February 22, 2002

Laboratory Offers Summer Research Program

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The Shoals Marine Laboratory will once again be offering its non-credit and credit-bearing classes for students and adults to experience marine science this summer.

For over a quarter of a century, SML has been offering research-based courses to undergraduates. The program’s site in the Gulf of Maine is only open during the summer, according to Sarah Jordan, business manager of SML.

Undergraduate courses range from one to four weeks and award anywhere from two to six credits in a variety of courses, from Field Marine Science, and Biology and Ecology, to Marine Vertebrates, Wetlands Resources and Biological Illustration, according to Christine Bogdanowicz, program manager of SML.

“Some students will spend the entire summer there,” Jordan said.

Prof. John Kingsbury, emeritus, plant biology, started the program in 1966, with the intention of establishing a marine laboratory that focused on undergraduate education, according to Bogdanowicz.

When asked about approximate numbers of program participants, Bogdanowicz estimated that 200 students earn credit each summer at SML, with Cornell students typically accounting for 15-20 percent.

Qualified students may earn a full semester’s college credit (up to 16 credit hours) in three summer months and they may apply for any number of non-concurrent courses, according to Jordan. “It’s a very intensive program as students are in class all day long,” Bogdanowicz explained.

SML’s curriculum encompasses a variety of marine disciplines. The academic programs span a variety of courses for undergraduates, graduates and professionals. The adult education courses are open to anyone, while the full academic courses target university students from around the country. Students who participate are usually as biology majors, geologists with interests in marine life, and oceanographers, according to Prof. Charles Greene, earth and atmospheric sciences.

“Students usually apply to the program because they have an interest in marine biology, or they think they may pursue it as a career. It is perfect for getting the field-experience in a hands-on setting,” Jordan explained.

The marine laboratory operates from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences based in Stimson in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire. Students from around the world enroll in SML courses, and credit can be granted from either institution, according to Bogdanowicz.

The seasonal field station’s 95 acres are located on Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals in the Gulf of Maine.

Lying six miles offshore from the Maine/New Hampshire border, Appledore is a natural laboratory and classroom, according to Jordan. The rocky intertidal zone, seabird colonies, and the open sea are right outside the door at SML, furthering the educational experience in marine biology.

“We have labs with running sea water where professors can lecture on marine organisms while they are still alive. Students use microscopes, videos and computers to produce reports as well,” Bogdanowicz said.

Participants and faculty members can immerse themselves in their explorations, free from the distractions commonly found on and around every mainland campus.

“Students go eight miles offshore and live on a rock. It’s a total immersive educational experience, where you live, eat and sleep marine science. After completing the program, [some] students say that this is the best course or the best experience they’ve had in their entire life,” Greene added.

“Our director spends the summer on the island and there are several Cornell faculty that teach there as well,” Jordan said.

“Shoals” refers to a school of fish. When large groups of them congregate in shallow waters, they can be harvested, according to Jordan.

“You really develop a sense of community, making wonderful connections with nature. The educational community is isolated, as one needs a boat to get to the island. There is truly no direct connection to the mainland,” Bogdanowicz said.

Archived article by Chris Westgate