Plankton Biology Field Trip

It's shaping up to be a busy summer for University Programs summer field courses, but there's still time to register. The undergraduate and graduate courses give undergraduate and graduate students the chance to get into the field, learn research techniques, use what they've learned in the classroom, and build a network with faculty and future marine scientists. 

The summer field courses are split into three sessions with nearly two dozen course opportunities. Studies include topics like Sea Level Rise, Plankton Biology, Coastal Birds, and the Ecology of the Florida Everglades.

Avian Ecologist Dr. Mark Woodrey with Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center leads the Coastal Birds course during the first session. 

"The coolest part of the class is getting students into the field, and getting to visit some awesome natural areas along the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast that not many people get to experience," Dr. Woodrey said. 

Students also get the chance to observe colonial nesting birds on Cat and Coffee Island and learn about bird banding. 

Dr. John Dindo holds a bird while talking with the Coastal Birds course students.

Auburn University's Dr. Anthony Moss delivers a memorable encounter for students with the drifters of the ocean, plankton. Jellyfish and ocean sunfish are among the plants and animals that float along at the mercy of the sea's tides and currents. 

Dr. Moss covers all classes of plankton during the second session course. Two offshore field trips and three or more shoreside trips to different coastal environments give students the chance to collect, identify, and quantify using classic and modern techniques. 

"We'll also examine the effects of changes in seasonal timing on trophic levels, hypoxia, harmful algal blooms, and impacts on coastal fisheries," Dr. Moss explained.

University Programs summer field courses aim to cover as many coastal environments possible to give marine science students a chance to broaden their understanding. During the May Term, Dr. Lee Stanton of the University of West Alabama brings students into the Florida Everglades for a first-hand look at the ecology. 

Learn more about the University Programs summer field courses and how to register at