Semester in Environmental Science (SES)

Undergraduate Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)The Marine Biological Lab from the air

As a result of the exciting new partnership between the Marine Biological Lab (MBL) in Woods Hole and the University of Chicago, undergraduates at University of Chicago can now participate in The Semester in Environmental Science (SES) program at the MBL during autumn quarter.  Established in 1997 the program targets undergraduates interested in environmental research, policy and management.  It provides rigorous, laboratory and field-based research experiences in the theory and practice of ecosystem science and biogeochemistry in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.  The 15-week curriculum focuses on the effects of global change on ecosystems with particular emphasis on how humans alter nutrient cycling and productivity.  Students investigate fundamental processes and interactions linking organisms with their environment in coastal forests, wetlands and estuaries on Cape Cod.  The program includes two core courses, one elective, and participation in a science-journalism seminar.  Students also complete independent research projects under the guidance and collaboration of MBL and University of Chicago faculty.  Students present the results of their research to the MBL scientific community at a symposium held at the end of the semester.

Coursework & Credit

SES students use a seine net during a collection tow along the shores of the MBL.University of Chicago students remain registered full-time in The College during their participation in the  SES program.  To receive credit from the College register in the Autumn quarter for BIOS 27710-27711-27712 (or ENSC 24100-23820-29800).  Choose your first preference for one elective within the program, either BIOS 27713, 27714, 27715 (or ENC 28100, 24200 or 24300).  Course titles, units of credit and grades will appear on your College transcript.  You are expected to hand in assignments as they come due, abide by course deadlines and submit all work by the end of the program.

The semester begins the first week of September, typically about four (4) weeks prior to the start of the College’s Autumn quarter and runs for a full semester (15 weeks), ending several weeks prior to the start of the winter quarter at the College.  For more information about the program please visit http://www.mbl.edu/ses/.

  • For Biology majors, three of the courses can be counted as upper level electives toward the Biology major while the fourth would count as a general credit towards your degree in the College.
  • For Environmental Sciences majors, two of the courses can replace required courses (ENSC 23900 Environmental Chemistry and ENSC 24400 Ecology and Conservation), and the remaining two can serve as electives toward the major.

Course Catalogue Descriptions

Registration for the following three (3) courses is required of all University of Chicago students in the SES program.

BIOS 27710 (ENSC 24100). Ecology – Marine Biological Laboratory. This course examines the structure and functioning of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems including the application of basic principles of community and ecosystem ecology.  The course also examines contemporary environmental problems such as the impacts of global and local environmental change on community composition and food webs within forest, grassland, marsh and nearshore coastal ecosystems on Cape Cod.

  • Instructor(s): Staff
  • Terms Offered: Autumn. L.
  • Prerequisite(s): Admission by application to the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; concurrent registration in BIOS 27711 and BIOS 27712 along with one of BIOS 27713, BIOS 27714 or BIOS 27715.

BIOS 27711 (ENSC 23820). Biogeochemical Analysis in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems – Marine Biological Laboratory. This course examines the interface of biological processes with chemical processes in ecological systems.  Course content emphasizes aquatic chemistry and the role of microbes in the cycling of nitrogen, carbon, and other elements.  Effects of global changes on chemical cycling are emphasized.

  • Instructor(s): Staff
  • Terms Offered: Autumn. L.
  • Prerequisite(s): Admission by application to the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; concurrent registration in BIOS 27710 and BIOS 27712 along with one of BIOS 27713, BIOS 27714 or BIOS 27715.

BIOS 27712 (ENSC 29800). Independent Undergraduate Research in Environmental Sciences - Marine Biological Laboratory. This course is the culmination of the Semester in Environmental Science at the Marine Biological Laboratory. An independent research project, on a topic in aquatic or terrestrial ecosystem ecology, is required. Students will participate in a seminar for scientific communication as well as submit a final paper on their project.

  • Instructor(s): Staff  
  • Terms Offered: Autumn. L.
  • Prerequisite(s): Admission by application to the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; concurrent registration in BIOS 27710 and BIOS 27711 along with one of BIOS 27713, BIOS 27714 or BIOS 27715.

Students doing research

Elective Courses

Students choose one (1) of the following three elective courses to complete their SES program registration.

BIOS 27713 (ENSC 28100). Quantitative Environmental Analyses – Marine Biological Laboratory. This course emphasizes the application of quantitative methods to answering ecological questions. Students apply mathematical modeling approaches to simulating biological and chemical phenomena in terrestrial and marine ecosystems.  This course is an elective option within the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

  • Instructor(s): Staff
  • Terms Offered: Autumn. L.
  • Prerequisite(s): Admission by application to the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; concurrent registration in BIOS 27710, BIOS 27711 and BIOS 27712.

