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, Ireland; see freshman class profiles). The curriculum for the BS in Marine Biology is designed for those students who plan on pursuing marine biology, marine ecology, biological oceanography or related fields at a professional level or 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 also providing an important foundation in modern biological sciences, chemistry, math, physics and oceanography. We encourage an interdisciplinary approach that includes study in other marine-related areas, such as Aquaculture and Fisheries, Geology and Geological Oceanography, Marine Affairs, Marine Environmental Economics, and Marine Archaeology, History and Literature, 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.

Information on Marine Animal Physiology Faculty Search (click here)

Check out our Facebook page: “URI Marine Biology

Congratulations & Announcements – 2015

  • Welcome to the 85 freshmen in the Class of 2019 and our new transfer students!!
  • The Marine Biology Peer Mentor for 2015-2016 is Steve Tadros (MBio Class of 2016). He can be reached at mbmentor@etal.uri.edu, and will hold office hours in the CELS Student Affairs Office (see the Advising and Mentoring page for hours).
  • Dr. Carol Thornber (BIO), Principal Investigator of Rhode Island EPSCoR, has been named by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to the Executive Climate Change Science and Technology Advisory Board. Dr. Peter August (NRS) has been appointed by the Governor to serve as Chair of the Advisory Board.
  • Johann Becker (MBio) worked with Dr. Brad Wetherbee this summer and their shark tagging activities were covered by NBC10. To find out more click here.
  • Drs. Emi Uchida (ENRE), Art Gold (NRS) and colleagues received a $500,000 grant from NSF’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program, entitled: “Poverty Traps and Mangrove Ecosystem Services in Coastal Tanzania”. More than 35% of mangroves worldwide have been degraded or lost entirely in the past 20 years, and this has significant consequences for human wellbeing. Work will be conducted in coastal Tanzania where mangrove resource degradation and persistent poverty continue to be significant challenges. This project will inform stakeholders involved in coastal resource management and poverty alleviation how changes in mangrove ecosystem services are associated with poverty and vice versa, and examine new approaches to break the vicious cycle of resource degradation and poverty.
  • Dr. Chris Lane (BIO) and colleagues have received a $2.5 million NSF grant, one of five awards made in NSF’s new GoLife program. This work will focus on the biodiversity and evolution of a large and diverse group of microbial eukaryotes that includes the Apicomplexa (e.g. malarial parasites), omycetes (e.g. parasite water molds) and diatoms (e.g. ecologically important phytoplankton). Most species of eukaryotes are microscopic and are less well-studied with respect to morphology, evolutionary relationships, and genetic variation when compared to more familiar eukaryotes (plants, animals and fungi). Thus, this work will make major contributions to our understanding of biodiversity on Earth, and how we interpret cellular and evolutionary biology in the broadest sense.
  • Dr. Serena Moseman-Valtierra and Dr. Marta Gomez-Chiarri have received a grant from Rhode Island Sea Grant for a project entitled “Pathogens, nitrogen, and changing climate: Understanding impacts of multiple stressors on Narragansett Bay shellfish”.
  • Heather Chan (MBio), Jaclyn Friedman (MBio), Katie Lynch (MBio), and Ryan Quinn (Bio), all undergraduates working in the Moseman-Valtierra lab, were invited to present their research at the URI Leadership Summit hosted by President David M. Dooley, the URI Foundation, and the URI Alumni Association.
  • URI at SEAProfs. Tracey Dalton (MAF) and Jacqueline Webb (BIO) attended the Final Symposium of the Sea Education Association’s program in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (MBC) in June, which focused on the Sargasso Sea. Peg Brandon, President of SEA, realized that there was a disproportionately large URI presence at this event.URI at SEA - 2015Left to Right:  Peg Brandon, BS ’80, MMA ’97 (President of SEA), Tundi Agardy, MMA ’85, PhD ’87, William Botta, BS ’15 (URI MBio student in the SEA – MBC program) , Jacqueline Webb (URI faculty – BioSci), Tiffany Smythe, MMA ’07, PhD ’11, Chris Mcguire, MMA ’11 (former SEA Captain), Tracy Dalton (URI faculty – MAF), Paul Joyce, PhD ’88 (Dean of SEA).
  • Dr. Jacqueline Webb and collaborators at Boston U. and U. Miami have received a $1.2 million NSF grant entitled “The Role of Larval Orientation Behavior In Determining Population Connectivity”. A new post-doc, Dr. Yinan Hu, has joined the Webb lab to work on this project. Pelagic marine fish larvae face great challenges in finding suitable settlement sites. This project will ask fundamental questions about how the sensory capabilities of pelagic fish larvae, as reflected by the developmental anatomy of their sensory systems, contribute to their navigation behavior, which is being studied in the field, in Belize.
  • Congratulations to Jessica Freedman (MBio Class of 2018) and Jamie Schicho (OCE Class of 2018), the 2016 recipients of the NOAA Hollings Scholarship; 19 URI students have won Hollings Scholarships since 2009.
  • Justin Richard, PhD student (and NSF Graduate Research Fellow) in the Sartini Lab, won first place in the PhD student poster competition at the  Alaska Marine Science Symposium (hosted by the North Pacific Research Board) in Anchorage, AK, Jan 19-23. His poster was entitled “Determining the number of exhales necessary for the application of minimally-invasive blow sampling to molecular analyses in wild belugas (Delphinapterus leucas)”. The poster was co-authored by undergraduate Krystle Schultz, and Dr. Becky L. Sartini.
  • Novel “Alternative” Spring Breaks! – Students participated in an R/V Endeavor cruise with Dr. Menden-Deuer (OCG 494 – Field Oceanography), and students in the Scientific Diving course (AFS 433) did their open water work in Bonaire with the URI’s Dive Safety Officers.
  • J-Term Field Courses (2015) – Students went to Bonaire to study Coral Reef Conservation and Analysis (NRS 475X) with Dr. Graham Forrester and Anya Watson, Dive Safety Officer, and to the Philippines to study Aquaculture (AFS 492) with Dr. Michael Rice.
  • Cruise News!  Jessica Perrault (MB Class of 2015) and David Gleeson (MB Class of 2016), as well as alumni Iain McCoy and Michelle Dennis (Class of 2013) are on the R/V Palmer in the Southern Ocean (Dec. 2014) studying krill with Dr. Ted Durbin (GSO) and other scientists. You can learn more about what they are doing at sea on their blog: krillcruise.wordpress.com.

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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