Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology Major (B.S.)

Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology Major (B.S.)

MEFB Students out on Saywer Pond

What is marine, estuarine and freshwater biology?

Marine, estuarine and freshwater biology is a wide-ranging discipline that covers everything from the smallest aquatic microbes to whales, as well as emerging opportunities in shellfish, fish and seaweed farming. The program builds on a core curriculum in math, chemistry, physics and biology, and branches out into the aquatic sciences. Students specialize in their own areas of interest, preparing for exciting careers in fields including research, teaching, conservation, restoration, fisheries and aquaculture.

Why study marine, estuarine and freshwater biology at UNH?

State-of-the-art facilities, hands-on learning with an emphasis on undergraduate student research, and an incredible location make UNH the perfect place to study marine, estuarine and freshwater biology. The university is close to the New Hampshire Seacoast, the Lakes Region and the White Mountain National Forest, providing endless opportunities to study aquatic organisms and ecosystems. UNH has aquaculture facilities and coastal and estuarine research laboratories such as Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, Coastal Marine Laboratory and Shoals Marine Laboratory. Together with Cornell University, it administers the summer undergraduate programs at the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

Potential careers

  • Aquariums and ecotourism
  • Biotechnology
  • Conservation/environmental protection
  • Education
  • Environmental consulting
  • Fisheries/aquaculture/ecological restoration
  • Fisheries management
  • Research

Contact

Gregg Moore

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
Phone: (603) 862-5138
Office: Biological Sciences, Spaulding Hall Rm G68, Durham, NH 03824

Department of Biological Sciences
University of New Hampshire
Spaulding Hall
38 Academic Way
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-4400

Connect with us

MM/DD/YYYY
  • UNH Researchers Detect Heavy Pollution on Martha's Vineyard
    UNH researchers have found high levels of dangerous toxins from cyanobacteria in many of the freshwater, brackish and saltwater ponds on Martha's Vineyard, prompting concern among Island health and water quality experts.
    UNH Researchers Detect Heavy Pollution on Martha's Vineyard
    UNH researchers have found high levels of dangerous toxins from cyanobacteria in many of the freshwater, brackish and saltwater ponds on Martha's Vineyard, prompting concern among Island health and water quality experts.
  • Dept. Faculty Offer Cheers and Good Wishes
    The Department of Biological Sciences wants to make sure all its 2020 graduates know that the faculty are thinking of them as they celebrate their achievements and look forward to what's next.
    Dept. Faculty Offer Cheers and Good Wishes
    The Department of Biological Sciences wants to make sure all its 2020 graduates know that the faculty are thinking of them as they celebrate their achievements and look forward to what's next.
  • Bonnie Brown, Amy Papineau Graduate from LEAD21
    Bonnie Brown and Amy Papineau were among the 90 professionals from the nation's land-grant system who recently completed the LEAD21 leadership development program.
    Bonnie Brown, Amy Papineau Graduate from LEAD21
    Bonnie Brown and Amy Papineau were among the 90 professionals from the nation's land-grant system who recently completed the LEAD21 leadership development program.
  • Research, Outreach and Adventure at Sea
    Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology major Marissa Cartee ’21 relays the exciting details of her recent summer internship at Whale and Dolphin Conservation. 
    Research, Outreach and Adventure at Sea
    Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology major Marissa Cartee ’21 relays the exciting details of her recent summer internship at Whale and Dolphin Conservation. 
  • An Internship Changes An Outlook
    Meet another one of COLSA’s 2019 SOAR Fund recipients, Timothy Readdean ’19. Timothy used the stipend to take an unpaid summer internship at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut.
    An Internship Changes An Outlook
    Meet another one of COLSA’s 2019 SOAR Fund recipients, Timothy Readdean ’19. Timothy used the stipend to take an unpaid summer internship at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut.

