Marine Biology at Cornell University

The Minor in Marine Biology

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General Goals of the Minor in Marine Biology

About 70% of the planet's surface consists of estuarine, coastal, and pelagic ocean environments. Students who choose the Minor 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 (Group A) related to the marine environment as a foundation for further courses in marine biology and ecology. Next, students will choose courses from Group B that provide background in the biology of marine organisms, and advanced topics of their interactions with the marine environment, 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 Group A course and 12 credits from Group B.

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 minor. This requirement may be fulfilled by courses at Shoals Marine Laboratory; field courses through the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Cornell-accredited courses with the Sea Education Association; 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 Undergraduate Program Director must approve the field component.


Description of the Minor Requirements:

Students are required to take a total of 15 credits, consisting of one course in Group A and 12 credits from Group B. BioSM 1610 may also count as a Group B course if BioEE1540 is taken. Courses that fulfill the field requirement have an asterisk (*). Note: all courses with SEA prefix are offered off-campus or on board a vessel at sea.

Group A - Introductory Courses

BioEE 1540Introduction to Oceanography (3 cr)
BioEE 1560 Introduction to Oceanography with Lab (4 cr)
BioSM 1610* Ecology and the Marine Environment (3 cr)
SEA 3660* SEA Introduction to Oceanography (3 cr)

Group B - Organismal Biology, Diversity, and Advanced Topics

BioSM 1780* Evolution and Marine Diversity (4 cr)
BioMI 3500 Marine Biology (3 cr)
BioSM 3210* Anat. and Function of Marine Vertebrates (3 cr)
BioEE/BioSM 2740 Biology of the Vertebrates (4 cr)
BioEE 4760 Biology of Fishes (4 cr)
BioSM 4650* Sharks! (3 cr)
BioSM 3730* Biology of Marine Invertebrates (3 cr) 
BioEE 4620 Marine Ecology (3 cr)
BioEE 4790 Palaeobiology (4 cr)
BioEE 4900 Topics in Marine Biology (2 cr)
BioEE 3500 Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems (3 cr)
BioEE/EAS 3510* Conservation Oceanography (4 cr)
NTRES 3110 Fish Ecology, Conservation & Management (3 cr)
NTRES 3111 Fish Ecology Laboratory (1 Cr)
NTRES 4110 Quant. Ecology & Manag. of Fisheries Res. (4 cr)
SEA 3690* SEA Practical Oceanography 1 (4 cr)
SEA 3700* SEA Practical Oceanography 2 (4 cr)
SEA 3710* SEA Marine Environmental History (4 cr)
SEA 3780* Oceans and Climate (4 cr)
SEA 3800* SEA Oceanographic Field Methods (3 cr)

N.B. Only courses for which a grade of "C" or better is received will count towards the minor in Marine Biology (courses taken with an "S/U" option will not count).

Eligibility for the Marine Biology Minor

Any undergraduate student in CALS may enroll, subject to availability, in courses required for the minor. To complete the Minor in Marine Biology, students must submit the form, “Minor Program of Study in Marine Biology” available in 102 Wing Hall (Department of Microbiology Administrative Office).

Students will retain a copy of the form and be responsible for planning their minor program of study in conjunction with their advisor in their major. Students and advisors in other departments should contact the Minor in Marine Biology Undergraduate Program Coordinator in 102 Wing Hall if they have questions about Marine Biology courses. The Undergraduate Program Coordinator will assist minors in course selection.
Prior to commencement of any fieldwork, students should also submit the form “Marine Biology Field Experience”, available in 102 Wing Hall. The Undergraduate Program Coordinator will review proposed field work to ensure consistency with the aims of the field work requirement.
In the student’s final semester, he or she must submit an Application to Graduate form. In order to verify the completion of the Minor Program of Study in Marine Biology, the student must bring a copy of his or her transcript (it need not be an official copy) to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for verification that all required courses have been satisfactorily completed or are in the process of being completed. Upon review of a satisfactory transcript, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator will verify on the Application to Graduate form that the requirements for the Minor Program of Study in Marine Biology have been completed.

Contact information: Ian Hewson (403 Wing Hall) hewson 'at' cornell.edu

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