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Student Opportunities

Read the Bahamas Marine Science course blog

Field Opportunities

A key strength of our Marine Science Program comes from the many opportunities for field study, ranging in length from a week to a semester. These practical, hands-on experiences often lead to more extensive collaborative research projects with faculty members. 

Extended field  experiences offered with semester courses:
If you take Marine Ecology or the Biology of Marine Invertebrates, you can participate in an optional five-day field trip to the Duke Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina. On these trips, you stay in the residence halls at the Marine Lab campus while collecting organisms and conducting experiments in the local marine habitats. In Biology of Marine Invertebrates, we travel near the end of the semester; you observe the organisms covered in class in their natural habitats. In Marine Ecology, we travel early in the semester; on this trip, you conduct experiments and collect samples that form the basis of the laboratory exercises for the remainder of the semester. We also offer a freshwater ecology field experience with our Limnology course, in which you will learn water quality analysis and fish and invertebrate sampling techniques that are similar to oceanographic research methods. In this program, you travel to southern Indiana, the Hocking Hills area in southeastern Ohio, or the mountains of southwestern Virginia, where you survey a variety of streams while camping at sites near the streams.

Off-campus programs with marine focus:
Comparative Communities, Bahamas 
This four-week program is offered during alternate summers at the Gerace Research Center, San Salvador, The Bahamas. In this program, you will experience the culture of the island of San Salvador while you explore terrestrial and marine environments on daily field trips to coral reef systems and other tropical marine communities. You will spend several hours each day snorkeling as you learn to identify reef fish, invertebrates and plants; certified SCUBA divers may also choose to dive as part of the program (a NAUI scuba certification course is offered at Wittenberg). We also visit a local cave, hike in the interior of the island, swim to nearby cays, and survey the intertidal organisms of the rocky shore. After exploring a variety of habitats, you will identify a question of interest, propose a hypothesis to answer the question, and design and conduct a field research project to test your hypothesis. Most students present their findings at scientific meetings during the following academic year.

Duke University Semester Program:
Junior or senior students interested in marine science may be recommended by the Biology Department to attend the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C., during the fall or spring semester. At the Marine Laboratory,you can take a variety of courses in marine biology, geology, conservation and policy. If you attend during the fall semester, you will remain in residence at the Marine Laboratory for the entire semester; most students choose to conduct independent research projects. During the spring semester, you can choose to spend half the semester at the Bermuda Biological Station through a cooperative program with Duke, or you can choose from a variety of study-abroad opportunities within the Duke course offerings. Selection for the Duke program is based on interest, previous course work, grade-point average, faculty recommendations and a personal interview.

Cooperative Program in Environmental Studies: 
Wittenberg offers a 3-2 program in Environmental Management with Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. This program leads to a professional degree - the Master of Environmental Management (MEM). Although there are several tracks within the MEM program, our students interested in marine science often find the Coastal Environmental Management program of particular interest. Students who participate in this program spend their first three years at Wittenberg completing the general education program and a significant number of courses in their major, including the prerequisite courses required for admission to the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Science. Students then apply for admission to the program at Duke. Upon acceptance to Duke, students begin work on a master’s degree in environmental management. After completing the first year at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, students receive the Bachelor of Arts from Wittenberg. This program is particularly appropriate for students interested in environmental management of coastal systems or marine policy.

Research Opportunities

With faculty guidance, many students develop research projects during the semester or summer, both on campus and in field locations. Some of these projects may be funded by the Faculty Research Fund Board or the Biology Department with either part-time semester grants or full-time summer research fellowships. Students who complete research projects regularly publish papers in peer-reviewed journals and present their work at academic conferences such as the Ohio Academy of Sciences, the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, and the Benthic Ecology Meetings.

Independent Research Projects

  • Assessing the potential impacts of coastal development on the grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio
  • Ecological niche separation in two tropical nerite species
  • Geographic variation in response of fiddler crabs to three hexose sugars
  • Using molecular tools to identify species of fiddler crab larvae in a North Carolina estuary
  • A comparison of sea cucumber population dynamics in protected and unprotected habitats near Chumbe Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Herding limits water loss in the sand fiddler crab, Uca pugilator
  • Fiddler crab feeding causes vertical migration in meiofauna
  • Role of piling in the tricolored hermit crab
  • Spatial and predation ecology of whelks in a shallow embayment in the Rachel Carson Reserve, Beaufort,
    North Carolina
  • Induction of shell-switching behavior in the tricolor hermit crab by chemical odors
  • Survey of trash accumulation and comparison of two beaches on San Salvador, The Bahamas

Summer Internships
Each summer, several students receive internship or research funding to study at marine laboratories or field stations around the country or abroad. Some of these opportunities include a stipend, travel funds and a budget for supplies. Recently, students have completed internships at the following institutions:

  • Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory, Alabama
  • Duke University Marine Laboratory, North Carolina
  • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Florida
  • Keck Geology Consortium, SE Australia
  • Newport Aquarium, Newport, Ky.
  • NOAA Division of Protected Resources, Mass.
  • Theater of the Sea, Islamorada, Fla.
  • University of Maine, Darling Marine Center
  • University of Maryland, Horn Point Environmental Laboratory

Career Opportunities

One of the most exciting aspects of marine science is its inherent interdisciplinary nature - virtually any aspect of basic science can be studied in a marine setting. This variety is reflected in the types of employment opportunities and graduate programs that our marine-focused students have pursued.

Job Placement
There are many exciting career opportunities for students who are interested in marine science, some of which may begin directly after graduation. Wittenberg graduates are currently working in a variety of fields, including:

Graduate School
Wittenberg graduates have pursued master’s and doctoral degrees in a variety of areas of marine science, including oceanography, education, marine policy and many aspects of marine ecology. Some of the students who go to graduate school become college professors; others join industrial research teams or work for government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Recent graduates pursuing graduate studies in the marine sciences have enrolled in programs including:

  • Field Biologist, Endemic Bird Restoration, Hawaii
  • Field and Laboratory Technician, Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory, Alabama
  • Manatee Trainer, Cincinnati Zoo
  • Marine Educator, North Carolina Aquarium
  • Marine Educator, University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium
  • Protected Species/Marine Mammal Observer, ECOES Consulting, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
  • Marine Mammal Trainer, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
  • Marine Mammal Trainer, U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program
  • Clemson University; Spiny Lobster Ecology
  • Duke University; Coastal Environmental Management
  • Florida State University; Coral reef ecology
  • Nova Southeastern University; Marine Biology/Marine Environmental Science
  • Old Dominion University; Oceanography and Education
  • Scripps Institute of Oceanography; Marine Biology/Oceanography
  • SUNY – Buffalo; Cognitive Psychology/Animal Cognition (marine mammals)
  • University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Marine Zoology
  • University of Delaware; Marine Policy
  • University of Maryland; Estuarine and Environmental Sciences
  • University of South Alabama; Marine Science
  • University of South Florida; Cancer research using marine bioproducts
  • University of Washington; Marine Coastal Management

Facilities & Resources

Regardless of your major, you will have access to modern equipment as you take courses related to marine science. All science departments are housed in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center, which features state of-the-art classrooms, computer facilities, laboratories and meeting spaces. Field equipment includes a research vessel with multi-probe water quality meters, open water and substrate samplers, electronic data loggers and GPS locators. In addition, students have access to a GIS Resource and Mapping Laboratory, saltwater aquaria, simulated streams, environmental chambers, and microscopy equipment including one scanning electron microscope (SEM), two transmission electron microscopes (TEM), and a variety of light microscopes with digital image capability.


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