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.


Fall 2017 Course Offerings

Benthic Ecology, BIOL 2232 (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: Two of either Bio 1102 or Bio 1109 and Math 1000 or higher.

Biological Oceanography, BIOL 2501  
(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, BIOL 2330 (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.

History of Harpswell and the Coast of Maine, HIST 2129  (c.) Sarah McMahon
Examines the long history of Harpswell as part of the coast of Maine, and the research methodologies used to uncover and analyze that history from environmental, community, socio-economic, political, racial and ethnic, and cultural perspectives.  Topics include bonds and tensions in a peninsula and islands community, coastal agriculture and stone walls, inshore and deep-sea fisheries, shipbuilding and shipping, the Civil War, poverty and living on the margin, and the rise of tourism.  Field trips around historic Harpswell and nearby Casco Bay and trips to archives at George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, Pejepscot Historical Society, Harpswell Historical Society, and Maine Maritime Museum.  For each student, the course will culminate with a research project prospectus for a projected essay on an aspect of that history. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory, History 2129/Environmental Studies 2449 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231), Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), and Biology 2233 (same as Environmental Studies 2233) are co-requisites of this course. Pre-requisite: None.

        
             Course Divisions, and distribution requirement designations:
       a: Natural science and Math
       c: Humanities
       INS: Inquiry in Natural Science
       MCSR: Math Comp Stat Reasoning