Marine Biology

Dive headfirst into the study of oceanography, marine ecology, fisheries biology and more with a degree in Marine Biology. Situated on Mount Hope Bay in RWU’s state-of-the-art Marine and Natural Sciences Building -- home to an aquatic animal diagnostic lab and the state’s only shellfish hatchery -- the Marine Biology program teaches students to discover the aquatic world through lectures, labs, fieldwork and independent research in preparation for careers as scientists and educators.

The Marine Biology Major

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Marine Biology majors can receive either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Marine Biology majors must satisfy all University Core Curriculum requirements and the College speech requirement, COMM 210. A Critical Writing course at the 200-level or above is a prerequisite to advanced courses and should be completed prior to the junior year. In addition, Marine Biology majors must successfully complete the following courses and sufficient electives to total 120 credits. Majors are encouraged to apply electives toward a minor or second major. Marine Biology majors may apply a maximum of two (2) courses from the major requirements towards a minor in Environmental Science, or a maximum of two (2) upper-level Marine Biology electives towards the elective requirements for the major in Environmental Science.
 
BIO103Biology I and Lab 
BIO104Biology II and Lab 
BIO200Genetics and Lab 
BIO204Introduction to Marine Biology 
NATSC204Principles of Oceanography 
CHEM191,192Principles of Chemistry I and II and Labs 
CHEM301Organic Chemistry I and Lab 
MATH250Biostatistics 
or
MATH315Probability and Statistics 

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology must also complete the following courses: One additional chemistry course from the following list:

CHEM302Organic Chemistry II and Lab 
CHEM201Environmental Chemistry I and Lab 
CHEM202Environmental Chemistry II and Lab 
CHEM311Analytical Chemistry and Lab 
BIO333Biochemistry for Life Sciences 
*Note that students who complete BIO 333 may use the course to satisfy the above requirement or they may count the course as a BIO elective, but the course may not count for both.
and
MATH213Calculus I Lab 
and either
MATH214Calculus II Lab 
or
MATH218Applied Calculus for Life Sciences 
and
PHYS201, 202Principles of Physics I and II and Labs 
Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Marine Biology must also complete the following courses:
MATH136Precalculus 
PHYS109,110Physics I and II and Labs 
Students completing the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Marine Biology must also complete a minimum of 21 (B.S.) or 28 (B.A.) additional credits from among the following courses. Students must take at least one course from either the Applied or the Molecular Category.

Organismal Category
Students must take at least one course marked * and at least one course marked **

BIO220Marine Vertebrate Zoology and Lab* 
BIO302Ichthyology and Lab* 
BIO335Invertebrate Zoology and Lab* 
BIO350Marine Mammalogy* 
BIO255Survey of Marine Autotrophs** 
BIO355Marine Phycology and Lab** 
BIO356Biology of Plankton and Lab** 
BIO305Neotropical Marine Biology 
BIO310Tropical Ecology 
BIO315Animal Physiology and Lab 
BIO320Marine Ecology and Lab 

Students must take at least one course from either the Applied or the Molecular category.

Applied Category:

AQS260Principles of Aquatic Animal Husbandry and Lab 
AQS262Aquarium System Design and Life Support and Lab 
AQS314Field Collection Methods (Bahamas) 
AQS346Principles of Hatchery Management and Lab 
BIO312Conservation Biology 
BIO332Fisheries Science 
BIO345Aquaculture 
NATSC301Marine Resource Management 
BIO392/393Animal Nutrition/Animal Nutrition Lab 
NATSC301Marine Resource Management 
NATSC333Environmental Monitoring and Analysis and Lab 

Molecular Category:

BIO340Biotechnology and Lab 
BIO370Virology and Lab 
NATSC401Environmental Toxicology and Lab 

Students may only count one short-term abroad course per category towards the Marine Biology major.

The SEA Semester Option

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above; and permission from the program faculty.
 
Prerequisite for Core Concentration: Students who are not majoring in science or mathematics may use the SEA Semester to fulfill the Core Concentration requirement provided the following prerequisites are met before the SEA Semester: satisfactory completion of the writing, mathematics, and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a GPA of 2.5; and permission of the program faculty.
 
