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Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students do research on the RV Savannah
Photo credit: Julie Spivey

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students, especially those considering going on to graduate school, are encouraged to pursue research projects in the labs of faculty members in the Marine Sciences Department or elsewhere. Undergraduate research gives students a better understanding of the practice of Ocean Science and insight into whether graduate school, which emphasizes research, is your desired path.

Research in the Marine Sciences Department

Faculty in the Department of Marine Science undertake research in a wide range of topics from physics of the oceans to understanding the role of marine microbes in the global cycling of elements. Faculty individually accept students into their lab for research and opportunities vary depending on a variety of factors. Research opportunities may be available during the school year or over the summer, and students can do research for academic credit (e.g. MARS4960R), as part of the CURO program (, as a job, or purely on a voluntary basis. Expect to spend at least 10 hours per week doing research during the semester, typically in 3-4 hour blocks. You don’t have to be a senior to get into research – many faculty prefer students to start in their sophomore or junior years hoping they will continue with the lab long-term.

Photo credit: Patricia Yager

Students should fill out the departmental application and email it to faculty they are interested in doing research with. If faculty have an opening, they will typically arrange a meeting with you to discuss options for research and expectations of you as a researcher in their lab. You may be able to do an independent project, contribute to an ongoing project in the lab, or help in other ways. Research opportunities generally start either at the beginning of the semester or summer so plan accordingly.

Other Opportunities

A number of universities have summer research programs for students, often as part of a Research Opportunities for Undergraduate (REU) program. The programs change year to year, but those funded by the National Science Foundation are listed online (

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