Please contact Katie Wood if you are thinking about coming to the Marine Lab in Beaufort for the spring. Housing assignments are automatic with your registration at the Marine Lab. Information about residence life and move-in will be provided after registration.

For spring 2024, the Marine Lab will offer courses in a block schedule format. Students register for one course per block.

Travel Courses: The Marine Lab expects to offer spring travel courses, as appropriate, based on local, regional, national and international standards for COVID-19. Travel course locations may change. See the schedule below for travel course offerings as they are confirmed. Please visit the Marine Lab's Travel Course Information page for full course details. 

Research Independent Study: Download the Spring Research Independent Study Options (PDF). Interested students should contact potential advisors to identify a project. When an advisor and project are finalized, Gwendy Womble can send you a permission number.


The Marine Lab's spring semester start/end dates and residence hall move-in/move-out dates may differ from the Duke academic calendar. Please consult the Duke Marine Lab Academic Calendar for important spring semester dates.

Tentative 2024 Block Dates: 
Block A: January 10 - February 8 (no class on January 15, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day)
Block B: February 9 - March 8
Spring Break: March 8 (7 pm) - March 17
Block C: March 18 - April 9
Block D:  April 10 - May 3

    Spring 2024 Courses 

    Download a copy of the Spring 2024 DUML Block Schedule >


    Instructor: Juliet Wong

    • Curriculum Codes: NS, R
    • Credit: 1.0 course (4 credit/semester hours) 
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI/BIOLOGY/ENVIRON 377LA

    An introduction to the biodiversity represented by major marine invertebrate groups, with emphasis on the diversity of body forms and behaviors and on anatomical structures and functions. Field trips primarily by boat allow students to explore invertebrates characteristic of a variety of coastal habitats in North Carolina, including mud flats, sandy beaches, salt marshes, oyster reefs, piers and docks, and the water column. Live invertebrates maintained in the laboratory serve as models for detailed study of form and function.


    Essential biology of sea turtles (evolution, anatomy, physiology, behavior, life history, population dynamics) and their conservation needs; emphasis on their role in marine ecosystem structure and function. Basic ecological concepts integrated with related topics including the conservation and management of endangered species, the contributions of technology to the management of migratory marine species, the role of research in national and international law and policy, and the veterinary aspects of conservation.


    • Instructor: Carter Smith
    • Curriculum Code: NS
    • Credit: 1.0 course (4 credit/semester hours)
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI 301LA

    This course provides an introduction to restoration ecology and ecological restoration. We will explore the major ecological theories that guide restoration ecology as well as the unique considerations and techniques needed to restore the world’s dominant coastal ecosystems (e.g., saltmarshes, seagrass beds, coral reefs, etc.), and we will conclude by focusing on challenges and opportunities for ecosystem restoration in the 21st century. Students will participate in lectures, discussions, and field trips. Recommended pre-requisite: Introductory biology or environmental science.


    Experiential education course on community-based conservation. Students learn first-hand about the challenges (accomplishments, failures, and promises) involved in its design and practice in developing countries of high biological diversity. Learn about the unique natural and political history, and social characteristics of the places where conservation takes place. Students link local context to broader perspectives through key readings and class discussions.


    • Instructor: Josh Osterberg
    • Curriculum Codes: NS, R, W
    • Credit: 1.0 course (4 semester hours)
    • Course Travel: No
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, BIOLOGY, ENVIRON 278LA
    • Recommended prerequisites: credit for AP biology, introductory biology or environmental science, or consent of the instructor, and introductory chemistry.

    Physiology of marine animals with emphasis on comparisons between marine vertebrates and humans. Focus on physiological processes including gas exchange, circulation, osmoregulation, metabolism, thermoregulation, endocrine, neural control and sensory systems. Lectures and laboratories illustrate the methodology, analysis techniques, and written reporting of physiological research.)

    This course fulfills the structure/function requirement for Biology majors and the Organismal Structure/Function requirement for Environmental Science majors (BS) and the marine science section for Environmental Science and Policy Majors (AB). 


