UM Rosenstiel School’s Aplysia Summer Research Program Heats Up

Stimulus Provides Teachers, Students Chance to Work Hands-On with Sea Hares

aplysia eating

Virginia Key, Fla. — Scientists at the National Resource for Aplysia, located on the campus of (UM) University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, received an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus grant from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  This grant, for $82,128, will allow the Resource to provide summer research experiences and training to undergraduate students and middle and high school science teachers, and will enhance ongoing research at the facility.  The summer research experience and training program will run throughout the summers of 2009 and 2010.  This program will be directed by Senior Resource Manager Thomas Capo, UM Marine Biology and Fisheries Associate Professor Lynne Fieber and Professor Michael Schmale, scientific director of the Resource.

The team will use the award to hire two undergraduate students and two science teachers (middle or high school) each summer.  The summer research experience will focus on improving egg quality.  The students will spend 8-12 weeks and science teachers 6 weeks learning methods for experimental design and hypothesis testing.  They will become familiar with husbandry, collection of egg masses and rearing of larvae from the California sea hare, or Aplysia californica.  The students and teachers will also be trained in quantification methods for the evaluation of egg quality.  Additionally, the science teachers will learn the latest scientific methods for classroom teaching.

Aplysia californica is a large marine snail with a very simple nervous system. The National Resource for Aplysia aims to provide consistently high-quality cultured sea hares to scientists and teachers, and to conduct research on selected aspects of life-history and neurophysiology of this species. The Resource raises and ships 25,000 and 30,000 of these animals per year to labs in the United States and around the world for research in neurobiology and behavior.

This award comes on the heels of the recent renewal for an additional five years by the NIH. Over the course of the next five years, the Resource will receive $2.7 million from the NIH to culture and conduct basic research on Aplysia.

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Barbra Gonzalez
UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Marie Guma-Diaz
UM Media Relations Office

grant •  research •  dr. lynne fieber •  aplysia •  neuroscience •  rsmas •  national institutes of health •  dr. michael schmale •