Students in good academic standing who meet the prerequisites may apply to attend a SEA Semester through the Sea Education Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This exciting and challenging off-campus program combines onshore classes, labs, and field work, in ocean sciences and maritime studies with an offshore sailing and research experience. Students attending a SEA Semester enroll in the following courses:
 
BIO411Applied Oceanography3 credits
BIO412Nautical Science3 credits
BIO414Maritime Studies3 credits
BIO416Marine Technology4 credits
BIO418Practical Oceanographic Research4 credits
Marine biology majors who successfully complete a SEA semester receive eight (8) credits towards the Applied elective category.
This program is academically affiliated; however, certain restrictions exist for the transfer of institutional aid. Please consult the Spiegel Center for details.

Semester Program at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS)

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the University Core Curriculum requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Courses.
This semester-long course of study examines the natural processes and human interventions found in the Gulf Stream, the Sargasso Sea, and the coral archipelago, Bermuda. Students are introduced to the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance patterns of tropical marine organisms, with emphasis on the ecology of near-shore areas. Basic principles of ecology are integrated with an understanding of the sea as a habitat for life. Major groups of dominant marine organisms of the region are examined in the field. Major near-shore marine habitats are examined, along with their associated biotic communities. Coral reef ecosystems are emphasized to illustrate basic concepts. Students conduct a major research project. Fall Students enroll in the following courses:
 
BIO361Coral Reef Ecology4 credits
BIO336Tropical Marine Invertebrate Zoology4 credits
BIO410Research Diving Methods3 credits
BIO410Marine Biology Research6 credits
For marine biology majors participating in the Bermuda semester, BIO 361 replaces BIO 320 (Organismal and Ecology category) and BIO 336 replaces BIO 335 (Organismal and Ecology category). In addition, students receive 3 elective credits towards the Applied category.

Marine Biology Internship at the New England Aquarium (NEAq)

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five course interdisciplinary CORE; a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or above; recommendation from a RWU Faculty member; and acceptance by the program faculty at the New England Aquarium (NEAq).
This semester-long course of study provides a rigorous introduction to the research and educational opportunities provided by a major public aquarium. The internship will consist of an active research component in a laboratory setting under the direction of an NEAq research scientist, an animal husbandry experience with responsibilities that may include feeding animals, cleaning tanks and equipment, and providing treatment for diseased animals, and the successful completion of a dedicated course of research under the direction of an RWU biology faculty member. Students enroll in the following courses:
AQS260Principles of Animal Husbandry and Lab 
AQS420Research Internship at the New England Aquarium 
AQS450Research in Aquarium Science 

The Marine Biology Minor

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BIO103Biology I and Lab 
or
BIO104Biology II and Lab 
and
BIO204Introduction to Marine Biology 
NATSC204Principles of Oceanography 
And a minimum of 8 additional credits taken from the Applied or Organismal categories of marine biology courses

*NOTE: Biology may not serve as a minor for a Marine Biology major and Marine Biology may not serve as a minor for a Biology major.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the time a student has completed a major in Biology or Marine Biology, s/he is expected to be able to demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. formulate a scientific question or problem
  2. design a properly controlled experiment or field study that tests a clearly-stated hypothesis
  3. evaluate evidence critically and quantitatively, and apply this knowledge to novel situations.
  4. effectively communicate scientific knowledge orally, graphically, and in writing
  5. conduct a search of peer-reviewed print and electronic resources relevant to a research project in the life sciences
  6. understand the role of macromolecules in cellular processes
  7. understand the relationship between the structure and function of cellular components
  8. understand the relationship between the structure and function of major organ systems
  9. understand the mechanisms of physiological homeostasis
  10. describe cellular and physiological adaptations that have evolved in a variety of phyla
  11. understand the key discoveries of modern biology (including molecular biology and bioinformatics)
  12. understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of inheritance
  13. understand the species concept and the factors affecting biodiversity
  14. describe the patterns and mechanisms of evolution
  15. understand how phylogenetic relationships among taxa are determined
  16. describe the patterns and mechanisms of population distribution, growth and regulation
  17. understand the flow of matter and energy through natural systems from the molecular to the ecosystem level
  18. describe interactions among biotic and abiotic factors in natural systems
  19. understand the life history strategies of organisms
  20. describe the major global biological communities and biomes
  21. understand significant interactions and dependencies between human and natural systems
A headshot of Mary Dinnean

Making an Impact

Mary Dinnean, RWU Class of 2018 Public Health

Mary Dinnean, a junior double-major in psychology and public health, is a student making an impact addressing social justice and public health issues. In fact, she received a national award for her service.

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