of Science and Engineering – were working for our coast’s benefit, expanding their hands-on experience through a range of TBF’s real world restoration and research projects, and looking ahead at their next environmental studies plans. (Now don’t you feel lazy?)

Valeria Ceja

20170706_101259_VALERIEsm2bValeria’s research focused on mapping and vegetation classification of the LAX Dunes which is home to the endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly. She is a third year college student at LMU studying Civil Engineering. Her field work consisted of using surveying equipment to map the current physical state of the Dunes and analyze the percent cover of native and invasive plants species. The LAX Dunes ties closely in with her drive of community awareness and social responsibility. Valeria lives in Lennox, a small, unincorporated community in close proximity to the LAX Dunes; she plans to use her experience to help youth in her community engage and participate in restoration events. She hopes her research and field data will help create a baseline and pave the path for future research at the LAX Dunes.

“By far my favorite part about this internship was the wide variety of field work I was exposed to. My days ranged from swimming in a lagoon helping collect water samples, to taking elevation points in tide pools, to cleaning the shells of abalone.”


Candice Cross

CANDICE-CrossSM3cropA rising junior biology major at LMU, Candice studied the rocky intertidal zone of Point Fermin with TBF. Her work focused on mapping the micro-topography and assessing the biodiversity of the site to determine the impact of climate change on the intertidal. She also examined surfgrass distribution in the lower and mid intertidal to determine the importance of surfgrass restoration efforts. During the year, she continues research on her previous study on Caribbean invasive seagrass while taking classes and working as a teaching assistant for a general biology lab. After graduating, she plans to pursue a PhD program in marine science. In her spare time, Candice enjoys scuba diving, dancing, and singing.

“When I was younger, I actually used to go tide pooling at the exact site I studied. Getting to revisit that while further kindling my passion for marine science was really an unforgettable summer experience—and I have The Bay Foundation to thank for that. The most valuable part of this internship was getting real field work and experience! It’s an exciting journey to collect your data, watch it grow, and help tell its story.”


Michael Dea

IMG_3569_MichaelDea-microplasticsSM2Michael collaborated with Dr. James Landry (LMU professor) to investigate microplastics on Santa Monica Bay beaches. Microplastics is an emerging field of study, and therefore, there is little known about microplastics and their impacts. Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including large plastic debris that breaks down into smaller pieces and microbeads and microfibers that come from clothing and exfoliants added to cosmetics and cleansers. Spending hours in the lab, Dr. Landry and his team of students are developing laboratory methods to extract and identify microplastics from beach sand. This study will begin to inform the distribution and type of microplastics found on Santa Monica Bay beaches.




Samantha Geier

20170718_135616_SAMoption5Samantha analyzed high-resolution imagery in GIS to develop a model to detect kelp and eelgrass off the coast in northern Santa Monica Bay. This research will help inform monitoring of important kelp and eelgrass habitat along the coast. Future in-field monitoring and use of TBF’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) R2Deep2 will help fine-tune the model and provide a valuable tool to understand large scale changes in kelp and eelgrass habitat off our coast.

“I want to thank you so much for your mentorship during the past 6 weeks. I had no idea I would get to have all the opportunities I did during this internship (including working with ArcMap [GIS]), and I’m extremely grateful for the amount of time you set aside to teach me an entirely new program.”




Jordan Robinson

JordanRpicCROP2Jordan not only learned real-world applications of field work and research, but also reaffirmed her passion for environmental studies. Jordan spent the summer researching the disturbed grassland habitat at the El Segundo/LAX Dunes. She is a rising junior majoring in Biology at LMU. She is studying in hopes of becoming an Entomologist who researches new uses for insects in environmental studies. As a kid, she spent a lot of her time outdoors, learning to appreciate and interact with the natural world. It was through these experiences that she became devoted to the environment. During her free time, Jordan likes to study natural history subjects such as botany, ecology, and geology. She enjoys exploring desert and forested areas as well as gathering specimens for her growing arachnid collection. Jordan’s work this summer will be useful for understanding potential environment for the rare, federally endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly to thrive in.

“I’ll never forget my first day at the Dunes. There were so many unfamiliar insect and arachnid species, that I couldn’t help but get distracted by them. I already knew I would immediately fall in love with the site.”


Oriana Strieleman

IMG_3861_Oriana@Malibu 2aA sophomore at LMU, Oriana interned with TBF this summer where she conducted a research project documenting the recent discovery of the Federally-threatened western snowy plover nest sites. The first discovered nest was on the Santa Monica Beach Restoration Pilot Project site. These tiny shorebirds haven’t nested in LA County for nearly 70 years. Oriana’s project documented nest site conditions at Santa Monica beach, Malibu Lagoon State beach, and Dockweiller beach and investigated possible reasons the plovers have decided to nest in LA this year.