How To Apply

BMSS Fall 2021 – Information Session
March 4, 2021. 6 pm via Zoom


  1. Please send us a short essay (< three pages please) describing why you wish to participate in the Marine Science Semester, and any previous research or field experience (outside of class).
  2. Include the names of two professors or lab instructors that we can use as references.
  3. Submit your applications to Steven Allen: ,
    and also cc: Dave Carlon
  4. Due Friday April 9th, 2021
  5. Notifications will be e-mailed on April 19th

Course Modules

  1. Benthic Ecology, BIOL 2233/ENVS 2333, (a. INS, MCSR), Dave 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 Schiller Coastal Studies Center. Benthic Ecology is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester and is taught with three other co-requisite courses.

  1. Methods in Ocean Change Ecology, BIOL 2503/ENVS 2233 (a.INS, MCSR), Katie DuBois

Explores how marine organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems will respond to global ocean change. Concepts in ecology, behavior, physiology, and evolution will be highlighted to demonstrate how marine systems are affected by ocean change factors like warming, ocean acidification, hypoxia, habitat loss, and invasive species. Emphasizes in-depth discussion of key literature to exemplify the theory, study design, and analysis tools marine scientists employ to research current and projected ocean change. Also integrates laboratory, fieldwork, and computer activities to illustrate approaches to monitoring and predicting shifts in biological communities. Taught in residence at Schiller Coastal Studies Center. Ocean change ecology is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester and is taught with three other co-requisite courses.

  1. A History of Harpswell and the Coast of Maine, History 2129 / ENVS 2449, Sarah McMahon

This intermediate-level course 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 deepsea fisheries, shipbuilding and shipping, poverty and living on the margin, and the rise of tourism 

  1. Current Topics in Marine Science, BIOL 3117/ENVS 2217, Justin Bauman

Current Topics and Research in Marine Science is an experiential research course in which students design and carry out an individual semester long research project. In an advanced seminar setting, students choose topics and learn to (1) search for information in the scientific literature; (2) evaluate the utility of papers to their research topic; (3) identify gaps in existing understanding; (4) formulate hypothesis-driven research questions; and (5) utilize the R programming environment for analysis and presentation of scientific data. Ultimately, students design and carry out a research project that includes integration of their understanding of the scientific literature. Students present their results in a final oral presentation and written paper.

Independent Research Project

The student-driven independent research project (IR) is a capstone of the BMSS experience, and many students choose to enroll for this purpose. Work on these projects starts with the choice and refinement of a topic/thesis during the 1st module and progress with methods refinement, data collection, analysis, writing, and finally an oral presentation at the end of the semester. Students will work with the instructional team to develop their project, hypotheses, and methods.

Field Trips

There are three overnight field trips during the BMSS. These trips are designed to give the student hands on experience in unique marine environments in Maine and in tropical coral reef systems, as exemplified by the coral reefs of the Big Island of Hawaii. Living in the field, you will develop systematic expertise of the local marine organisms and develop your skills sampling techniques to quantify ecological patterns in these systems.

*** Dates of these trips in 2019 are given below. Please note they are likely to change in 2021 as we develop the complete semester schedule. ***

  1. Kent Island, Bay of Fundy, Canada, September 13 – 16
  2. Hurricane Island, Penobscot Bay, Maine, September 27 – 30
  3. Big Island of Hawaii, October 10 – 18

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'.

Pre-requisite: Two of either Bio 1102 or Bio 1109 and Math 1000 or higher.

If you have questions about the application process or the Marine Science Semester in general, contact Steve Allen