URI Marine Biology Program

College of the Environment and Life Sciences


The Marine Biology Program involves over 200 students in the B.S. Marine Biology degree program, which is administered by the Department of Biological Sciences. Most of our students are from out-of-state, and they have come to us from 15 states (including Florida, Texas, California, and Hawaii) and internationally (Germany, Phillipines, India, Netherlands, Mexico, China; see freshman class profiles). The curriculum for the BS in Marine Biology is designed for those students who plan to work in marine biology, marine ecology, biological oceanography, marine conservation, marine education, or related fields at a professional level, and those who wish to apply their training to a wide range of other exciting careers. The program allows students to explore the vast world of marine biology while providing an important foundation in modern biological sciences, chemistry, math, physics and oceanography. We encourage an interdisciplinary approach that could include study in other marine-related areas, such as Aquaculture and Fisheries, Geology and Geological Oceanography, Marine Affairs, Marine Environmental Economics, Marine Archaeology, History and Literature, Ocean Engineering, and/or involvement in URI’s Honors Program. Students majoring in marine biology may also choose to complete a minor or double major in one of these areas (or others), depending on their interests. Other students with an interest in Marine Biology may pursue a BS in Biological Sciences or a BA in Biology (with appropriate marine-related courses), or may complete a Minor in Marine Biology.

We have hired SIX new faculty in Marine Biology and Related Areas in the past two years: Marine Animal Physiology (Dr. Hollie Putnam, CELS/BIO), Evolution of Marine Organisms (Dr. Jon Puritz, CELS/BIO), Coral Reef Ecology (TBA, CELS), Biogeochemistry (Dr. Jamie Palter, GSO), Phytoplankton Ecology/Coastal Oceanography (Dr. Colleen Mouw, GSO), Hydrothermal Vent/Methane Seeps (Dr. Roxanne Beinart, GSO, starting in Fall 2017).

Marine Biology @ URI: A Sea of Opportunities (Welcome Day Presentation)

Check out our Facebook page: “URI Marine Biology

Congratulations & Announcements

  • Dr. Austin Humphries (FAVS) has received a $3 million grant from USAID to study coral reef fisheries in Indonesia. The research will identify fishery management strategies that will maintain and protect the ecosystem while also ensuring that fish are available for consumption. Dr. Chris Lane (BIO) will be doing genetics work as part of this project. Read more here.
  • Danielle Perry (PhD student in the Thorber Lab, NRS) and Felicia Woods (PhD student in the Karraker lab, NRS) have been awarded prestigious, nationally competitive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. Danielle studies conservation of our local salt marshes and Felicia studies sea turtle ecology in New England in light of changing ocean temperatures.
  • Three research grants were awarded to three CELS graduate students by The Nature Conservancy and URI’s Coastal Institute. These grants support research that advances the conservation and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems have been awarded to two graduate students. Paul Carvalho (PhD student in the Humphries Lab, and NSF Graduate Research Fellow) will be examining how the use of different types of fishing gear might aid in coral reef conservation. Rebecca Stevick (PhD student in the Gomez-Chiarri Lab, FAVS) is studying the effects of estuarine acidification on efforts to restore oyster habitat. Amber Hardy (Stolt Lab, NRS) will be studying the effect of sea level rise on tidal marshes.
  • Benjamin Negrete (MBio, Class of 2012) has been awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and will start his PhD in fish physiological ecology at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Fall 2017.
  • Welcome to New Marine Biology Faculty:
    • Dr. Hollie Putnam has joined the Department of Biological Sciences (Jan. 2017). She works on the impacts of global change on the physiology of corals and other invertebrates. Click here to see her website and here to read more.
    • Dr. Jon Puritz will be joining the Department of Biological Sciences in Fall 2017. Dr. Puritz studies anthropogenic effects on the evolution of marine populations. Click here to see his website.
  • Daniel Achilles (Junior, MBio) is on a cruise with the Rynearson Lab (GSO) in the Antarctic (Dec./Jan. 2017). Here’s the link to their blog – Daniel wrote the latest posting: http://www.gso.uri.edu/rynearson-lab/blogs/
  • Dr. Jacqueline Webb (BIO) has been appointed as the first George and Barbara Young Chair in Biology, the sole endowed chair in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences (Press Release).
  • Whale Watching at the Mystic Aquarium – Dr. Justin Richard and some of our Marine Biology majors have been doing research on the Belugas at the Aquarium. Read about it here.
  • In Fall 2016 we welcomed 74 incoming freshmen who came to URI from 14 states; 59 from New England and the Middle Atlantic States, and another 15 students from IL, VA, MD, MI, MN, TX and CA.
  • URI Marine Biology Alumni at the Joint Meeting of IMG_2374Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in New Orleans in July 2016!  All of these alums are now graduate students at other institutions around the country and gave presentations at this national conference. From left to right: Charles Bangley (Class of ’06, now at East Carolina University), Ashley Stoehr (Class of ’10, now at UMass Dartmouth), Dr. Jacqueline Webb, Amber Lisi (Class of ’12, now at UMass Dartmouth), Callie Crawford (Class of ’10, MS College of Charleston).
  • IMG_2393Ashley Marranzino (MS Student, Webb Lab) won the Stoye Award (best student talk) in Genetics, Development and Morphology for her presentation on the sensory biology of deep sea fishes at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in July 2016. The URI Press Release about Ashley is here.
  • Congratulations to the Marine Biology Class of 2016!  See our Alumni Page to see what some of our graduates will be doing after Graduation.
  • Renee Bakker (MBio Class of 2016) was awarded the 2016 Academic Excellence Award in Marine Biology at Graduation.
  • Dr. Justin Richard (Sartini Lab, FAVS) who works on reproductive physiology of whales, has recently completed his PhD (2016)  and will be staying at URI as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and will be contributing to the Marine Biology Program. Dr. Richard has worked with the beluga whales at the Mystic Aquarium and has involved 11 URI undergraduates, including many Marine Biology majors, in this work. Click here for press release.
  • Congratulations and Bon Voyage to Dr. Jason Ramsay (BS Biological Sciences 2004; PhD BioSci 2012; current lecturer in BioSci, faculty advisor for MBio) who has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Biology at Westfield State University, Westfield, MA.
  • Johann Becker (Marine Biology/Ocean Engineering double major, Class of 2018) is a recipient of a 2016 NOAA Hollings Scholarship. He is the 20th URI student to receive this prestigious, nationally competitive scholarship.  Click here for URI press release.
  • For more news, see the Kudos and Congratulations page.

Photo Credits throughout the Marine Biology website: Drs. Jacqueline Webb, Brad Seibel, Carol Thornber, Ms. Jillian Hesse (Class of ’07),  Ms. Sara MacSorley (Class of ’08),  Ms. Emily Field (Class of ’09)

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