Curriculum & Requirements

The Major in Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology is intended to give students interested in the fields of marine and freshwater biology the background and direct hands-on experience needed to pursue productive careers, including potential advanced study.  This strategically cross-disciplinary major builds on a broad set of science courses in high-impact areas of study for today’s world, represented by a core curriculum in math, chemistry, physics, and biology.  The core background is strengthened by a series of required and elective courses in a diverse range of aquatic sciences spanning watersheds to oceans, providing opportunities for study from organismal to ecosystem scales. Designed to provide a solid foundation of knowledge in freshwater, estuarine, and marine biology, the MEFB Major allows flexibility and encourages students to focus on particular areas of interest from molecular biology to ecosystem and policy studies.  Students will have the opportunity to specialize in areas of their own interest, such as aquaculture and fisheries, animal behavior, ecological restoration, or management. While MEFB students must complete rigorous course requirements, our students are encouraged to tailor their elective courses within and across departments and colleges as needed to build their own, unique cross-disciplinary path.

The University of New Hampshire is uniquely located for the study of aquatic organisms and their habitats. We are centered between the Great Bay Estuary and the Gulf of Maine, with easy access to diverse marine environments as well as the freshwater habitats of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and the White Mountain National Forest. We boast three Marine Laboratories that provide exceptional opportunities for our student’s research and educational needs, including Jackson Estuarine Laboratory (JEL), the Coastal Marine Lab (CML; part of the larger Judd Gregg Marine Research Center), and the Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML), as well as strong affiliations with the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  While JEL is located on Great Bay in Durham, CML is in nearby New Castle at the Seacoast, and SML is located six miles off the coast. SML provides summer undergraduate programing with field-based marine courses that fulfill major electives, as well as internships and research opportunities for advanced study. In addition, UNH’s campus maintains two fish aquaculture facilities, a world-class genomics laboratory, and the State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which provide hands-on opportunities for undergraduates.  There is also an active diving program with courses at both beginner and advanced levels. A major strength of the MEFB program is the hands-on approach to learning combined with an emphasis on involving undergraduate students in mentored research opportunities.