BIOS 27714 (ENSC 24200). Methods in Microbial Ecology – Marine Biological Laboratory. This course explores the biology of microbes found in the environment, including relationships with the physical, chemical and biotic elements of their environment. Emphasis is placed on understanding the science underlying the various methodologies used in the study of these organisms and systems. In the laboratory, students will work with the latest techniques to measure microbial biomass, activity, extracellular enzymes, and biogeochemical processes.   Students are also introduced to molecular methods for assessing microbial genomic diversity.  This course is an elective option within the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

  • Instructor(s): Staff
  • Terms Offered: Autumn. L.
  • Prerequisite(s): Admission by application to the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; concurrent registration in BIOS 27710, BIOS 27711 and BIOS 27712.

BIOS 27715 (ENSC 24300). Roles of Animals in Ecosystems – Marine Biological Laboratory. This course addresses the question, how do animals, including man, affect the structure and function of ecosystems.  The course takes an interdisciplinary approach focused on the interactions of animal diversity, migration patterns, population dynamics, and behavior with biogeochemical cycles, productivity and transport of materials across ecosystems. This course is an elective option within the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

  • Instructor(s): Staff
  • Terms Offered: Autumn. L.
  • Prerequisite(s): Admission by application to the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; concurrent registration in BIOS 27710, BIOS 27711 and BIOS 27712.

Students conduct field research

Application Process

Students in the SES program are drawn from colleges across the nation, and admission to the program is by application.  Students applying should have completed the basic prerequisites of college biology, general chemistry and mathematics; either calculus or statistics.  Applications can be downloaded from the SES program website and must include an official transcript, and a signature from your College advisor.  Two letters of recommendation from faculty members or mentors that can comment on your preparedness and motivation to participate in this program must be submitted to SES (either by mail or email SES@mbl.edu).  Materials must be received on or before March 20, 2017.  Admissions decisions will be mailed on or about April 10, 2017.  For further clarification call 508.289.7777.

Once accepted into the SES program you will be required to complete:

Students working in a lab

Health, Safety and Conduct

As a student enrolled in the SES program at MBL, you should see yourself as a representative both of the College and as a good citizen who is engaging in the research and educational programs as part of the MBL and the broader Woods Hole communities. You must be mindful that you conduct yourself in accordance with local ordinances while you reside at the MBL, as well as with the relevant regulations of the University of Chicago as stated in the Student Information Manual (where applicable). You are expected to act as such, treating the program staff and fellow students with proper respect.

Students are reminded that alcohol consumption is restricted to persons of legal drinking age and that illicit drug use is strictly prohibited.  Conduct, whether lawful or not, that disparages the reputation of either the MBL or the College will be dealt with immediately and may result in termination from the program, institutional discipline and/or adverse legal action if applicable.

While at the MBL, you must have your own health insurance and/or accident insurance coverage that will cover any personal injury that you may sustain during this program, regardless of cause. You must be able to provide proof of such insurance upon request during your stay at the MBL and complete the Health Insurance Form.

Finances

College participants in the SES program will pay regular University of Chicago tuition, plus a $4,000 program fee, equivalent to a study abroad fee, that covers the cost of accommodations, program excursions, and meal plans.   Students are responsible for covering their own airfare and related travel expenses which are not underwritten by the Office of Financial aid.   Students currently living in College housing may opt out of University housing for the semester they are away, and are not billed for that semester.  Once accepted, students will be paired in dormitory-style housing with oversight provided by a residential teaching assistant.

Participants remain fully registered in the College and retain they financial aid eligibility while at the MBL.  Program fees are taken into consideration in determining the financial aid package for the semester and, since students cannot be expected to work part-time while away from campus, the self-help component of the financial aid package does not include a term-time employment factor.  All charges are billed by and paid to the University of Chicago.

Packing and Planning

Air temperatures on Cape Cod at this time of year average from the high 50s to the mid 70s, with seawater temperatures ranging between 56º and 70º. Cool ocean breezes blanket the village regularly.  This program involves extensive field work.  Please bring clothing appropriate for working in brushy environments and under wet, muddy conditions.  As the SES program continues into December, clothing should include materials to withstand the changing seasonal temperatures and weather conditions.

Travel Arrangements

Students are responsible for their own airfare and related travel expenses.  Upon acceptance you will be informed of the exact start date for the program. Local airports are Logan International Airport (Boston, MA.) or  TF Green Airport (Providence, RI.)

Map to MBL

Once you have made your flight arrangements, we encourage you to also book local transportation to and from the Marine Biological Laboratory by using either Peter Pan Bus, Green Shuttle or White Tie Limo services.

Further Information or to Submit Applications Contact:

Semester in Environmental Science
Marine Biological Laboratory
7 MBL Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

phone: 508.289.7777

SES@mbl.edu

Responsibility for day-to-day operations of the program and your general welfare is entrusted to the SES Program Director, the residential teaching assistant and the MBL Department of Education. 

 

Program Director
Dr. Kenneth H. Foreman
kforeman@mbl.edu
508.289.7348

Ecosystems Education Assistant
Alison Maksym
amaksym@mbl.edu
508.289.7777