    • Instructor: Jim Hench
    • Curriculum Codes: NS, QS 
    • Credit: 1.0 course
    • DukeHub Listings: MARSCI476A, ENVIRON 476A

    This course is designed for students in marine and environmental science disciplines to learn data analysis skills, including analysis techniques and their implementation using MATLAB or R. Topics include: discrete sampling issues, data outlier and rejection tests, interpolation and gridding, error and propagation of uncertainty, coordinate rotations and principal axes, curve fits, regression, bootstrapping, filtering, spectral and harmonic analysis, spatial analyses. Other topics may be included or substituted depending on student interests. The course is structured as mix of weekly lectures and linked workshops applying methods to marine and environmental data sets. Taught in Beaufort at Duke Marine Lab. Instructor consent is required.


    • Instructor: Cindy Van Dover
    • Curriculum Codes: NS, STS
    • Credit: 1.0 course (3 credit or semester hours)
    • Course Travel: No
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, ENVIRON 512A

    Deep-Sea Science and Environmental Management explores ecosystems in the deep sea, including fundamental aspects of geology, chemistry, and biodiversity; behavioral, physiological and biochemical adaptations of organisms (primarily invertebrate, but may include microbial and vertebrate components) to deep-sea benthic and bentho-pelagic environments will be introduced; students will gain an understanding of the ecosystem services of the deep sea; issues in deep-sea environmental management arising from exploitation of deep-sea resources will be discussed.


    • Instructor: David William Johnston
    • Curriculum Code: NS, STS
    • Credit:1.0 course (3 credit/semester hours)
    • Course Travel: No
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, BIOLOGY, ENVIRON, 335A

    Includes a full overview of past and emerging applications for ecology and biology of marine species and coastal habitats with in-depth discussion on future of drone applications in coastal biological and ecological research. Comprehensive exploration of current drone technologies, including detection limits of target species, payload selection, operational procedures aeronautical concepts, rules and regulations, safety, mission planning, aircraft design, maintenance, data collection, management and analysis. Biological and technical lab components tailored to student interests:

    Active participation in megafaunal or environmental research and data analysis. Building, operating and maintaining aircraft, programming for manual and autonomous flight.

    The use of unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS) is changing how marine scientists collect data on animals and the environments they inhabit.  This course introduces students to the basics of using UAS in marine environments, presenting examples of existing and emerging applications, detailing the types of sensors used for marine applications, describes the sampling complexities of the marine environment, and provides and overview of typical workflows and data management. Details on regulatory and permitting requirements to fly UAS and legally and safely are also covered. The lab portion of the course will focus on basic aeronautics, flight planning and simulations, and the design, assembly, operation and maintenance of unoccupied aerial vehicles. Check out Duke's Unoccupied Aircraft Facility website :


    •  Instructor: Brian Silliman
    • Curriculum Codes: NS, R, W
    • Credit: 1.0 course (4 credit/semester hours)
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, BIOLOGY, ENVIRON 273LA/EOS 374LA
    • View  linked Travel Course Page for Costs and Policies: (will be updated for 2024 in October) 

    • Distribution, abundance, and diversity of marine organisms, including a survey of the major flora and fauna in the marine environment, including physical characteristics, adaptation to environment, species interactions, biogeography, larval recruitment, and biodiversity and conservation of communities found in rocky shores, tidal flats, beaches, marshes, mangrove, coral reefs, and subtidal areas. Lectures, field excursions, lab exercises and an independent project.


    • INSTRUCTOR: Lisa Campbell
    • DukeHub Listing: ENVIRON 551DA
    • Duke Curriculum Codes: CCI, SS
    • Credit: 1.0 (3 credit/semester) 

    International Conservation and Development. CCI, SS Interrelated issues of conservation and development. Topics include the evolution of the two concepts and of theories regarding the relationship between them, the role of science, values, ethics, politics and other issues in informing beliefs about them, and strategies for resolving conflicts between them. While attention will be given to all scales of interaction (i.e. local, regional, national, international), the focus will be on international issues and the `north-south’ dimensions of the conservation and development dilemma. Examples from marine and coastal environments will be highlighted. Consent of instructor required. Taught in Beaufort at Duke Marine Lab. Instructor: Campbell. C-L: Marine Sciences, Marine Science and Conservation



    • Instructor: Doug Nowacek
    • Curriculum Codes: R, STS, NS
    • Credit: 1.0 course (3 credit/semester hours)
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, ENVIRON, ECE, ECS, 280LA
    • Course Travel: No

    Fundamentals of marine bioacoustics with a focus on current literature and conservation issues. Topics include: introduction to acoustics; acoustic analysis methods and quantitative tools; production and recording of sound; ocean noise; propagation theory; active and passive acoustics; hearing, sound production and communication in marine organisms, potential impacts of anthropogenic noise; and regulation of marine sound. Labs will focus on methodologies used for generating, recording and analyzing marine sounds. Taught in Beaufort at Duke Marine Lab. Prerequisite: AP Biology, introductory biology, or consent of instructor; Physics 141L or 164L (or equivalent Physics courses) or consent of instructor.