Biological Sciences Core
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular4
BIOL 541Ecology4
BMS 503
BMS 504
General Microbiology
and General Microbiology Laboratory
5
GEN 604Principles of Genetics4
CHEM 403General Chemistry I4
CHEM 404General Chemistry II4
CHEM 545
CHEM 546
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory
5
BMCB 658
BMCB 659
General Biochemistry
and General Biochemistry Lab
5
MATH 424BCalculus for Life Sciences4
or BIOL 633 Data Analysis for Life Science
or BIOL 711 Experimental Design & Analysis
BIOL 528Applied Biostatistics I4
PHYS 401Introduction to Physics I4
PHYS 402Introduction to Physics II4
MEFB Required Courses
MEFB 401Marine Estuarine and Freshwater Biology: Freshmen Seminar1
MEFB 503Introduction to Marine Biology4
Choose one Plant Survey course:4-5
MEFB 625Introduction to Marine Botany5
or MEFB 747 Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management
Choose one Freshwater course:4
MEFB 719Field Studies in Lake Ecology (C)4
or MEFB 717 Lake Ecology
Choose one Physiology/Function course:4-5
ZOOL 625
ZOOL 626
Principles of Animal Physiology
and Animal Physiology Laboratory
or MEFB 773
Physiology of Fishes
Choose one Marine or Estuarine course:4
MEFB 725
Marine Ecology
or MEFB 755
Biological Oceanography
Choose one Animal Survey course:
ZOOL 542Ornithology4
MEFB 628Marine Invertebrate Evolution and Ecology5
ZOOL 710Sharks and Bony Fishes4
MEFB Electives: Choose 3
Evolution, Systematics and Biodiversity
BIOL 566Systematic Botany4
GEN 713Microbial Ecology and Evolution4
MEFB 500Coastal Habitat Field Research Methods (SML, C)4
MEFB 510Field Ornithology (SML)4
MEFB 535Marine Mammal Biology (SML)4
MEFB 625Introduction to Marine Botany5
or MEFB 747 Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management
MEFB 628Marine Invertebrate Evolution and Ecology5
MEFB 630Biodiversity and Biology of Marine Invertebrates (SML)4
MEFB 741Sharks: Biology and Conservation (SML)4
MEFB 754Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates (SML)4
MEFB 747Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management (SML)4
NR 504Freshwater Resources4
NR 712Mammalogy4
ZOOL 518Comparative Morphology and Biology of Vertebrates4
ZOOL 542Ornithology4
ZOOL 690Evolution (C)4
ZOOL 710Sharks and Bony Fishes4
Fisheries and Aquaculture
MEFB 702Sustainable Marine Fisheries (SML)4
MEFB 755Biological Oceanography4
MEFB 772Fisheries Biology: Conservation and Management3
MEFB 773Physiology of Fishes4
ZOOL 610Principles of Aquaculture4
ZOOL 710Sharks and Bony Fishes0 or 4
Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Ecology
ESCI 501Introduction to Oceanography4
GEN 713Microbial Ecology and Evolution4
MEFB 500Coastal Habitat Field Research Methods (SML, C)4
MEFB 508Integrated Ecosystem Research and Management (SML)4
MEFB #515Marine Environmental Science and Conservation (SML)4
MEFB 625Introduction to Marine Botany5
MEFB 628Marine Invertebrate Evolution and Ecology5
MEFB 674Ecology and Marine Environment (SML)4
MEFB 714Field Animal Behavior (SML)4
MEFB 717Lake Ecology4
MEFB 719Field Studies in Lake Ecology (C)4
MEFB 721Aquatic Invasive Species (SML, C)4
MEFB 725Marine Ecology (C)4
MEFB #732Lake Management (C)4
MEFB 741Sharks: Biology and Conservation (SML)4
MEFB 747Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management4
MEFB 751Research in Marine Biology (SML, C)4
MEFB 755Biological Oceanography4
NR 703Watershed Water Quality Management4
NR #711Wetland Ecology and Management4
NR 744Biogeochemistry4
ZOOL 708Stream Ecology4
ZOOL 733Behavioral Ecology (C)4
Physiology, Behavior and Cell Biology
ANSC 701Physiology of Reproduction4
BIOL 701Plant Physiology4
BMCB 605Principles of Cell Biology4
BMS 716Public Health: Food- and Water-borne Diseases4
MEFB 714Field Animal Behavior (SML)4
MEFB 773Physiology of Fishes4
ZOOL 625
ZOOL 626
Principles of Animal Physiology
and Animal Physiology Laboratory
5
ZOOL 733Behavioral Ecology4
ZOOL 777Neuroethology4
Restoration Management and Policy
MARI 405Introduction to Marine Mammal Science and Policy3
MARI 705Introduction to Marine Policy: Understanding US Ocean, Coastal and Great Lakes Policy3
MEFB 505Introduction to Applied Science Communication4
MEFB 702Sustainable Marine Fisheries4
MEFB 747Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management4
MEFB 772Fisheries Biology: Conservation and Management3
ZOOL 610Principles of Aquaculture4
Research and Special Projects 2
BIOL 600Field Experience (C)1-4
BIOL 795Independent Investigations (C)1-4
BMS 795Investigations in Biomedical Science (C)1-8
MEFB 500Coastal Habitat Field Research Methods (SML, C)4
MEFB #732Lake Management (C)4
MEFB 730Underwater Research (SML, C)4
MEFB 751Research in Marine Biology (SML, C)4
MEFB 770Senior Capstone in Marine, Freshwater, and Estuarine Biology (C)2
TECH 797Undergraduate Ocean Research Project (C) 32
ZOOL 795Special Investigations (C)1-4
Capstone 1

A minimum grade of C- is required in all biological science courses that are counted toward the requirements for a degree in MEFB. Students who expect to compete successfully for post-baccalaureate programs should attain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of the sophomore year and maintain it at that level.

Capstone Experience

Students must complete a Capstone during their senior year. The Capstone explores areas of interest based on the integration of prior learning with focused skill-building experiences. Capstones may be satisfied through created work or products, various forms of experiential learning (e.g., Honors thesis, mentored research project, internships, study abroad, or other special student activity agreed upon by undergraduate advisor). The Hamel Center (https://www.unh.edu/undergrad-research/) is an excellent resource of campus-based research opportunities for MEFB students. In addition, several specialized courses may also count as capstones, as denoted by “(C)” in Table, above. Students should consult with their advisor to determine the activities that satisfy this requirement. Departments are responsible for certifying that graduating seniors have met Capstone requirements for their majors.

