Semester by the Sea
Semester by the Sea is a one-semester program for undergraduate students offered by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University. This program is designed to provide undergraduate students an opportunity to broaden their educational experience with a semester-long immersion in marine science, with emphasis on marine biology. All courses are taught on the Harbor Branch campus in Fort Pierce, Florida, and are accredited by FAU’s Department of Biological Sciences.
Harbor Branch is internationally known for its research in marine science, biomedical marine research, aquaculture, and ocean engineering. Harbor Branch borders Indian River Lagoon, the estuary with the highest diversity in the U.S. The proximity of the lagoon facilitates activities such as seining, sieving, snorkeling, and boat trips, that provide students exposure to a variety of local and coastal habitats, including seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, salt marshes, intertidal mudflats, sandy shores, beach communities, and nearshore reefs. Other habitats, including the Florida Everglades and the Florida Keys reef tract, are less than half a day’s drive.
Program of Study
While the program is designed for a complete semester experience, students may register for individual courses. The recommended program consists of three core courses (12 credits) and one elective course (3 or 4 credits). Ocean Discovery, an oceanographic experience for undergraduates, is also highly recommended (3 credits).
OCE 4006 Marine Science (4 credit lecture) - An introduction to physical, chemical, and geological oceanography. Two lectures per week.
OCB 4032, OCB 4032L Marine Biodiversity (3 credit lecture and 1 credit lab) - An overview of the diversity of marine microbes, algae, plants, and animals, with emphasis on the marine biota of Florida. Field trips to local habitats complement lecture and labs. Two lectures per week and 6 hours of lab every 2 weeks. Lecture: Monday and Thursday 9:00-10:20; Lab: alternating Wednesdays, 9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:00. (Hanisak et al.)
OCB 4633, OCB 4633L Marine Ecology (3 credit lecture and 1 credit lab) - An introduction to the ecology of marine organisms. Field trips to local habitats complement lecture and labs. Two lectures per week and 6 hours of lab every 2 weeks. Note: Rotating the two lab courses, Marine Biodiversity and Marine Ecology, on Wednesdays permits full-day field trips for each class.
Electives (SBTS students should take one or two of these elective courses)
BSC 4930 Ocean Discovery (3 credits) - Students will engage in a two-day oceanographic cruise off the coast of Florida to collect biological samples and physical-chemical data for subsequent analysis in the laboratory. Note: This course is restricted to students registered for other SBTS courses.
BSC 4930 Principles of Aquaculture (3 credit lecture) - The basic planning and culture requirements of aquatic organisms (aquatic plants, molluscs, crustaceans, and fish), as well as culture systems, disease diagnosis, and business feasibility analysis.
ZOO 4402, ZOO 4402L Functional Biology of Marine Animals (3 credit lecture and 1 credit lab) - The relationship of function to form in marine animals and their adaptations to the marine environment, with emphasis on comparative physiology. Two lectures and 3 hours of lab per week.
OCB 4525, OCB 4525L Marine Microbiology and Molecular Biology (3 credit lecture and 1 credit lab) - The theory, techniques, applications, and interplay of microbiology, fermentation, molecular genetics, recombinant DNA, bioinformatics in the context of modern day marine research and achieving a better understanding of the oceans. Two lectures and 3 hours of lab per week.
Prerequisites: The prerequisites for these courses as a group are two semesters each of introductory biology and general chemistry, i.e., BSC 1011, 1011L; BSC 1010, 1010L; CHM 2045, 2045L; and CHM 2046, 2046L, unless a special exception is made by faculty. Credits toward Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Biology: SBTS courses are Tier II or Tier III courses. See here for the B.S. audit checklist and, if further questions, check with advisers in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Typical Weekly Schedule
Marine Ecology/ Marine Biodiversity Labs (Alternating weeks)
Functional Biology Lab
Marine Microbiology & Molecular Biology Lab
FAU degree-seeking students can register via FAU's registration website. Non-degree seeking students should contact: Kimberly Stanley, Campus Registrar – Northern Campuses, Florida Atlantic University – Jupiter Campus; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 Ocean Science Lecture Series
All students enrolled in Semester by the Sea are encouraged to attend Harbor Branch’s 2015 Ocean Science Lecture Series, which runs weekly from January through March and monthly thereafter. This lecture series provides a forum for Harbor Branch’s scientists and engineers to share their most recent discoveries to the public. Presentations are on Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and are followed by a "meet-the-speaker" reception.
During Semester by the Sea, students have the option of living on the Harbor Branch campus or staying off-campus in nearby Vero Beach or Fort Pierce. Apartment-style housing, with full cooking facilities, is available on campus. For students who prefer to live off campus, the nearby communities have a wide variety of rooms, cottages, apartments, and houses, spanning a range of prices. Our staff will help you in making the appropriate contacts for off-campus housing.
For more information on housing options, please contact the Marine Education Office, HBOI-FAU, 5600 U.S. 1 North Fort Pierce, FL 34946; Phone: (772) 242-2506; Fax: (772) 242-2433; email: HBOI_housing@fau.edu.
Students enrolled in Semester by the Sea have access to the Harbor Branch Library and have full circulation privileges. The library is an open-stack research library whose collections and services are developed and maintained for the support of our researchers, students, and visiting investigators. The library includes more than 17,000 volumes, 180 current periodical subscriptions, and 20,000 cataloged reprints and technical reports, with emphasis on the biological, environmental, medical, and oceanographic sciences. The library provides photocopy equipment, workstations for the HBOI network with full Internet access, an online catalogue, and access to a variety of electronic publications.
Students enrolled in Semester by the Sea have access to Marine Education’s computer laboratory. This facility, equipped with networked PCs with Internet access, and laser and inkjet printers, provides students with resources to access the Internet, enter and analyze data, write reports, and create presentations.
Semester by the Sea Faculty
Hanisak, M. Dennis (Ph.D., University of Rhode Island) Interests: marine botany, physiological ecology of marine plants (macroalgae and seagrasses), nutrient dynamics, coral reef ecology, biology of deep-water macroalgae, marine plant cultivation
Laramore, Susan (Ph.D., Florida Institute of Technology) Interests: aquatic animal health, crustacean and bivalve diseases, with an emphasis on viral diseases; the effect of the environment on the progression of these diseases and immune system function.
McCarthy, Peter J. (Ph.D., University of Kent) Interests: isolation and identification of marine microorganisms associated with deep-water marine invertebrates, the fermentation of marine microorganisms as a novel source of pharmaceutical agents, and the mechanism of action of antifungal agents
Proffitt, C. Edward (Ph.D., University of South Florida) Interests: Marine ecology especially of intertidal and shallow subtidal systems, genetic ecology, species interactions, biometry
Smith, Ned P. (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin) Interests: physical oceanography, air-sea interaction in estuarine and continental shelf waters, wind-driven and tidal transport processes, low-frequency variations in water levels, local air-water heat energy exchanges
Voss, Joshua D. (Ph.D., Florida International University) Interests: coral reef ecology and community dynamics, environmental drivers and impacts of coral diseases, development of advance molecular technologies with field-based ecological applications, molecular profiling of bacterial communities, marine conservation and management.
For additional information on Semester by the Sea, contact: Dr. Peter McCarthy, FAU Associate Director for Education, at email@example.com.