    • Instructor: Thomas Fred Schultz
    • Curriculum Codes: NS, STS
    • Credit: 1.0 course (4 credit/semester hours)
    • Course Travel: No
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI 304SLA, BIOLOGY 304SLA

    Current sequencing technologies have revolutionized the fields of molecular, evolutionary, and ecological genetics. The ability to generate an entire genome worth of sequence data in a single instrument run allows us to study whole genomes in a variety of non-model organisms. In this course, we will use the genomes of marine mammals to explore the field of genomics.  The course will start out with basic genomics (ie. Genome-101), move on to sequencing technologies and bioinformatics, and then explore conservation, ecological and evolutionary genetics of marine mammals using the literature and publicly available datasets. 


    • Instructor: David Gill
    • Curriculum Code: EI, NS, SS
    • Course Travel: No
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, ENVIRON 504A

    An interdisciplinary course that addresses concepts, issues, and approaches relevant to marine protected area (MPA) management and their impacts on marine ecosystems and coastal people. Course will address key topics in MPA design, management, and how context and management shapes MPA design and outcomes. This course will focus on sensitive marine ecosystems (e.g. coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses) and resource-dependent communities involved in fishing and tourism.  Using real world case studies, students will apply introduced concepts and quantitative approaches to questions on MPA design and evaluating MPA social and ecological impacts. Students will engage with the course material primarily through group discussions, problem sets and lectures.


    • Curriculum Code: R
    • Credit: 1.0 course (3 semester hours)
    • Course Travel: No
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, BIOLOGY, ENVIRON, ECS 

    Individual research in a field of special interest, under the supervision of a faculty member.

    Interested students should contact potential advisors to identify a project. When an advisor and project are finalized, Gwendy Womble can send you a permission number.


    • Instructor: Grant Murray
    • Curriculum Codes: EI, SS
    • Credit: 1.0 course (3 credit/semester hours)
    • DukeHub Listing: MARSCI, ENVIRON 305SA
    • Course Travel: No

    This course will explore theoretical, methodological and applied aspects of social impact analysis (SIA).  Many environmental professionals become involved in social impact analysis during their careers on a recurring basis.  Forms of SIA are a mandated component of key oceans and environmental policies, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (National Standard 8).  Moreover, sound social impact analysis is an important and powerful tool for good environmental planning in marine and coastal systems whether or not it is required by law, relates to government action, or is focused on the United States

    Generally speaking, SIA addresses the social impacts of events or actions.  The events or actions that precipitate an SIA include such things as planned physical or environmental changes, the implementation of policies or regulations, or conservation interventions.  SIAs can be post hoc, where SIA seeks to understand the impacts of a past event, or ex ante, where SIA seeks to predict the impacts of an event.  SIA can also be used to monitor and adapt to ongoing events and actions.   In all cases, however, good SIA should involve all potentially affected groups, should consider impact equity and differences by location and socio-economic status, and should consider a holistic and contextually grounded range of impacts, from the socio-cultural to the economic.

    This course will first develop an understanding of some of the core concepts and applicable sociological theory upon which the design of social impact analysis is built.  The first part of the course will develop the capacity to ‘think sociologically’ about environmental problems and the impacts that they create.  Next, we will review some of the key US policies and guidelines that require and inform SIA.  The third part will provide an overview of some of the key methods and approaches that are used in SIA to generate more inclusive decisions that protect the environment and integrity of the communities that share its abundance and meaning.  Throughout we will review and critique a range of US and international SIA examples.


    The mix of human ecology, tropical diversity, disturbed habitats and invasive species in Singapore. How Singapore maintains and enhances the quality of life of its citizens while radically modifying its environment. Research on politics, management or biology. Consent of instructor required. 


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