Take one look at New College’s small class sizes, expert Marine Biology faculty, waterfront location and marine facilities and you will understand why so many students want to pursue their interest in Marine Biology either though coursework only or through an Area of Concentration in Marine Biology here. New College is situated on Sarasota Bay and our students have the opportunity to study and conduct research at the Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center, located on our Bayfront Campus. The Center is home to more than 100 aquaria, anchored by a 15,000 gallon research and display tank. Each tank in the Living Ecosystem Teaching and Research Aquarium (LETRA, for short) features different captive ecosystems, including a cold-water rocky shore and Sarasota Bay grass flats. Through a natural filtration system designed by students, the Center draws and recycles water from Sarasota Bay.
New College is situated on Sarasota Bay and near coastal and inland areas that make studying Marine Biology here a rich experience. Sarasota Bay is one of 28 estuaries in the country that have been named by the U.S. Congress as an estuary of national significance. The bay and Sarasota’s other natural environs help our Marine Biology professors bring science to life in and out of the classroom. As a Marine Biology student, you can take courses and tutorials on everything from Coral Reef Ecology, Invertebrate Zoology, Fish Biology, Methods of Field Ecology, Animal Behavior, and Aquatic Botany/Marine Plants and more.
Marine Biology students have access to faculty with a wide variety of expertise, including the ecology, communities and public policies of Sarasota Bay and the barrier islands and bays of southwest Florida. Faculty members also conduct research related to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and its potential impacts on the nearshore marine and coastal ecosystems of southwest Florida. Other expertise includes fish sensory physiology, invertebrate ecology and population dynamics, ecotoxicology, ecological assessment, biochemistry, marine mammal behavior and cognition, marine policy, mathematical modeling of biological systems and fisheries management.
Our students also have regular opportunities to conduct field research with bottlenose dolphins, whales, sea turtles and manatees. And many students get hands-on experience through coursework and independent study projects at Sarasota’s renowned Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, located just 10 minutes from campus.
A senior research project is required of students in the major. Each academic experience builds toward your senior project, which is a research or a creative project in your major or area of concentration. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.
Here’s a list of course offerings:
Please note that since many New College students combine their study of marine biology with other disciplines within the field, we recommend that students visit the curriculum section of our Biology AOC to view additional courses offered at the College.
Introduction to Oceanography
We will examine physical, chemical, biological and geological phenomena of the oceans, emphasizing events in the tropics. More than 85% of all Americans live within 50 miles of a coastline (including major lakes). Though mountain climbers aspire to climb Mt. Everest on land, many people walk the peaks of the highest mountain on Earth, Hawaii (33,476 feet high from base on the ocean floor to tallest rise above sea-level), every day without notice. Students will be expected to participate in group projects and to engage in active learning. Some in-class experiments and field trips will enhance the lecture course. Those interested in a gender studies focus are welcome. Science background is not required. Enrollment limited to 25.
Coral Reef Ecology
This course is a survey of the principles and concepts of ecology as applied to the study of coral reef ecosystems. Unique features of coral reefs will be considered as well as features in common with other ecosystems. The role of coral reefs in global ecology will be investigated and examples of reefs in the major reef provinces will be studied, with some emphasis on the Caribbean. Theoretical issues in ecology will be considered in light of impacts on reef dynamics of anthropogenic and natural factors. This course also includes an opportunity for students to participate in a field lab in Bocas del Toro, Panama during the summer. Enrollment limited to 30 students.
An Introduction to Aquarium Science: Its History and Methods
This lecture course will cover the history of study of aquatic organisms in the “captive” environment. It will detail methodologies for maintaining marine and freshwater organisms and ecosystems for observation and experimental studies. A survey of commonly maintained species and their classifications and general biology will be included. Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Preference will be given to students carrying out or planning research on captive aquatic organisms. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Laboratory Experience in Aquatic Biology and Aquarium Science and College level general biology or consent of instructor.
Laboratory Experience in Aquatic Biology and Aquarium Science
This laboratory course will feature collecting and identification of aquatic life in local habitats. Students will set up, maintain and monitor organisms in marine or freshwater aquaria. Field trips to local public aquariums will be arranged. Films and videotapes will be used to “visit” other aquariums and underwater habitats. Techniques for behavioral observation and underwater photography and videography will be discussed and students will carry out mini-projects on the ecology or behavior of selected aquatic organisms/ecosystems. With permission, students may assist staff in the maintenance and study of organisms in the larger aquariums of the LETRA (Living Ecosystems Teaching and Research Aquarium). Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in An Introduction to Aquarium Science and college level general biology or consent of instructor. Enrollment limited to 16 students.
Invertebrate Zoology: Phylogeny, Form and Function
This course will emphasize the ecology, structure and physiology of invertebrates, the largest assemblage of animals on earth. Systematics will be covered in the context of phylogenetic relationships of taxa. Representative invertebrates will be collected from Sarasota Bay and other local habitats for classroom/laboratory study. General Biology would be helpful but is not required. Laboratory fee is required. Limited to 20 students due to classroom/lab constraints.
