Recent News

We’re hiring!

By Julia HammerFebruary 28th, 2019

We are looking for instructors for two courses to be taught in the 2019 Marine Semester.

Lecturer for Tropical Marine Fisheries

The Marine Program at Boston University invites applications for a part-time Lecturer beginning October 1, 2019 to teach a Tropical Marine Fisheries course. We seek a colleague with a strong commitment to undergraduate education and a track record of excellence in teaching. Responsibilities include revising the existing course to reflect current fisheries issues, correspondence with other Marine Semester instructors to help in planning travel logistics, and teaching a research-based course in Boston and Belize. See full details here

Lecturer for Marine Megafaunal Ecology

The Marine Program at Boston University invites applications for a part-time Lecturer beginning September 1, 2019 to teach a Marine Megafaunal Ecology course as part of the Marine Semester. The Marine Semester is an intensive research-based semester offered to Marine Science majors, minors, and graduate students. We seek a colleague with a strong commitment to undergraduate education and a track record of excellence in teaching. Responsibilities include correspondence with partners to plan course logistics and teaching a research-based course. See full details here

Microplastics discovery made by BUMP Seniors

By Julia HammerFebruary 27th, 2019

Hayley Goss and Jacob Jaskiel, both seniors majoring in Marine Science, made the discovery that microplastics have made their way to the very base of the food chain.

“Originally, Goss and Jaskiel were collecting seagrass blades with the intention that, back at Rotjan’s laboratory in Boston, they would count up the number and different kinds of epibionts—the “salad dressing”—on each blade.

“We brought back 16 different blades from different seagrass beds, and we thought all we were going to do was taxonomically characterize the organisms we found on them,” Jaskiel says. “In addition, the number of parrotfish bite marks on each blade would help us quantify which blades were most appetizing.”

But that’s not what happened. Instead, Goss had a sample under the microscope when she caught sight of something alien.

“I had the scope open and I saw a very thin, bright red fiber,” Goss says. “I said to Jacob, ‘Hey, take a look at this.’”

Jaskiel peered into the microscope and did a double take of his own. “Right away, I saw it.” It was undeniably a fiber. A microfiber, made of plastic, by the looks of it. But…how?”

Microplastic Pollution Found in Seagrasses

3rd Annual Night at the BU Aquarium

By Julia HammerFebruary 11th, 2019

Join us for touch tanks, lab tours, prizes, and more!

Currently looking for artists to participate in our marine-inspired popup gallery. All mediums welcome! Please contact Julia Hammer Mendez at for more information.

Chris Reyes wins the first Lara Vincent Research Assistance Award

By Julia HammerFebruary 8th, 2019

Congratulations to Chris Reyes (BUMP ’19) for winning the Lara Vincent Research Assistance Award!

Carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for keeping the Earth warm, have increased considerably since the 1700s and are negatively affecting organisms all over the world. These emissions are not only causing global ocean temperatures to rise, but also resulting in reductions in seawater pH, termed ocean acidification (OA). We conducted a controlled 16-day laboratory experiment to investigate the effect of pH stress on the common slipper shell snail Crepidula fornicata, an abundant and resilient species native to Eastern North America. We aimed to determine how the physiology and gene expression of these snails is affected by OA and how these responses differ between larvae and juveniles. To assess the effects of OA on the physiology of the snails, we measured shell and tissue growth rates and assessed ability of larva to transition to juvenile under three different pH treatments (7.5, 7.6, 8.0). I am currently analyzing gene expression results in order to profile genome-wide gene expression and correlate it with the physiological data across treatments and life stages. I hope to show how transcriptomic plasticity, the ability for genes to express differently as a function of the environment, can allow highly resilient organisms like C. fornicata to acclimate to drastically altered environmental conditions in the face of climate change.

Chris will use the award to offset publication costs for an upcoming submission to Frontiers in Marine Science.

Fall 2019 Marine Semester Applications now online

By Julia HammerFebruary 4th, 2019

To enroll in our highly acclaimed Marine Semester, click here now!

Marine Semester courses are field and lab-intensive experiences – each lasting for one month. Students are able to choose between 3-4 courses each month to do cutting edge research, get hands on experience, and learn from experts in the field.


Warren McLeod Fellowship Winners

By Grace ChuMarch 21st, 2018

Congratulations to the following students who were chosen to receive the prestigious Warren McLeod Fellowship awards!


Tina Barbasch – Annual Award Winner


“Conflict is a pervasive feature of animal societies. Conflicts arise whenever the interests of interacting individuals are not wholly aligned, yet many social interactions require individuals to reach some compromise. Parental care is a classic example of an interaction that is rife with conflict yet requires cooperation because both parents benefit from shifting the burden of care to the other. The outcome of conflict between parents has been modeled using economic game theory models, which assume that individuals act in their best interest but that their optimal behavior depends on how others behave. Studying how conflict among caring parents is resolved is critical to understanding why animals, including humans, form such alliances.

The goal of my research is to test plausible alternative hypotheses for the factors that govern how parents negotiate the amount of care to provide to their offspring, and create a more general framework for understanding conflict resolution. To accomplish this goal, I will build on existing empirical and theoretical work to test alternative hypotheses for how parents negotiate care utilizing a tractable study system: the clown anemonefish. Experiments will be conducted in a natural population of anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) in Papua New Guinea. The anemonefish system allows tests of alternative hypotheses simultaneously, where previous studies have only tested them in isolation. Furthermore, the majority of negotiation studies have been conducted in birds, so developing A. percula will function to test the generality of theoretical predictions. In sum, my research uses a tractable study species together with a rigorous alternative hypothesis testing approach to determine the factors that influence the outcome of negotiations. This research will help to create a more general framework for studying conflict resolution and potentially transform our understanding of negotiations over offspring care.”


Karina Scavo – Summer Award Winner


“Mangrove habitats have recently been proposed as climate refuges after reef coral species survived a bleaching event on nearby reefs. For this mangrove-refuge hypothesis to be true, mangroves must act as ecological sources, which would entail that they can support viable and self-sustaining coral populations, and that individuals within mangrove and reef habitats can acclimate to each habitat. This work seeks to shed light on this mangrove-refuge hypothesis by determining the long-term growth, survival, and self-recruitment capacity of a mangrove population of the thin finger coral,Porites divaricata in Calabash Caye, Belize. It also seeks to explore how these demographic processes are affected by spatial variation in the mangrove environment. This work will also explore the degree to which mangrove and reef colonies P. divaricata individuals can acclimate to a different habitat both at the morphological and molecular level, by evaluating how/if colony form and gene expression are altered after being transplanted to different environments. While evidence for the mangrove-refuge hypothesis is growing, the capacity for mangroves to act as a source has yet been studied. This work will help test the validity of the mangrove-refuge hypothesis and may be critical to the design of marine protected areas by revealing the significance of protecting and preserving the connectivity between mangrove and coral reef habitats which could have profound implications for future reef recovery.”




Emily Chua – Summer Award Winner


“For my Ph.D. research, I am helping to develop an underwater instrument to investigate biogeochemical processes occurring in marine sediments.  The sediments are key sites of nutrient recycling and removal and act as a filter of reactive nitrogen from the coastal ocean. Human perturbations (e.g., sewage discharge, warming water temperatures) are affecting coastal ecosystems with potentially adverse consequences on the functioning of marine sediments.  Currently, very little is known about the direction and magnitude of nitrogen fluxes in the sandy sediments which are prevalent in coastal marine ecosystems. This knowledge gap is due to the fact that it is notoriously difficult to sample in sandy sediments.  Previous sampling methods fail to accurately represent the natural flow field of the interstitial water. This “porewater advection” is important in transporting solutes and reaction end-products in sandy sediments and must be accounted for in order to accurately estimate chemical fluxes.  In collaboration with SRI International (St. Petersburg, FL) and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (SkIO), I am working on a porewater sampler coupled to an underwater mass spectrometer – the POSUMS – which measures the concentrations of biologically-important dissolved gases (e.g., N2, N2O, O2, CO2, CH4) in the interstitial water of sandy sediments in situ.  My role in this project is to guide the development of the POSUMS, from benchtop prototype to fully field-deployable instrument, and to use this instrument to better constrain nitrogen cycling in a local, anthropogenically-impacted estuary, Narragansett Bay (RI).  Our ultimate vision is that the POSUMS will be deployed on the continental shelf and provide biogeochemical data which can improve global climate models.”


