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Marine Science with emphasis in Physical Oceanography

College or University: University of South Carolina

Type of degree: B.S.

Brief overview of program: The Marine Science Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC (USC-Columbia) is an interdisciplinary educational program offering curricula which lead to the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Ranked fifth of 115 such programs by The Gourman Report, and named one of the top 10 programs in the country by the Chronicle of Higher Education, it is one of the premier educational programs in the nation, with prominent research affiliations, competitively awarded research grants and an interdisciplinary academic curriculum. The Marine Science Program is designed to be interdisciplinary; that is, to draw upon subject matter in many different fields of scientific endeavor. By being flexible, the Marine Science Program allows students, under the direction of a faculty advisor, to select courses from many areas in order to fulfill specific educational goals. Only in a program such as this, can courses be combined from Geology, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, Environmental Health and Social Sciences into an individually-tailored curriculum. Students in Marine Science may choose to specialize in biological, chemical, geological or physical oceanography or coastal resource management/marine affairs.

Website: Click here for program website

Tuition (2007):In State: 3973, Out of State: 10616

Number of students enrolled in 2007: 135

Where do most of the students go upon graduating or leaving the program?
Continue Education: 70% | Enter Workforce: 25% | Do not know: 5%

For the students that enter the workforce, what are the most common occupations that they pursue with this degree or certificate? Most of our students who enter the workforce after obtaining their B.S. work for government institutions (Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, State Regulation Boards, NOAA, etc.), non-profit organizations (Aquariums, zoos, State Land trusts, marine and coastal preservation ,etc.), private environmental firms, and educational agencies (local schools, environmental outreach programs, etc.).

Description of Facilities: In addition to the cutting edge facilities located at USC, the Marine Science Program works closely with the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine & Coastal Sciences. The Baruch Marine Field Laboratory is located on the Historical Hobcaw Barony property in Georgetown, SC. The main building (19,872 sq ft) of the complex comprises 18 air-conditioned research laboratories, a computer center, seminar room, conference-dining room, archived-sample room, classroom, site library, teaching lab, walk-in refrigerators and freezers, large screened work areas, and running seawater with technical and administrative support offices. An observation deck, piers, floating docks, boat ramps and a marsh boardwalks provide access to a variety of marine coastal habitats. Housing for researchers and students is available at the Kimbel Living & Learning Center. Boats and trucks and other resources are also available.