Fish Biology Laboratory
Students will identify specimens of most major groups of fishes using frozen material from museum collections, fishes collected by the class, and live fish in aquarium displays. Emphasis will be on local freshwater, estuarine and marine animals. A comparative approach will be emphasized. Observation of the behavior of live animals will be carried out in the laboratory including the larger aquariums of the LETRA (Living Ecosystems Teaching and Research Aquarium). Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in Fish Biology Lecture or consent of the instructor. Highest priority for enrollment will be given to students doing independent study or thesis research on fishes or ecosystems involving fishes. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Lab Fee Required.
Fish Biology Lecture
This course will cover in some detail the major features of modern fish biology, including a synthesis of material from “classical” ichthyology, fishery science, fish physiology including behavioral biology, and certain aspects of limnology and marine biology. The history of fishes will be covered in an evolutionary context. This will include all major fish groups. Discussion will stress adaptive features, which permit survival in diverse aquatic environments. Functional systems for: reproduction and development, feeding and growth, locomotion, sensory perception, cardiovascular and endocrine control, osmoregulation, territoriality, migration, behavioral ecology, genetics and conservation biology, will be considered in some detail. Note, some class days will be devoted to field collecting or trips to local aquaria; lectures missed on those days will be made up in the next class, i.e. two lectures will be given with less laboratory time. Prerequisite: General Biology, concurrent enrollment in Fish Biology Laboratory or consent of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 16 students.
Marine Ecology and Conservation
This course examines the relationships among different marine organisms and their environment with emphasis on ecology, conservation, and the evolutionary paths. Using interdisciplinary approaches and patterned after a ‘real life’ scientific setting, students will investigate current conservation issues affecting the marine environment, different stakeholder’s viewpoints, and the potential subsequent effects on the issues.
Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Laboratory
“Hands-on” exercises to compliment the lectures and discussions in the Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Lecture. Nervous and sensory systems in a variety of invertebrates and cold-blooded vertebrates will be studied by dissection and study of special microscope preparations. Working in small groups students will also explore the affects of neural lesions and electrical stimulation on the behavior of selected invertebrates and fishes. Students will be expected to provide documentation of the results of the lab studies. Prerequisite: Completion or concurrent enrollment in Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Lecture or consent of instructor. Enrollment limited to 12. Lab fee required.
Neurobiology and Behavior of Marine Animals Lecture
This course will survey neural and hormonal systems that mediate behavior in a variety of marine animals. The evolution of control systems for adaptive behaviors will be stressed. Phylogenetic as well as levels of organization approaches to understanding brain-behavior systems will be considered. Topics include: integration in nerve nets of jellyfish and hydroids; primitive bilateral control in flatworms; ganglionic integration and central control of behavior in arthropods and molluscs; neuroendocrine pathways in higher invertebrates; radial control in echinoderms; origins of vertebrate nervous pathways in the protochordates; evolution of sensorimotor integration and behavioral plasticity (learning and related phenomena) in fishes. Survey of cetacean brain-behavior systems. Prerequisites: Some prior knowledge of basic neurobiology and/or physiological psychology or zoology of marine organisms, or consent of instructor.
Marine Biology Group Tutorials
In addition to traditional classes, New College students in all disciplines augment their learning and pursue areas of special interest through individual and group tutorials, as well as independent study projects. Here is a look at some recent group tutorials in marine biology.• Mangrove Ecology
• Marine Collecting Techniques
• Marine Science Outreach Tutorial
• Seagrass Ecology
To find out more about the Marine Biology AOC and course listings, check out our general catalog.
You can also click here to read the Marine Biology Academic Learning Compact.
Graduates in Marine Biology from New College are re-shaping the field and are at work in diverse areas around the country and indeed throughout the world. Here is a quick look at the career of one of our graduates:
Dr. Erin Lipp, ’94, Associate Professor, University of Georgia Department of Environmental Health Science
“I have always conducted collaborative research. To address real-world problems, it is nearly impossible to do so without a broad expertise.” Dr. Erin Lipp brings her expertise in Marine Biology to UGA’s College of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health Science. She collaborates with researchers across disciplines in order to tackle pressing environmental and public health issues. Lipp pursued her Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland, her Ph.D. in Marine Science with an emphasis in Biological Oceanography at University of South Florida and her B.A. in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Biology at New College.
