Around the Pier: Major and Minor News for Undergrads


An established leader in earth science graduate education for more than a century, Scripps Institution of Oceanography has expanded its official curriculum to include major and minor courses for both undergraduate students, in addition to its long tradition in graduate education.

UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Scripps Director Tony Haymet, and UCSD Vice Chancellor for Research Art Ellis attended a reception at Birch Aquarium at Scripps on Oct. 5 to celebrate the expanded offerings for students. Joined by a crowd of enthusiastic Scripps students, they officially welcomed UCSD’s earth sciences curriculum to the Scripps Department and announced the launch of Scripps’s new undergraduate marine science minor.

Scripps faculty members have taught a variety of UCSD undergraduate courses for years, but for the first time, Scripps is assuming full assignment of UCSD’s earth sciences major, which encompasses more than 28 programs with three choices of specialization. The launch of a new marine science minor also marks an important milestone for Scripps.

"I’m very proud to say that Scripps’s new marine sciences minor is growing rapidly,” said Haymet.

Only a few days after its launch, 15 students were already enrolled in the marine science minor, and that number continues to grow. Minors are not mandatory for UCSD students, and Scripps’s early numbers compare well with the university’s top science minor, biology, which enrolls 49 students.

“Scripps’s new marine science minor is an exciting development for our students,” said Chancellor Fox. “With UC San Diego’s proximity to the ocean and Scripps’s stellar reputation, this is a natural fit for students who want to explore the ocean environment.”

Incorporation of these new programs emphasizes Scripps’s commitment to undergraduate education and affords even more opportunities to involve undergraduate students in research. Reception guests had the opportunity to experience this by mingling with Scripps undergraduate student representatives whose research projects were on display.

A crowd favorite was a poster from assistant professor Katherine Barbeau’s student, senior Randelle “Randie” Bundy. Her display summarized data collected during a three-week National Science Foundation funded tour of California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) stations aboard Scripps’s R/V New Horizon. While at sea, Bundy assisted Barbeau with her research into the impacts of light and iron on chlorophyll concentrations as they related to phytoplankton growth at sub-surface ocean levels.

The education celebration also included a presentation of Scripps’s 2007 Teaching Excellence Awards. Student committee chairs Drew Lucas and Christian Anderson recognized Deputy Director of the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) and research professor William Hodgkiss as the Graduate Instructor Award winner, and research geophysicist Gabi Laske as the Undergraduate Instructor Award winner.

Hodgkiss was at sea during the reception and unable to accept his award in person, but Laske was present to share a few words of gratitude. “This award means the world to me because it gives me the greatest feedback that I can wish for,” said Laske of the annual award based on student evaluations.

A sample student evaluation of Hodgkiss’s teaching style demonstrates why he was a winner. “Few compare in terms of lecture clarity and ability to break down complex ideas into simple terms,” commented one student. “It is obvious in class that he genuinely cares about teaching students.”

A simultaneous celebration of students, research, education, and teaching, attendees of the event received a hearty reminder of Scripps’s strength and commitment to the future of ocean and earth science.

“Your research contributions make a difference in the world,” said Fox, “and it’s our goal to continue to prepare and train the next generation of researchers who will shape our world and make it a better place.”

-Shannon Casey

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