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Our field teams are mostly composed of our students, postdocs and lab techs. However there are limited opportunities for volunteer help during the field season at Palmer Station, or on the annual (January) oceanographic research cruise off the Antarctic Peninsula. Interested volunteers should consult the Palmer website for details about our research, and contact information for applying to individual investigators. Different investigators may have specific requirements; previous college-level laboratory and/or field experience is desirable. Previous oceanographic or Antarctic experience is not required. 

Typically, volunteers are selected in the late spring before the following October to April field season. All volunteers must pass US Antarctic Program-approved medical and dental examinations prior to deploying to the Antarctic.  The investigator may pay partial costs for medical exams for successful applicants.  All travel between the USA and Antarctica is covered by the program. Volunteers residing outside the USA must pay their travel costs to and from the USA for onward travel to Antarctica. The usual duration for fieldwork by volunteers is 6-12 weeks, but may be longer or shorter depending on individual needs and obligations.  All volunteers must read and abide by the Palmer LTER Manifesto, linked below.

Prospective volunteers should send a brief resume and statement of experience and interest to the individual co-investigators for further information. We get many applications and there is a long waiting list.


Research Experience for Undergrads (REU)

Palmer LTER supports Research Experiences for Undergraduates. PAL REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed by individual investigators. REU students receive stipends and work closely with scientist mentors on ongoing site research programs or specially designed projects. Undergraduate student participants must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States. Students in the PAL REU program may participate in field research in Antarctica as part of the investigators’ field team and/or in home labs in the USA. They are given the opportunity to present a poster at the LTER All Scientists meeting and also during Palmer LTER annual meetings.


  • Contact: For guidance and inquiries concerning REU opportunities please contact the project's Lead Scientist, Hugh Ducklow.


Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

The RET experiences enables K-12 science educators to participate in Palmer Site research projects funded by the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) is to enhance the professional development of K-12 science educators through research experience at the emerging frontiers of science in an effort to bring new knowledge into the classroom. We hope the experience strengthens and enhances your existing science curriculum, serves as a professional development opportunity and extends collaboration between K-12 science educators and the local research community.

Participating teachers interact with scientists, graduate students, and the site education coordinator extracting relevant research materials and tailored them to developing instructional materials, videos and educational resources. See past profiles and projects.


  • Ways to get involved: Teacher at Sea, Instructional Materials Development, Ongoing Scientific Research, Volunteer (above).
  • Timeframe: Duration of commitment for teachers is generally one year and the project may be carried out year round or also during summer months, during the academic year, or both.
  • Past Project Descriptions
  • Contact: For guidance and inquiries concerning RET opportunities please contact the Education Outreach Coordinator Janice McDonnell.


Graduate Students

Graduate student research and mentoring are fundamental to PAL LTER’s mission. Palmer scientists provide a wide array of excellent experienes for graduate research, and this research has been instrumental in forwarding scientific inquiry under the central research paradigm.  Graduate students are full members of PAL research teams and in this capacity are mentored by faculty and postdoctoral research associates. Since 1990,  theses and dissertations have been written by graduate students involved in our program.   Palmer LTER student research has been widely published in the formal literature with students as first authors in journals.


Communicate with current grads and postdocs on papers, conferences, ideas, etc

To be placed on the PAL graduate students’ e-mail list, please contact Travis Miles (tnmiles@marine.rutgers.edu).