Biology and Marine Biology

(Axel Boer) #1

candidates earning a degree in Marine Biology have a strong foundation in oceanography. If students have
not yet taken a graduate-level course in oceanography (BIO 564 in our department), they must do so before
they progress to this required seminar. Because of our department’s commitment to education, our Ph.D.
students also participate in a teaching practicum with classroom instruction in pedagogical techniques and
technologies. At the heart of the Ph.D. program is the student’s development as an independent
researcher. We feel that the flexibility offered by the seminar format, as well as the interactive and
participatory nature of seminar courses, fosters this development. As stated above (Section 3.a.), our
objective in offering this degree is to serve students with interests in conducting research in academia,
industry, and government along with those who intend to become faculty in undergraduate teaching
institutions, managers in technology-based industries and policy makers in government.
The ability of our program to achieve its objectives is assessed at several points during each Ph.D.
student’s tenure at UNCW. During their first year in the program, Ph.D. students develop a dissertation
proposal. This proposal, which can be written as an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant or in a
more traditional proposal format (i.e. including a comprehensive literature review) is critically evaluated by
the mentor and dissertation committee and must be approved by the committee before the student can
Ph.D. students must complete an oral qualifying exam. This exam consists of both a (a)
presentation of the dissertation proposal as a departmental seminar and (b) a candidacy exam to permit
questioning of the proposal and areas covered. During these events, the student must demonstrate their
scholarly authority of, and their ability to competently answer questions on, their research project as well as
demonstrate a broader understanding of marine biology. The proposal and candidacy exam must be
completed before the beginning of the 3rd year of study.
The dissertation, written in the format of a series of manuscripts, represents the formal culmination
of each Ph.D. student’s graduate experience within our department. At the time of the last program review,
one Ph.D. student had produced a dissertation, defended it, and graduated. Since 2007, an additional 1 7
students have successfully defended their dissertations and graduated from the program. Since 2007, our
Ph.D. students have published 81 papers from their work in our department.


The Department of Biology and Marine Biology does not offer any graduate-level certification
programs. The department does participate in the interdisciplinary M.S. in Marine Science program. Over
the sixteen years of the M.S. in Marine Science program, biology faculty members from our department
have directed or co-directed 72 of the 130 total students who have participated in this master’s program.
Our program also provides support for selected M.S. Marine Science students in the form of graduate TAs,
and we are pleased to have these students contributing to our undergraduate teaching mission. Our
introductory course, BIO 501: Introduction to Science as a Profession, services those M.S. Marine Science
students who have biology faculty as their advisors, and our graduate courses serve as core and elective
courses in the M.S. Marine Science curriculum. We participated in the planning of the multidisciplinary
M.A. in Environmental Sciences, some of whose students now take our graduate courses, and the
interdisciplinary M.S. in Coastal and Ocean Policy; two of our faculty now teach a course that serves that
program. The department is also involved at this time in planning for an inter-institutional Ph.D. program
in coastal and marine science with East Carolina University (program title yet to be decided).
In addition to these established inter-disciplinary graduate programs, our faculty and students are
actively involved in a wide range of interdisciplinary, multi-institutional scientific programs that benefit
the community. These include the Coastal Ocean Research and Monitoring Program and the Lower Cape
Fear River Program. In addition, faculty and students participate in programs with the UNCW Marine
Mammal Stranding Program, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital, Ft. Fisher Aquarium, Cape Fear

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