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Marine biology minor - Opportunities

Biology 4950: Biology of Galápagos

Biology of Galápagos is a four-credit course where you can immerse yourself in the biology of the Galápagos. You’ll visit a special place for biologists, environmentalists, and conservationists that is relatively devoid of settlers and human impact. And, you'll learn about contemporary evolutionary biology while you propose and conduct a biological research project in the Galápagos.

Students will meet for one week in the Twin Cities in May, followed by a 12-day excursion to Ecuador and Galápagos in June, July, or August. In 2018, travel dates are May 23-June 2. 

Cost: ~$5900 (cost includes international and domestic airfare, course fees, tuition, international health insurance, lodging and most meals, tour-guide fees, park entry fees, and taxes; cost does not include tips or souvenirs) 

CFANS 3502: Tropical Marine Biology and Shark Ecology

This extremely ‘hands-on’ field course is a collaboration between the world famous ‘Sharklab’, the University of Minnesota and Florida State marine program. Students work with active researchers while learning about tropical marine ecosystems (ex. sea grass meadows, mangroves, coral reefs, etc.), the organisms that inhabit them (fish, sharks, invertebrates, plants, algae, etc.) and policy issues. The last few days focus exclusively on shark biology and ecology, and include both collection and handling of large sharks. There are at least two snorkel trips each day.

After orientation meeting (not scheduled yet), students spend 8-10 days on Bimini in Bahamas. Travel dates are typically in mid-August. Course is presently 2 credits but may be increased to 3.

Cost: ~ $3500 and includes all airfare, food, lodging, instruction, insurance, lab fees, taxes, etc. (meals enroute and souvenirs not included)

Interested? Contact Dr. Peter Sorensen at

CFANS 3510: Wildlife Medicine and Conservation in Belize

This course covers the introduction to key topics in wildlife medicine. Students will learn medical issues and approaches, the role of the veterinarian in wildlife conservation, zoo medicine and wildlife rescue & rehabilitation. This program is held at the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic (BWRC) teaching facility with BWRC founder and wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand.

Labs include distance immobilization, suture, spay & neuter, necropsy, comparative anatomy, radiography, parasitology and blood analysis. Field visits are conducted with Dr. Isabelle to the Belize Zoo and to avian, reptile, primate and manatee centers. Students are introduced to preventative medicine and common diseases for many of these species. A spay & neuter lab reviews theory and suture practice, this is followed by a spay & neuter clinic organized in the field or at BWRC. Students also have the opportunity to observe, and when possible, assist the BWRC veterinary staff during their daily operations.

Cost: ~ $5900 and includes all airfare, food, lodging, instruction, insurance, lab fees, taxes, etc. (meals in route and souvenirs not included)

Interested? Contact Dr. Melissa Palmer at

Biology 4590 Coral Reef Ecology Seminar (offered in Fall, 2014), 2 credits
Biology 4596 Coral Reef Ecology Field Trip (offered in January, 2015), 2 credits

Learn about contemporary coral-reef biology and ecology.

Identify characteristics and ecological challenges faced by the major groupings of organisms inhabiting coral reefs (e.g., phytoplankton, macroalgae, invertebrate animals, chordates); articulate biogeochemical issues facing human-impacted coral reefs; summarize contemporary research relating to coral reef ecology.

Propose and conduct a research project on a coral reef*

Articulate a testable hypothesis to account for an unexplained natural phenomenon; design an experiment to test your hypothesis (within the constraints of the underwater habitat, and the one-week field course); analyze graphical representations of data in the context of a given hypothesis; evaluate data in the context of a given hypothesis; summarize your findings in a written report. Students will also become certified as Eco-Divers, through the international Reef Check program. This certification allows students to contribute to a global reef-monitoring program and contribute to a shared database documenting reef conditions.

*Priority will be given to students who have taken the two-credit Coral Reef Ecology Seminar during the previous Fall 2017 semester.

Travel dates for the field course are December 21, 2017-January 8, 2018.

Cost: ~$3500 (cost includes international and domestic airfare, lodging and most meals, international health insurance, lab fees, and taxes; cost does not include 2-3 meals, tips, and souvenirs)