New College is proud of our many Biology graduates who have focused their studies on the marine environment. Here’s a sampling of some of our graduates:
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Marine Biology
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Marine Biology:
“The Distribution of Cyphoma Gibbosum (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Cypraeoidea: Ovulidae) (The Flamingo Tongue Gastropod) in Relation to the Presence of the Fungal Disease Aspergillosis on Gorgonia Spp. (Anthozoa: Cnidaria: Octocorallia: Gorgoniidae)” by Julie Christina Krzykwa
“Interaction of Time and Environment and Environment on Sheepshead Minnow” by Morgan Molina-Marin
“Vegetarian Shrimp: the Effects of Attractants in Alternative Plant-Based Diets on Growth Rates of Juvenile Pacific White Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) (Boone, 1931)” by Megan White-Domain
“Population Connectivity of the Acropra Palmata on Cayos Cochinos, Honduras” by Alberto Fenix
“Sponge and Faunal Association of the Brittle Star Ophiothrix suensonii (Echinodermata) at Cayos Cochinos, Honduras and the Feeding Postures and General Behavior of Mariametrid Feather Stars (Echinodermata) (In Vivo)” by Stephanie Sherman
“Just Keeping Swimming: A Review of the Biological and Social Components of Teleost Fish Shoaling” by Stuart Strock
“Plasticity of Fish Muscle Phenotype in Response to a Thermally Variable Environment: An Ecophysiological Study of Fundulus grandis Eurythermal Performance from a Protein Perspective” by David Dayan
“Behavioral Lateralization and Anatomical Asymmetry in Pleuronectiform Fishes” by Ned Poulos-Boggis
“Chromatophore Mapping of the Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis biamaculatus) and the Effects of Morphological and Physiological Controls During Development” by Diana Ward
“Spatial Analysis of Octopus Dens and Predation” by Elizabeth Alene Hamman
“Cold Tolerance of the Mayan Cichlid (CICHLASOMA ‘NANDOPSIS’ UROPHTHALMUS) and the Effects of Temperature on Teleost Physiology” by Peter Repenning
“Vocalization Studies of Two West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris)” by Amanda L. Stansbury
“Fish, Finches and Tour Boats: Conservation and Plunder in Latin America. A Case Study of the Galapagos Islands” by Amanda Croteau
“Spacial Mapping in a Jumping Fish: The Frillfin Goby Bathygobius soporator” by Geoffrey H. Smith, Jr.
“Designing Captive Habitats for Delphinidae” by Marion Griffin
“Behavior of the Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta Splendens) in a Radical Arm Maze” by Sandra Bohn
“Shelter Choice in the Gulf Toadfish, Opsanus Beta” by June Gwalthney
“Spatial Orientation and Modeling in the Arboreal Mangrove Crab, Aratus pisonii (Crustacea, Grapsidae) H. Milne Edwards 1837” by Sarah Elizabeth Rhodes
“An Assessment of Manatee Behaviors, Biology, and Implications for Conservation” by Nicole L. Morgan
“Collaborative Management of Coral Reef Ecosystems” by Mey Akashah
“A Photographic Atlas of Brains of Common Caribbean Reef Fishes” by Xiomara Chin
“The Effects of Temperature on Growth, Colonization and Strobilation in Linuche unguiculata: Relation to Planulae Outbreaks Along the Southeast Florida Coast” by Erin Lipp
“The Effects of Stormwater Run-Off on the Survivorship, Molting Rate, and Behavior of Menippe mercenaria Larvae and Megalopa” by Elizabeth R. McCain
“The Postlarval Ocean Management Study” by Michael David Calinski
“Ocean Management: Rational Exploitation of Ocean Resources” by Luc Cuyvers
The Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center boasts seven research labs and over 100 aquaria, anchored by a 15,000 gallon research and display tank. Each tank in the Living Ecosystem Teaching and Research Aquarium features a different captive ecosystem, some with a camera to send images to a streaming video server. Through a natural filtration system designed by students as part of a senior thesis project, the center draws and recycles water from Sarasota Bay. A second filtration area is currently under development, and when complete will allow us to scrub water from our parking area to demonstrate the use of native plants in stormwater control. Recently, a new research lagoon was also added along the bayfront to allow students to study plant and animal colonization and use of a disturbed habitat.
Many students apprentice at the marine center, learning animal husbandry and proper care of organisms in a captive environment. Students and faculty also design outreach programs to engage the local community in the world of science. Learn more.
The 34,000-square-foot Heiser Natural Sciences Complex includes teaching and research labs for chemistry, biology, computational science, mathematics and physics. There is a new state-of-the-art Optical Spectroscopy and Nano-Materials laboratory, a research greenhouse and herbarium. Special equipment includes a scanning electron microscope in biology, a 24-station chemistry teaching lab with transparent fume hoods and sampling equipment for field ecology. The Soo Bong Chae Auditorium is a tiered lecture hall for the natural sciences.
Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent not-for-profit marine research organization based on City Island in Sarasota, Florida, less than 15 minutes from campus. The laboratory aims to advance the science of the sea, both through its marine and estuarine research labs and through the public Mote Aquarium and its affiliated educational programs. New College faculty and students often conduct research at Mote.
New College is a part of the Florida Institute of Oceanography which is a consortium of over 20 institutions and organizations focused on the marine environment. Members have access to research vessels as well as to the Florida Keys Marine Lab. Students have joined scientists as members of research teams and they have taken advantage of the Florida Keys’ site to collect organisms for their own research. Each year, opportunities for students open among members of the consortium. New College of Florida is also a member of both the Southern Association of Marine Labs (SAML) and of the National Association of Marine Labs (NAML). Through these organizations, opportunities for internships and other activities abound.
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Student-Run Native Plant Restoration Project