SPAWAR: Student support for dolphin biosonar studies 71-2003
SDSU Research Foundation - San Diego, CA

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Benefits Eligibility

Hourly with no benefits

FTE Percent


Annualized or Hourly Salary


Advertised Salary


Job Responsibilities

This Statement of Work covers the need for the services of a college student to provide technical and/or analytical support for the Investigating dolphin biosonar signal processing using phantom echoes project. The purpose of this project is to utilize a phantom echo generation (PEG) system to study the dolphin biosonar system and investigate echoic information necessary for target detection and discrimination. PEG systems do not use a physical target, but instead extract amplitude and timing information from the animal's emitted biosonar signal, then broadcast a delayed signal to the animal, so that the returned signal appears to be an echo from a target located at some particular distance. The PEG provides unique capabilities to the study of echolocation, since it allows experimental parameters to be manipulated in ways that would be difficult or impossible with physical targets. In this project, behavior and performance of trained dolphins are assessed while the animals perform a variety of phantom echo detection and discrimination tasks. Background: The US Navy uses trained bottlenose dolphins to find underwater mines and to detect and interdict waterborne intruders. To accomplish these tasks, dolphins rely on their biological sonar (biosonar). Dolphin biosonar capabilities currently exceed those of man-made sonars, particularly when attempting to detect/discriminate objects in shallow, cluttered environments. For this reason, there is much interest in the means by which dolphins are able to achieve this performance. Although some progress has been made in understanding the characteristics of dolphin biosonar emissions, the operation of the biosonar receiving system, particularly the signal processing stage, is not well understood. Particularly interesting questions concern how dolphins perform feature extraction from a set of echoes and what salient echo properties identify target characteristics such as shape, material, and density. Quantifying these abilities will allow greater insight into how dolphins detect and use various echo features to identify targets and will provide guidance for new approaches to signal processing in advanced target detection and discrimination algorithms for mine-hunting and swimmer defense sonars.

Minimum Qualifications

Graduate Level: B.S. in Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering major working on Master's degree Required Course Work: Physics Calculus

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Reviewing, analyzing and documenting specific operational procedures, and/or performing feasibility studies. Designing, exercising and/or testing models utilizing stimulation, simulation, emulation, numerical and statistical analyses techniques. Performing data conversion and coding, and/or data analysis and data reduction. Monthly Status Reports and Bi-Weekly Time Reports shall be in accordance with basic contract CDRL.

Standard Requirements

This description incorporates the most typical duties performed. It is recognized that other related duties not specifically mentioned may also be performed. The ability to report to work on time; follow directions from a supervisor; interact effectively with co-workers; understand and follow posted work rules and procedures; accept constructive criticism; for managers and supervisory personnel to lead and manage others; and to maintain a positive work atmosphere by acting and communicating in a manner so that you get along with customers, clients, co-workers and management.

Preferred Education/Certifications

Statistics course work

Preferred Experience/Special Skills

Experience with acoustical measurements and equipment (e.g., microphones, hydrophones) Basic soldering skills Matlab or LabVIEW programming Spreadsheet and presentation software Engineering drawing, CAD, or 3-D design software (e.g., Inventor, SketchUp, Blender, 3dsMax) Use of basic lab equipment (e.g., oscilloscope, function generator, voltmeter)

Working Conditions

Job Close Date Jobs close at 4pm PST


Supplemental Questions

Additional Instructions for Applicants

Certain SDSURF positions must undergo background and other screening, which may include criminal history, credit history, health examination, fingerprinting, or other screening criteria which the SDSURF determines necessary for business purposes. Where such requirements are known, they will be stated in the job posting. By accepting a position with SDSURF, you are agreeing to undergo such screenings at any time during your employment with SDSURF if it is determined necessary for business reasons.

Open-Restricted Quick Link This link is only used for: named in grant, transferring of projects from other institutions to SDSURF, or transfer of position from
University to Foundation. Job must be in the "Open-Restricted" status.

Activity Report

Physical Effort with or without reasonable accommodations

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Bending over





Lifting or carrying


Reaching overhead


Repetitive use of hands/arms



Pushing or pulling

Repetitive use of legs

Eye/hand coordination

Driving cars, trucks, forklifts, and other equipment

Being around scientific equipment and machinery

Walking on uneven ground

Mental Effort

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Directing others


Using math/calculations


Working at various tempos

Concentrating amid distractions

Remembering names

Remembering details

Making descisions

Working rapidly

Examining/observing details

Discriminating colors

Environmental Factors

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