URI Marine Biology Program

College of the Environment and Life Sciences

Marine Field Courses

The best way to learn about marine biology is to get your feet wet… literally. Or, in the memorable words of 19th C. naturalist, Louis Agassiz, “Study Nature Not Books“. URI offers a selection of unique field courses and summer field courses offered by marine laboratories around the US provide invaluable opportunities for experiential learning in marine biology.

Field Courses at URI

Many of the marine biology courses offered during the academic year at URI include field work, but the following three courses have a particular focus on field work that takes place locally, aboard ship, and in the Caribbean. 

Coral Reef Conservation and Analysis (NRS 475X, Dr. Forrester [NRS], Anya Hanson [URI Dive Safety Officer]) – J-Term (10 days) – learn about important global marine conservation issues; learn to apply interdisciplinary theory to marine conservation; develop SCUBA skills to put ideas in practice and to solve real conservation problems. Critical analysis of primary literature and local case studies are integrated with daily SCUBA-based investigations. Course held at the CIEE field station on the Caribbean island of Bonaire.  See: www.uri.edu/international/bonaire.

Pelagic Ecology (BIO 460X, Dr. Seibel) – May/June or August – two weeks – combines lecture/discussion/lab and a deep water cruise aboard URI’s 185’ R/V Endeavor off the continental shelf, south of Rhode Island. Students learn fundamentals of pelagic ecology, collect delicate, little-known pelagic animals using sophisticated nets, conduct physiological experiments, and have the opportunity to observe these animals in situ while blue water diving.

  • VIDEO by Katie Viducic (member of the August 2014 class)

Marine Invertebrates of Southern New England (BIO 355) – Summer Term – 4 weeks - students study invertebrate diversity in their Rhode Island backyard where considerable local biodiversity is challenged by coastal development and the effects of climate change.

Summer Field Courses at Other Institutions

Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML; Cornell U. and Univ. New Hampshire; on Appledore Island, in the Gulf of Maine, off Portsmouth, NH). A wide range of courses are offered each summer. Only one course may be taken at a time (full-time, courses are one week to one month in length), but courses may be taken sequentially. Academic credit is transferable (from Cornell or UNH); URI students should get transfer credit pre-approved.  Most of the college level courses offered at SML will count as Marine Biology electives for Marine Biology majors. SML also offers research internships in marine biology and engineering. Financial aid (scholarships and internships at SML) is available via application. Consult the SML website for more information.

Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL; University of Washington Marine Laboratory, San Juan Island in Puget Sound, WA). Several different courses and apprenticeships in marine biology are offered in the fall, spring and summer quarters. U. Washington is on a quarter system (3 quarters/academic year). Academic credit is transferable  students should get transfer credit pre-approved. Most courses offered will count as marine biology electives. Financial aid is available. Contact Dr. Webb for more information. Consult the FHL website for more information about particular courses.

Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB; University of Oregon, Charleston, OR) – offers a wide range of courses in the Fall, Spring, or Summer (a full semester, or 2 to 8 weeks in length) and weekend workshops on special topics. Academic credit from U. Oregon is transferable  most of the courses offered will count as Marine Biology electives. Financial aid is available. Consult the OIMB website for more information about particular courses.

Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL; Woods Hole, MA). Summer courses have been offered at the MBL for over 120 years! Today, these courses are for advanced graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. However, undergraduates may participate in the MBL’s Fall Semester in Environmental Science (via transfer credit from Brown University) or as undergraduate research interns in the MBL’s two REU programs.

For information about courses at other Marine Laboratories in the US, see links on the website of the National Association of Marine Laboratories. (Click on “Courses” for a remarkable list of courses offered by all members of the Association).

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