About the Program

The Scholars in Marine Medicine program is an interdisciplinary undergraduate research experience at the nexus of medicine and marine science. The Scholars in Marine Medicine program will support pre-health undergraduate majors who have an interest in marine biology or environmental science. 

    All scholars will spend at least one semester at the Duke University Marine Laboratory (DUML) and one or more semesters at the Medical Center campus in Durham. Scholars will have funding available for travel to conferences, research supplies, classes, and other professional development activities. In addition to the training that they receive, a community of scholars will be developed within each cohort of scholars, among alumni of the program, and with the scholars in the two parallel Marine Lab Scholars programs, the Repass-Rodgers Scholars and the Rachel Carson Scholars.


    Abbey M T'22

    "I love the Scholars in Marine Medicine program for many reasons, some being the amazing community within the scholars, the connections with incredible mentors, and the freedom to explore my research passions. I love marine biology and medicine separately, but this program allows me to integrate my two interests with incredible guidance and channel my ideas into tangible research products! Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made at Duke."

    Abbey Milwicz T'22


    Program Components

    Faculty-Mentored Research

    Scholars in Marine Medicine will engage in an immersive research independent study experience in their sophomore and/or junior year. Scholars will perform research at both the Duke University Marine Lab and Duke’s main campus, where faculty mentors on each campus will guide students through their research projects. Scholars will focus on research that cuts across disciplines, such as:

    • Cross-species comparative genomics and physiology to understand health-relevant adaptations
    • Understanding the risk of cancer from exposure to environmental toxins
    • Bioengineering organisms to degrade marine plastic
    • Discovery of new drugs from marine compounds

    Scientific Training

    Scholars will participate in both structured and informal training activities that will contribute to a broad undergraduate research experience. Training activities will include the discussion and review of scientific literature, experiential learning, and scientific communication.

    Newly-selected Scholars in Marine Medicine will meet weekly beginning in November of their first fall semester as scholars. These meetings will alternate between lab meetings to go over research progress and peer-led mentoring to review and synthesize previously discussed material. Additionally, scholars will participate in monthly journal club meetings. Collectively, these discussions will foster scientific communication and critical thinking skills.

    Professional Development

    During the fall semester of their senior year, Scholars in Marine Medicine will join the Rachel Carson Scholars and the Repass-Rodgers Scholars in bi-weekly seminars, professional development workshops, and networking events. Scholars will benefit from workshops on scientific writing, science communication, graduate education, and career opportunities. Senior scholars will also be involved with mentoring the new class of scholars in Durham to prepare them for their Scholars in Marine Medicine experience and research.

    Graduation With Distinction

    In their senior year, scholars will write up their research projects as an honors thesis for Graduation with Distinction. The ultimate goal of the thesis will be to publish the research results in a peer-reviewed journal.