STI Partners with UTB and SpaceX

A volunteer patrols the beach on South Padre Island. The new grad-student intern will be responsible for patrolling the beaches on Boca Chica beach. Teresa Shumaker photo.

We are excited to announce a new grad student intern position with Sea Turtle, Inc. in partnership with University of Texas at Brownsville and SpaceX. This new internship is for undergraduates who are, or will be, pursuing their graduate degree at UTB.

Every year, Sea Turtle, Inc. selects eight college students and/or graduates to work with us for the summer. It is a labor intensive position that teaches a wide variety of skills that are sought after in the conservation workforce.

Hilary Frandsen, a 2014 STI intern, was selected by Dr. Diego Figueroa, from UTB, for this two-year program out of a very competitive pool of about 40 applicants. Her tenure begins this month and she will be working with STI on sea turtle research and beach patrols year-round.

About the Internship

For this new internship, a student must be enrolled to complete their Masters of Science degree at University of Texas at Brownsville. This is the first sea turtle research grad student program at UTB, and in addition will also be conducting TA duties at the school.

The internship is a paid position, funded by contributions from UTB, STI, and SpaceX. In addition to the student receiving an annual stipend, housing is provided by Sea Turtle, Inc.

This is a completely new venture for all three entities and we are incredibly excited about what this project can accomplish.

About Hilary Frandsen

Frandsen is from St. Augustine, FL and has a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Educational Studies from Principia College, Elsah, IL. Hilary Frandsen, Teresa Shumaker photo.

At 22, Frandsen has already traveled to a few exotic places in the name of conservation.

In Peru, as part of a study abroad program, she did “in water” surveys for green sea turtles from a boat. Then she went to Trinidad for two months for an independent research project on leatherback sea turtles. Frandsen measured their heart rates during nesting, to test for any stress caused by ecotourism.

After that, she went to Costa Rica to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary. She worked with a wide variety of animals, including sloths, birds, monkeys and marine mammals.

In the beginning of 2014, she had an internship at Mystic Aquarium, in Connecticut. She worked in the research lab studying the immune systems of dolphins and belugas. She spent summer of 2014 with us as a 2014 intern.

Frandsen first fell in love with sea turtles during her sophomore year of college. She took a sea turtle biology class, and during spring break they took a field trip to Trinidad for a week tagging leatherbacks.

“They are the best species of all,” she said. “They were my first love.”

“She is most likely to be on the beach,” said Jeff George, Executive Director of Sea Turtle, Inc. “She's a natural researcher. Quiet but not shy, Hilary will likely be publishing many research articles about sea turtle conservation in the future.”

Frandsen was also invited to speak at the second Kemp’s ridley symposium last November. Her talk, titled "Implication of Tire Ruts on Frenzied Dispersal of Kemp's Ridley," was about the research she conducted during her internship with STI last summer.

 Frandsen working on her summer research project. 
Khrystyne Jamersen photo.


STI Internships

Each year, STI hires eight interns for the summer. The position is hands on and the intern will learn a wide range of skills, from public speaking to conducting scientific research and medical care of sea turtles.

Applications are no longer being accepted for 2015 internships,  the deadline was Dec. 31. Currently, we are in the interviewing process and hope to choose our new selection of interns in the next month.

To learn more, or apply for 2016 internships, please go to and follow the instructions listed. Each year we receive many applications and are excited to select the very best to work with us each summer.