Courses of Study 2020-2021 
    
    Aug 05, 2021  
Courses of Study 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Marine Biology


In the Biological Sciences program .


In addition to the concentration requirements outlined below, all students must complete the Biological Sciences foundation requirements:

General Goals of the Concentration in Marine Biology

About 70% of the planet’s surface consists of estuarine, coastal, and pelagic ocean environments. Students who choose the Concentration in Marine Biology will learn about the biology, evolution and ecology of organisms that inhabit these environments and the ecological processes linking them. Marine biology draws from a range of disciplines including organismal biology, marine microbiology, ocean biogeochemistry, and biological oceanography. These disciplines consider adaptation of marine organisms to their environment, their interactions with other organisms, and ultimately the consequences and feedbacks of these interactions upon the environment. Marine habitats are sensitive barometers to anthropogenic perturbations today and global climatic perturbations over evolutionary history.

Students will take an introductory class related to the marine environment as a foundation for further courses in marine biology and ecology. Next, students will choose courses from Group A that provide foundations in marine biology, including an appreciation for the diversity of marine organisms, their anatomy and physiology, their ecological interactions, evolution, and adaptations to the marine environment. Secondly, students will choose courses from Group B that provide advanced knowledge of biological and ecological dynamics of marine ecosystems, biogeochemistry, and current threats and problems related to marine organisms (e.g., climate change). Students are required to take a total of 15 credits, consisting of one introductory course and 12 credits combined from Groups A and B, with at least one course from each group.

Fieldwork is a central part of marine biology education, and most marine biologists are actively engaged in field research. Hence, a significant field component is required for the marine biology concentration. This requirement may be fulfilled by courses at Shoals Marine Laboratory; field courses through the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; or approved independent study (e.g., BIOG 4990 ), volunteer work, or internships involving a marine field work component with faculty at Cornell or elsewhere with approval (e.g., during winter or spring breaks, weekends during semester, etc.). The Marine Biology Director of Undergraduate Studies must approve the field component – please contact Dr. Ian Hewson: hewson@cornell.edu.

Students graduating with the Marine Biology Concentration will find careers in areas including but not limited to: graduate studies in marine biology, fisheries and oceanography leading to positions in academic institutions, museums, aquariums and government agencies; aquaculture and marine resources management; natural products chemistry and pharmaceuticals; environmental or maritime law; and veterinary science.

Courses for the Concentration in Marine Biology


  • All requirements need to be taken for a letter grade unless the course is offered S/U only.  Exceptions need to be approved by the student’s faculty advisor via the Biological Sciences petition.
  • A grade of D- or better must be obtained to count course for concentration.
  • A minimum of 15 credits of concentration requirements.
    Note: BIOSM 1610  and BIOSM 1780  are equivalent courses to BIOEE 1610  and BIOEE 1780 , and count for the Introductory Biology Cluster and Evolution Biology & Diversity requirements for the Biological Sciences Major. If BIOSM 1610  and/or BIOSM 1780  are taken to fulfill Biology Major requirements, they are ineligible to count for the Concentration in Marine Biology requirements. Students who take BIOSM 1610  or BIOSM 1780  AND are taking the Concentration in Marine Biology must enroll in at least one other Introductory Biology and Group A class. Students taking both BIOSM 1610  and BIOSM 1780  must take at least two other Introductory Biology and Group A classes.
  • Students are required to take a total of 15 credits, consisting of one introductory course and 12 credits combined from Groups A and B, with at least one course from each group. BIOSM 1610 , BIOSM 1780  OR BIOEE 1610  (Spring Semester Only) may also count as Group A course if BIOEE 1540  is taken as an introductory course. Courses that fulfill the field requirement have an asterisk (*).

Learning Objectives of the Concentration in Marine Biology


Students will:

  • Understand the diversity of marine organisms, their evolutionary history, biogeography, interactions with other organisms, and adaptations to their environments.
  • Be able to form hypotheses about marine-related scientific questions and design and execute experiments to test those hypotheses.
  • Be able to synthesize knowledge of physical and chemical processes of oceans and the biology of organisms to ask questions about natural history and ecology.
  • Have an appreciation for the impact of habitat perturbation on marine organisms, and subsequent ecosystem-level consequences and feedbacks.

We will assess learning outcomes through student surveys, in-class discussions, and examinations in consultation with the Directors of Undergraduate Studies for other concentrations.