Marine Biology (MB)

The Marine Biology Curricular Group is comprised of two tracks:

Marine Biology (MB) is the study of marine organisms. It is concerned with evolutionary, organismic, genetic, genomic, physiological, and biochemical processes in these organisms, and the relationship between them and their biotic and physical environment.

Marine biology encompasses several major areas of modern biology, and is interpreted by understanding the physical and chemical dynamics of the oceans. Faculty research focuses on microbiology, photobiology, invertebrate biology, vertebrate biology, high pressure biology, deep-sea biology, developmental biology, genetics, comparative biochemistry, eco-toxicology, physiology, behavior, ecology, biogeography, taxonomy, and evolution.

Processes ranging from coral larvae recruitment to the role of bacteria in marine food web dynamics are under study in over twenty independent research laboratories.

Marine Chemical Biology (MCB) is an interfacial discipline combining the fields of chemistry and biology to study and manipulate biological systems with the use of chemical, biochemical and genetic techniques and tools. Currently most of the investigations in the MCB track are focused on the discovery and application of marine microbial natural products and the study of biochemical processes utilized to create these unique molecules.

Marine natural products are amongst some of the most structurally novel in the natural world, and their chemical description is critical to developing their full biomedical and biotechnological value as well as exploring their functional roles in our natural world. Understanding the biosynthesis of these marine natural products by a combination of organic chemistry and recombinant biology approaches lays the foundation for the discovery and application of novel biosynthetic enzymes and the rational metabolic engineering of designer molecules. Some of these metabolites may have utility as biological reagents, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, biofuels, or other commodity chemicals. Innovative analytical methods are also being utilized to probe the sites of natural products’ biosynthesis in complex associations of marine species, including those involved in symbiotic relationships.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Ph.D. program listed here, a major in one of the biological sciences (or equivalent), with basic course work in botany, microbiology, or zoology, as well as two years of chemistry, including organic chemistry, is required.  Training in one or more of the following areas is strongly recommended: cellular biology, molecular biology, comparative physiology, genetics, developmental biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, vertebrate and invertebrate zoology, microbiology, and/or botany.  Biochemistry and physical chemistry will be expected of students in experimental biology, although the student may, if necessary, enroll in these courses at UCSD after admission.

Programs of Study

PhD:

Students admitted to Ocean Bioscience Program (OBP) are assigned an adviser, who is a chair of the three-person guidance committee. Students are assigned to a curricular group based on their interests. Although students may change curricular groups near the beginning of the year, they must commit to a curricular group early on because this determines which departmental exam they will take.  During the year, students may be supported in a variety of ways. After the first year, the guidance committee is dissolved and the research adviser, and eventually the dissertation committee, provide guidance.

Marine Biology Curriculum:  Graduate students are expected to gain research experience in one or more laboratories during their first year.

In the spring term of their first year at SIO, students will take a departmental exam consisting of a presentation of their first-year research in the form of a paper and short talk to the curricular group, followed by a meeting with their first-year advisory committee. In this exam they also will be expected to demonstrate competence in the material covered in the following courses: SIO 210, 260, 280, 290A-B as well as any other course work recommended by the advisory committee.

After their first year, students are expected to enroll and actively participate in at least one seminar course (SIO 278, 296, or equivalent) per year that will provide in-depth knowledge and reading in selected areas, as well as practice presenting scientific material.  Students fequently take additional SIO and UCSD Division of Biology courses based on their research interests and general scientific education.

In addition to the seminar requirement discussed above, second-year students will present their research in a special Marine Biology mini-symposium, held in spring quarter; students in the second through fourth years are expected to participate in the research presentation class (SIO 291) each year. Marine Biology students provide annual spring quarter oral or poster presentations of their research through their fifth year.

Marine Chemical Biology Curriculum:  Graduate students are required to complete SIO core courses including SIO 210, Physical Oceanography, SIO 260, Marine Chemistry, and SIO 280, Biological Oceanography. In the spring term of their first year at SIO, students will take a departmental exam consisting of a presentation of their first-year research in the form of a paper and short talk to the curricular group, followed by a meeting with their first-year guidance committee. In this exam they also will be expected to demonstrate competence in the material covered in the following courses: SIO 210, 260, and 280 as well as any other course work recommended by the guidance committee.

Marine Chemical Biology graduate students are expected to gain research experience in one or more laboratories during their first year.  Additional courses that are recommended as electives in this Track, the exact composition of which will be decided by discussion between the student and the student’s first year guidance committee, include CHEM 257, Bioorganic and Natural Products Chemistry, SIO 242A-B, Marine Biotechnology I and II, SIO 264, Special Topics in Marine Natural Products Chemistry, and at least one of the following two courses: CHEM 254, Mechanisms of Organic Reactions and/or CHEM 258, Applied Spectroscopy. These are typically taken over the first two years of study. Additional electives, seminar courses, and special topics courses in graduate science and oceanography are available.

Second-year students will present their research along with students in the Marine Biology mini-symposium which is held in spring quarter.

MS:

Marine Biology Curriculum:

Required course work-

  • SIO 210. Physical Oceanography (4 units)
  • SIO 260. Marine Chemistry (4 units)
  • SIO 280. Biological Oceanography (4 units)

Elective course work-

Students may fulfill the remaining units of required course work through elective course offerings that may be recommended by the guidance committee. This typically includes SIO 290, Marine Biology.

Marine Chemical Biology Curriculum:

Required course work-

  • SIO 210. Physical Oceanography (4 units)
  • SIO 260. Marine Chemistry (4 units)
  • SIO 280. Biological Oceanography (4 units)

Elective course work-

Students may fulfill the remaining units of required course work through elective course offerings selected in consultation with the students’ guidance committee. Typical recommended electives are below:

  • Chem 257. Bioorganic and Natural Products Chemistry (4 units)
  • SIO 232. Ethical and Professional Science (2 units) or equivalent
  • SIO 242 A-B. Marine Biotechnology I and II (8 units)
  • SIO 264. Special Topics in Marine Natural Products Chemistry (3 units)
  • Select at least one of the following:
    Chem 254. Mechanisms of Organic Reactions (4 units) and/or
    Chem 258. Applied Spectroscopy (4 units)

 

Research in Marine Biology

Of the sixteen categories of research at Scripps, the MB group is most closely associated with the following integrated research themes:

Marine Biology Faculty and Researchers: