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Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences

Summer Field Research Courses

Florida Tech’s field research courses offer a completely immersive experience for students interested in learning research techniques in exotic locations across the world.

Students take a deep dive into diverse environments including the rocky shorelines of the Galapagos, colorful coral reefs in Puerto Rico, wild Amazonian rivers and the whale friendly shores Oregon and Washington.

It’s not a vacation –it’s a life-changing experience that inspires a life-long passion for conservation, research and cultural appreciation.  

What’s unique about Florida Tech’s field research is that no matter which trip a student takes, they will have a consistent experience, with well-thought out daily objectives and student-led projects. Students have the opportunity to focus on a specific research objective over the duration of their trip.

Field research courses blend traditional classroom lectures and coursework with hands-on experience as they learn the tools of the trade. From learning how to conduct fish surveys to collecting data observing wild animals.

Students get a crash course of what life is really like for a research scientists. They will understand the unique intricacies and logistics navigating foreign countries and how to work with limited resources.



Peru Summer Field Research CourseArchaeo-ecology of the Andes Amazon
Dates: May 23 - June 8th
Professor Mark Bush, Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences  

Dr. Mark Bush leads a team of up to 15 student on a 16 day trek through Peru. During the trip students explore the Amazon rainforest and rivers while observing monkeys, birds, snakes, jaguars and other animals unique to this region. Working with local guides, students are able to go off the beaten path and explore areas rich in wildlife and research opportunities. Beyond the biological research, students are also able to explore the archeology of Machu Picchu and other historically significant sites.

To learn more, contact:  
Mark Bush, Ph.D.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Summer Field Research Course Biological Sciences Field Course 
MAR 2955 / MAR 5022
Dates: June 2-15, 2019
Professor Ralph Turingan, Program Chair of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences  

Every year Dr. Ralph Turingan takes up to 20 students on an expedition to Rincon, Puerto Rico. During the summer months, the surf is calm which allows students to easily navigate the Tres Palmas coral reef system. Students spend many hours snorkeling and diving coral abundant reefs around Puerto Rico. They spend hours learning how to conduct fish surveys, conduct transects and master other data collecting techniques. Mornings are spent in the classroom with Isla Mar Research Expeditions, a local company founded by Florida Tech alumni. During class, students gain a deep understanding of Puerto Rico’s unique eco-systems, both terrestrial and aquatic.

Students are also able to enjoy the culture of Puerto Rico with a day-trip to historic Old San Juan as well as connect with local experts on Puerto Rico’s ecology and culture. 

Check out this video of a past trip. 

To learn more, contact:
Ralph Turingan, Ph.D.


Galapagos Field Ecology
MAR 4904/5904
Dates (tentative): June 2020
Professor Mark Bush

Students are able to go off the beaten trail in the Galapagos with Dr. Mark Bush. Field work includes a variety of landscapes, both aquatic and terrestrial, from lush landscapes to arid deserts. Snorkeling off the rocky shores or hiking a volcano are part of the course experience which is further supported with local guides.

Before embarking on their daily adventure, students brush up on scientific journal articles about the habitats and animals they might encounter during their daily observations.

During the course, students are able to visit six islands, three with an indigenous population and three uninhabited. Common animals observed during the trip include sea lions, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, and sleeping sharks.

To learn more, contact:
Mark Bush, Ph.D.

Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest Summer Field CourseMarine Mammals Studies in the Pacific Northwest
BIO 3621
Dates (tentative): May 14 - 23, 2019
Assistant Professor Spencer Fire

Students interested in marine mammal biology will spend several days with Dr. Spencer Fire in Washington's San Juan Islands observing and studying marine mammals in their natural environment.  During this intensive field course, students will learn the methods, equipment and concepts that wildlife field biologists use as a daily part of their job . Students will participate in an existing research program conducting both boat-based and land-based surveys of harbor seals, sea lions, killer whales and baleen whales.  By the end of the course, the students will be trained in digital photography, boat handling, behavioral/spatial data collection, and other practical skills commonly required for a career in wildlife biology.  During the course, students will also develop their own research project questions and become familiar with how raw data is translated into results that affect marine mammal conservation policy.

To learn more, contact:
Spencer Fire, Ph.D.


Galapagos Summer Field CoursePacific Coastal Environments
Summer 2020
Professor Kevin Johnson

Undergraduate and graduate students travel to the Oregon Coast for an intense, two-week field course that covers aspects of marine biology, oceanography and coastal environmental issues with Dr. Kevin Johnson.   

Students explore important and critical concepts that arise from cold water habitats. During their field work, students survey salt marshes, tour temperate rainforests, take in tide pools, climb cliffs, meander through mudflats, clamber after crabs, search sea lion caves and delve into deep sea biology on a research cruise.

As they trek through various habitat, students also collect a variety of specimens to bring back to the lab. Students often find sea stars, sea urchins, nudibranchs, crabs, shrimp, worms and snails. 

Read more about past trips.

To learn more, contact:
Kevin Johnson, Ph.D.


Tropical Reef and Fisheries Ecology
Course Mar 3940 / MAR 5120
Dates: May 12-26, 2019
Associate Professor Jonathan Shenker

2019 marks the first year Dr. Jonathan Shenker will bring his research course to Belize. Students will spend two weeks on the Lighthouse Reef Atoll studying fisheries biology and reef ecology.  Emphasis will focus on tracking spawning migrations of tarpon, studying juvenile bonefish and tarpon and their habitats, monitoring larval fish recruitment, and examining the spectacular reef formations and world-famous Blue Hole of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Students will stay at the Itza Lodge with direct ocean access to snorkel and diving sites, fishing opportunities, and access to reef, flats, and mangrove habitats.

To learn more, contact:
Jonathan Shenker, Ph.D.