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  • Writer's pictureMMRP

Summer Marine Mammal Intensive Learning Experience (SMMILE)

Written by Brijonnay Madrigal and Kirby Parnell, Co-Coordinators of SMMILE

This summer, the MMRP is excited to offer the first Summer Marine Mammal Intensive Learning Experience (SMMILE) from June 12th - 18th! SMMILE is a fun, interactive 1-week course designed to expose high school students to marine mammal science. This program is targeted toward current 10th and 11th grade students from across the island of O'ahu who will be incoming juniors and seniors in Fall 2022. Twelve students will be selected to participate in this fully-funded, immersive program and preference will be given to Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or students from other historically marginalized groups.

The course

Students will learn about marine mammals in Hawai'i and what it means to be a marine mammal scientist through fieldtrips and hands-on training. Workshops with current University of Hawai'i undergraduate and graduate students will allow participants to explore future educational opportunities in marine science. SMMILE participants will engage with marine mammal scientists through interactive lectures where they will learn about current research in Hawai'i, a day in the life of a scientist, and the speakers' personal career paths.

This course will cover a variety of topics related to marine mammal research including:

  • Acoustics/Hearing

  • Animal Behavior

  • Population Health

  • Population Ecology

  • Stranding and Response

  • Innovative Technologies (e.g. unmanned aerial vehicles, 3D scanner, tags)

  • Conservation/ Management

The course will facilitate hands-on learning opportunities through:


Participants will live at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology on Moku o Loʻe (Coconut Island). Moku o Loʻe is a 28-acre island located in Kāneʻohe Bay. Participants will be staying overnight on the island in the Lanai Suites for the duration of the program. Students will be chaperoned by the instructors.

How to Apply?

Applying is easy! Students just need to visit the SMMILE website and click the APPLY NOW tab to fill out the application. Application Deadline: Sunday, May 1st at 11:59pm HST.

Parents... do you have questions about the program? No problem! Visit the FAQ section on our website to find out more information or email us at

Thank you to our donors!

This program would not be possible without the generous contributions from our sponsors: the Marine Mammal Commission and the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED) Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Success (IDEAS) program.

We'd also like to thank our wonderful labmate, Liah McPherson, for designing the SMMILE logo.



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