Marine Science Semester Program

The Bowdoin Marine Science Semester (BMSS) is a Fall semester immersion experience in marine field work, lab work, and independent research.

The Program

Students take four courses sequentially in three-to-four week modules taught at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory and Coastal Studies Center in Harpswell, Maine. The module style allows for continuity of laboratory and field research.

Field Work

Hands on field work and cutting edge laboratory science are a central component of the BMSS.

  • The Benthic Ecology course includes a 10 day field seminar to the Gulf of California, Baja California Sur to study the natural history and unique ecological properties of this highly productive and exceptionally diverse tropical marine ecosystem.
  • In the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, BMSS visits Hurricane Island, off Rockland, Maine, and Bowdoin’s Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada.

In both locations collection and curation of a long-term dataset to access changes in the intertidal community as climate changes in the Gulf of Maine has begun. Several cruises collect physical data and phytoplankton for the Biological Oceanography module, and the Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution module, which also features a student driven population genomics study focusing on intertidal snails, and utilizing next generation sequencing technology.

Enroll for Fall 2017

Contact Rosie Armstrong, Program Coordinator (by emailto: rarmstro@bowdoin.edu) by February 27, 2017.

The program is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors from Bowdoin and colleges participating in the Twelve College Exchange (Amherst, Connecticut, Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Trinity, Vassar, Wellesley, Wheaton, Wesleyan, and Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program (and Bowdoin).

Students from Twelve College Exchange schools should apply through the Twelve College Exchange application process for study at Bowdoin, indicating the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester under 'courses' and 'intentions'.


Fall 2016 Course Offerings

Benthic Ecology (a. INS, MCSR) David Carlon.
The principles of ecology emphasizing the hard- and soft-bottom communities of Casco Bay and Harpswell Sound. Field trips and field exercises demonstrate the quantitative principles of marine ecological research, including good practices in sampling designs and field experiments. A class field project designs and implements a long-term study, based at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, to monitor and detect changes in community structure driven by climate change in the twenty-first century. Assumes a basic knowledge of biological statistics. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, Biology 2232/Environmental Studies 2232 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231), Biology 2330 (same as Environmental Studies 2233), and English 2802 (same as Environmental Studies 2802) are co-requisites of this course. Pre-requisite: Tow of either Bio 1102 or Bio 1109 and Math 1000 or higher.

Biological Oceanography. 
(a, INS) Bobbie Lyon.
Features classroom, laboratory, and fieldwork emphasizing fundamental biological processes operating in pelagic environments. It includes a hybrid of topics traditionally taught in physical and biological oceanography courses: major ocean current systems, physical structure of the water column, patterns and process of primary production, structure and function of pelagic food webs. Field trips to Casco Bay and Harpswell Sound will introduce students to the methods and data structures of biological oceanography. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, Biology 2501/Environmental Studies 2231 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), Biology 2330 (same as Environmental Studies 2233), and English 2802 (same as Environmental Studies 2802) are co-requisites of this course. Pre-requisite: Two of either Bio 1102 or Bio 1109 and Math 1000 or higher.

Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution. (a. INS, MCSR) Sarah Kingston.
Features the application of molecular data to ecological and evolutionary problems in the sea. Hands on laboratory work will introduce students to sampling, generation, and analysis of molecular data sets with Sanger-based technology and Next Generation Sequencing. Lectures, discussions, and computer-based simulations will demonstrate the relevant theoretical principles of population genetics and phylogenetics. A class project will begin a long-term sampling program that uses DNA barcoding to understand temporal and spatial change in the ocean. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, Biology 2330/Environmental Studies 2233 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231), and English 2802 (same as Environmental Studies 2802) are co-requisites of this course. Pre-requisite: Two of either Bio 1102 or Bio 1109 and Math 1000 or higher.

Writing about the Coastal Environment.
(c.) Russ Rymer.
A creative writing course whose subject is environmental science. Students spend a month in a concentrated writing program involving intensive reading and composition. The reading emphasizes the work of science journalists and of scientists writing for lay publications. Analyzes the readings to explore what makes a worthy (or flawed) translation of complicated science concepts into layman’s language. Considerations of accuracy, complexity, readability, and style are applied directly to students’ writing projects, which include daily blog posts, short assignments, and a longer opus requiring more extensive research and reporting whose final form incorporates all aspects of long-form science writing. Writing assignments are designed to help students bridge between their scientific research and the larger public world that their research involves and affects. To that end, stories may dovetail with lab work students have been pursuing during the semester. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center, English 2802/Environmental Studies 2802 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2501(same as Environmental Studies 2231), Biology 2330 (same as Environmental Studies 2233), and Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232) are co-requisites of this course.

    * a: Natural science and Math
       c: Humanities
       INS: Inquiry in Natural Science
       MCSR: Math Comp Stat Reasoning