Nicholas Ray – Summer Award Winner


“My dissertation research is focused on how oysters and different oyster habitats change biogeochemical cycling in a temperate estuary (Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island). Oyster populations are increasing along the East Coast of the US primarily because of growing oyster aquaculture and to a lesser extent because of restoration efforts. Oysters can be described as ecosystem engineers – altering the environment they live in by the way they filter the water column and metabolize food. Because of their amazing filtering capacity (around 170 L per day!), they have the power to transform and recycle carbon and nutrients with profound impacts on water quality and sediment characteristics, with implications for coastal biogeochemistry. I am specifically interested in the influence of oysters on biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen, silica, and greenhouse gases. In my research, I have recorded how different oyster habits and the length of time oyster aquaculture gear has been in place influences these cycles. I hope that my work can be used to better understand the important role oysters play in coastal systems, and potential impacts of restoring oyster populations.”


Dive into Climate Change – Special Seminar

By Julia HammerMarch 21st, 2018

Please join the BU Marine Program for our annual Lang Lecture. This year, Stephen Palumbi will be speaking on climate change adaptations among marine organisms.

“Climate change adaptations of wild populations from corals to fish: the power of deep genomics”

April 19, 6:00 PM

BU Law Auditorium, 765 Commonwealth Ave. 

Can’t make it to the talk? See the livestream here.

Steve Palumbi is the Director of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, Professor in Marine Sciences and Senior Fellow at theSteve and AcroporaStanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Steve has long been fascinated by how quickly the world around us changes. Work on the genomics of marine organisms tries to focus on basic evolutionary questions but also on practical solutions to questions about how to preserve and protect the diverse life in the sea. Steve has lectured extensively on human-induced evolutionary change, has used genetic detective work to identify whales, seahorses, rockfish and sharks for sale in retail markets, and is developing genomic methods to help find ocean species resistant to climate change. Work on corals in American Samoa has identified populations more resilient to heat stress. Work at the Hopkins Marine Station focuses on how sea urchins, abalone and mussels respond to short term environmental changes and to environmental shifts over small spatial scales.

Dr. Suchi Gopal is Panelist for “The Journey to Confidence” session.

By Julia HammerOctober 30th, 2017
Dr. Suchi Gopal is Panelist for “The Journey to Confidence” session.
Society for Women in Marine Science (SWMS) Fall 2017: The 4th Annual SWMS Symposium, Friday, November 3, 2017, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. Woods Hole, MA.
For full details on the symposium, visit

Special Seminar on Acropera White Syndrome Outbreaks in Indonesia

By Julia HammerSeptember 8th, 2017

Acropora White Syndrome Outbreaks in the North Coast of Java Sea, Indonesia

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Ir. Agus Sabdono

 Sabdono, A.1,2 , Ambariyanto1,2, M. Helmi2  and A. Wirasatriya2
1) Marine Science Department, FFMS, Diponegoro University, Indonesia
2) Center For Coastal Disaster Mitigation and Rehabilitation Studies (CoReM), Diponegoro University

This special seminar will be held in CAS 132 at 3pm

Coral reefs are experiencing a recent period of severe decline due to emerging coral diseases. Acropora White Syndrome (AWS) has been reported worldwide with increasing dramatically in the number of host species and geographic ranges. However, little is known about how AWS is caused. This disease is now recognized as one of the major causes of reef degradation and coral mortality in Indonesian waters. Several strategies have been attempted to stop spreading and progressing of coral diseases. However, those approaches were none have been tried with any success on a large spatial scale. Our primary objectives of this research were to investigate the prevalence, spatial distribution, and variability at temporal scales of AWS in polluted and unpolluted areas; to isolate, characterize and identify the bacteria associated with AWS and healthy corals; to investigate the causative agents of AWS coral diseases; to screen anti-pathogenic property of bacterial healthy coral symbionts against the causative agents of AWS and to develop  pellets of anti-pathogenic AWS bacterial consortia.

To achieve these objectives, integrated methods of survey, explorative, laboratory and field experiments in the field major of oceanology, pathology, marine microbiology, marine biotechnology and ecology were used. This study was started by conducting surveillances, coral sampling, and underwater documentation, oceanographic measurements, isolation and purification of bacteria associated with diseased and healthy corals, postulate Koch’s experiments in the laboratory and fields, screening of anti-bacterial symbionts against coral pathogenic strains via soft agar overlay and agar diffused method. The experiment was finished by conducting polyphasic identification. The developing pellets of anti-pathogenic bacterial consortia are still ongoing study. The results of the research are expected to be used as ‘embryonic’ marine industry for ‘biocontrol agents’ pellets on a large scale in the future regarding enhancing management, conservation, and protection of coral reef ecosystems.