Program Faculty: Benitez-Nelson, Claudia (, Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1999. Biogeochemistry, Chemical Oceanography. Research: Particle formation and flux, phosphorus biogeochemistry, and natural and anthropogenic climate change. Field areas include the Black Sea, Cariaco Basin, Barents Sea, and Hawaii. Benner, Ronald (, University of Georgia, 1984. Biogeochemistry and Microbial Ecology. Research: The cycling of C, N and P in aquatic environments using field and laboratory approaches. The roles of microorganisms as producers and consumers of organic matter and the linkages among terrestrial, atmospheric and aquatic components of the biosphere are investigated. Field areas include the Arctic and the Sargasso Sea. Bulusu, Subrahmanyam ( Ph.D. University of Southampton, United Kingdom, 1998. Satellite Oceanography. Uses satellites to examine ocean color, sea level height, mesoscale processes, and ocean circulation. Feller, Robert J. (, School of Oceanography, University of Washington, 1977. Benthic ecology, food web interactions, biological oceanography, shrimp farming, marine science education. Research: Feeding rates and impacts of predation by epibenthic fauna on benthos. Habitats studied include intertidal mud and sand flats, shallow subtidal and intertidal saltmarsh, continental slope, deep sea, both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Fletcher, Madilyn ( University College of North Wales, Bangor, U.K. 1975. Marine Biology. Microbial ecology, coastal ecology, Coastal Ocean Observing Programs. Research: Microbial adhesion to solid surfaces, bacterial biofilm phenomena, and ecology of microbial communities. Involved in the development, implementation, and operation of southeastern regional coastal observing systems, as part of the national Integrated Ocean Observing System. Pinckney, James L ( Ph.D., University of South Carolina, 1992. Marine Ecology, Microbial Ecology, Phycology, Biometry. Marine and Microbial Ecology, Biological Oceanography, Biometry and Statistics Research: Ecosystem-level processes that influence community structure and function in estuarine, coastal, and extreme habitats. Field research is being conducted in the Bahamas (San Salvador Island), Gulf of Mexico, North Inlet Estuary (SC), and Galveston Bay (TX). Quattro, Joseph M. ( Rutgers University, 1991. Population and Conservation Genetics, Molecular Evolution. Research: Population genetics of rare, threatened or endangered fishes, including freshwater Carolina endemic fishes, marine fishes and elasmobranches; and gene expression patterns that attend exposure to contaminants in marine sentinel species (grass shrimp, silversides, mummichogs). Richardson, Tammi ( - Ph.D., Dalhousie University (Canada), 1996. Biological Oceanography, phytoplankton physiology and ecology including primary production, carbon and nitrogen cycling. Research: Photosynthesis, nutrient uptake and growth in marine phytoplankton and the role of phytoplankton in aquatic food webs, carbon and nitrogen cycling. Shaw, Timothy J. ( Scripps Institute of Oceanography. 1988. Trace Element Geochemistry, Environmental Analytical Chemistry. Research: Trace element geochemistry and development of new techniques for examining trace elements of both anthropogenic and natural origin in the environment. Study areas include the southeastern coast of the U.S. and the German Wadden Sea. Stancyk, Stephen E.(, University of Florida, 1974. Marine Ecology, Invertebrate Zoology, Reproductive Ecology. Research: Life histories of echinoderms, particularly regeneration, predation and behavior. Field areas include Southeast U.S., the Caribbean, New Zealand, Brazil. Styles, Richard ( -Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1998. Coastal Physical Oceanography and Coastal Wetlands Physics. Research: Bottom boundary layer turbulence, sediment transport, bed form morphology, and estuarine, marsh and river hydrodynamics. Research strategy includes an observational and theoretical approach to examine environmental issues within the southeastern United States. Voulgaris, George (, University of Southampton, 1992. Oceanography. Coastal Processes and Sediment Dynamics. Research: Utilize field data and numerical models to examine current circulation and wave propagation in coastal and estuarine environments. Coastal erosion, sediment resuspension and accumulation as well as contaminant and organic material transport in various environments throughout the world are areas of active research. Williams, Douglas F. (, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, 1976. Geological Oceanography, Geochemistry. Involvement of undergraduate and graduate students in the study of paleoclimate change and coastal processes in Russia, Mongolia, South Carolina and the Caribbean. -Stable Isotope Geochemistry of Biogenic Carbonates and Organic Matter as Applied to Problems in Paleoecology, Paleoceanography, Paleoclimatology, Paleolimnology and Chemical Stratigraphy. Yankovsky, Alexander (Sasha). ( ) -Ph.D., Marine Hydrophysical Institute, Sevastopol, USSR (Ukraine), 1991. Coastal physical oceanography, wave dynamics. Research: Dynamics on continental shelves and in marginal seas; wind- and buoyancy-driven currents, transient and time-variable processes, waves, wave-current interaction, mesoscale variability, adjustment of shelf currents to the topographic and coastline features; process-oriented numerical modeling, remote sensing, and observational data analysis.

Student Support: Between 10-15 scholarships are awarded each year to Marine Science undergraduates with outstanding academic achievement (including incoming Freshman). Out-of-state students who receive these scholarships may be eligible for a reduction in tuition if they meet a minimum weighted core GPA and standardized test score requirements set by the Office of Admissions. (Students who do not meet these minimum requirements will qualify for a tuition reduction in subsequent years if they maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.) Each scholarship is awarded on an annual basis and recipients must reapply each year. The Friends of the Baruch Institute typically fund five undergraduate scholarships at $500/year (250/semester). The David Odom Scholarship typically funds six undergraduate scholarships at $500/year (250/semester). One scholarship recipient is funded by the Palmetto Shell Scholarship ($250 for Fall only) and the BJ and RJ Canine Scholarship ($250 for Spring only). The submission deadline each year is April 1. Applications may be obtained from the Marine Science Program office

Program Point of Contact: Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson


Department: Marine Science Program

Institution address: University of South Carolina EWS 603, 712 Main Street
                             Columbia,SC 29208

Phone: 803.777.2692


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This project is supported, in part, by the NationalScience Foundation.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation.