Marine Biology & Ecology

Degrees Offered

We offer Ph.D., M.S., and M.P.S., degrees in three curricular groups: 1) Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation, 2) Marine Organismal and Biomedical Sciences, and 3) Biological Oceanography.

Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation focuses on coral reefs and associated benthic habitats with the goal of better understanding, conserving and managing these critical ecosystems. Research areas include disturbance ecology and the effects of climate change (including coral bleaching and ocean acidification), reef resilience, coral reef mitigation and restoration science, marine protected areas, long-term dynamics, trophic structure and food webs, spatial habitat mapping and GIS, photosynthesis, calcification and symbiosis and decision support and modeling.

Marine Organismal and Biomedical Sciences seeks to understand the molecular, physiological and evolutionary processes that contribute to how animals function with an emphasis on environmental interactions and the use of marine organisms as models for human health and disease. This research integrates physiology, neurobiology, population biology, genomics, molecular biology, pathology, pharmacology and toxicology to understand physiological and evolutionary processes, diseases, aging, and stress.

Biological Oceanography focuses on interactions of planktonic organisms with each other and their environment, concentrating on factors regulating population growth and mortality. Research covers phytoplankton and zooplankton through larval and juvenile fishes. Field and laboratory studies define how zooplankton through larval and juvenile fishes. Field and laboratory studies define how organisms respond to environmental variables such as temperature, salinity, and nutrients, and how they function in pelagic food webs. Interdisciplinary collaborative studies investigate dynamics of tocic phytoplankton blooms, growths and survival of copepods and larval fishes, bio-physical dynamics of transport, and the processes underlying the ecological connectivity of marine populations, as well as responses to climate change and ocean acidification.

  • Funding opportunities for the M.S. program are more limited than those for the Ph.D., so fewer students are accepted into the M.S. program. We do not require a M.S. degree for entrance into the Ph.D. program. See here for requirements for our M.S. program and here for requirements for our PhD program. Both degrees require independent research, but the scope of the research is greater for the Ph.D. degree. Prior to submitting an application, both M.S. and Ph.D. candidates are strongly encouraged to contact specific faculty to inquire about opportunities in particular laboratories as well as that faculty’s expectations for students pursuing the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Your success in matching your scientific interest with the research area of one of our faculty is one of the most important criteria used in evaluating prospective students for graduate studies at the Rosenstiel School.
  • The Masters of Professional Science (M.P.S.) degree focuses on the acquisition of applied skills; it involves an internship rather than a thesis and is not designed for students strictly interested in research. If you would like more information about the M.P.S. degree, please click here.