Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
  Student Mentoring  

Young Scientists Program

    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's Young Scientists Program offers an opportunity for ocean-loving students to explore their passion for science under the guidance of professional marine researchers. CMA staff advise students through investigations on threatened and endangered species with the aim of conserving local wildlife.

For over a decade, the Young Scientists Program has received awards and honors. In 2013, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums recognized it with Top Honors for Education, thanks to the efforts of CMA to help hundreds of students advance in their scientific careers. Students frequently place in top categories at local, county, and state science fairs, with some receiving top awards at the Intel International Science Fair (including recently in 2017). We are proud of our alumni currently studying at academic institutions including CSULB, UCSB, Harvey Mudd College and Harvard University, and we can now call on our alumni as colleagues at NOAA and Max Planck Institute, among others.
  How to Apply
Please note that there are only a limited number of student researcher positions available each year. To apply for the Young Scientists Program, 1) attend the next Research Program Icebreaker, 2) complete the YSP application​ by the deadline of Friday, May 17, 2019​, and​ ​3) complete ​the​ teacher recommendation​​. Don't forget to ​follow the application instructions and ​email ​a resume to​​ and make sure your teacher/mentor submitted the recommendation by the deadline​.

​​To complete and submit a Young Scientists Program Application, fill out the online form here. You can download the PDF to help draft your responses, but please use the online form for submitting your answers.

​To submit a Teacher Recommendation, please ask your teacher/mentor to fill out the recommendation form by downloading the PDF and ask them to email the completed form to​

Research Program Icebreaker
Sunday, May 19, 2019 from 10am-3pm
There is one research cycle each year, running from summer through spring of the following year, when the Young Scientists Symposium concludes the program. Each research cycle begins with a Research Program Icebreaker (download the PDF) to meet new applicants and for staff to conduct interviews. Applications are provided at the Research Program Icebreaker for the Young Scientists Program. Training in animal welfare, safety, and communication is provided during summer. Completion of training is required for participation in research experiments during the school year.

Young Scientists Symposium
Sunday, March 17, 2019 from 3pm-6pm
Each year, CMA hosts the Young Scientists Symposium (download the PDF) to highlight student research projects and to bring together scientists of all ages to share their love of science with the public. Poster sessions, demonstrations, and speaking presentations take place throughout the aquarium and are open for visitors to meet the students and learn more about CMA’s Young Scientists Program. RSVP to:

Student Research Rules and Requirements
CMA's student research program is geared for high school students and registration as a City of Los Angeles volunteer is required. This process includes a background check by the City of Los Angeles.

Participation in the research program consists of at least one to two days a week of research throughout the year and mandatory attendance at workshops, training sessions, and presentations.

Please check out numerous volunteer opportunities for younger students in the Get Involved page.

You Should Know…
  • Only non-invasive experiments on Southern California marine life can be hosted in the Aquatic Nursery laboratory.
  • Field projects can be conducted by students on their own time with their own equipment.
  • CMA staff conducts safety and equipment training including proper handling of animals in the wild and permit regulations.
  • All projects should potentially help an animal to thrive in the wild.
Do you want to learn more?
Do you want to become a researcher?