Off Campus Coursework and Study Abroad Opportunities

It is strongly recommended that students consider participating in a summer, semester, or year-long study abroad program. UNH’s Shoals Marine Laboratory (https://www.shoalsmarinelaboratory.org/), in conjunction with Cornell University, offers a host of marine biology-related college level courses that meet many degree requirements of the MEFB major over the summer on our island campus in the Isles of Shoals. SML offers both Merit and Need-based Scholarships, multi-course discounts, as well as competitive Research Internships offering summer stipends. UNH Global is the definitive resource for Study Abroad opportunities for undergraduates (https://www.unh.edu/global/education-abroad). UNH Global can provide information on programs of study, while students’ academic advisors can assist in course selection options that provide equivalencies to requirements in MEFB so progress toward degree is not compromised.  In addition, Ecoquest, run by the Department of Natural Resources, offers summer and semester programs of environmentally oriented courses in New Zealand (https://ecoquest.unh.edu/). These are just some of the many opportunities available for MEFB students and we encourage you to explore more.

Pre-health Professional Program

MEFB majors who wish to pursue postgraduate degrees in the health care professions should visit the premed advising website (http://www.unh.edu/premed-advising).

Explore Program Details

Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology (MEFB) Curriculum

Why major in MEFB over other biology-based majors at UNH in DBS or otherwise?

You really can’t go wrong with a major in the Department of Biological Sciences! That said, MEFB faculty span a number of departments and disciplines and designed the major to be 1) rigorous, 2) diverse, and 3) marketable. Meaning, we want to train a cohort of self-selecting, talented students interested in marine, estuarine, and freshwater biology, taking advantage of UNH’s uniquely direct access to these habitats and the organisms that depend upon them. Graduates of MEFB are highly trained and qualified candidates in a diversity of related job and postgraduate markets.

Can I minor in another area of interest? Does it have to be in Biology?

Minoring is encouraged in MEFB. Current students have minored in a wide range of topics, including Zoology, Animal Behavior, Sustainability, Marine Policy, Plant Biology, Economics, Foreign Language, and more. Minors do not need to be situated in the Biology Department. Suitability of Minors should be a conversation between students and the major advisor.

How large are the classes? Do I get one-on-one time with faculty or TA’s?

Class size varies of course. In your Freshman year, there will be a mix of often larger classes in subjects critical to many majors (Intro Biology, for example). But there are moderately sized courses as well on campus. Plus all incoming Freshman take a MEFB-specific seminar limited to your incoming MEFB cohort. That’s a great opportunity to meet MEFB affiliated faculty and graduate students in an open and welcoming informal seminar format.

Are the classes hands-on or field-based? Or are we always in the classroom?

We in the Biology Department pride ourselves on interactive, experiential, hands-on learning. This teaching philosophy translates strongly in MEFB, in both introductory and advanced course opportunities on campus and beyond. Our faculty seek immersive opportunities throughout the school year, rain or shine.

How many students are in MEFB? Is that number growing?

MEFB continues to be a growing major. Increasing awareness of climate-related disruptions, coupled with increased opportunities for related research funding, has coalesced around this major and the disciplines it spans. There are roughly 110 students declared in MEFB presently at UNH and evidence suggests that number will continue to grow as it has for the past 5 years.

I’m not good at ___________ (insert subject or topic). Is MEFB right for me?

UNH and Biology Department recognizes there are all types of students, with all types of strengths and skills. Passion for the subject matter will drive students to success but aptitude is critical in that process, particularly considering the rigor of the MEFB major. We have seen students with widely variable skillsets succeed and encourage all to do the same. Close coordination and communication with your major advisor is paramount to tracking your trajectory and positing yourself to success. We are here to discuss and consult as you make your decisions. We will offer recommendations and guidance as needed.

How many semesters of __________ (insert subject or topic) do I need to graduate?

The degree requirements are straight forward. Like other majors, the degree mandates several requirements and a series of electives to choose from throughout your program. Please note that electives may be selected from departments including, but not limited to Biological Sciences. Many students elect to take electives from other departments within the college: ANFS, NREN and MCBS, as well as at the Shoals Marine Lab, but many other departments and programs offer suitable options for degree elective fulfillment.

Are the course sequences pre-determined or do I have room to explore many topics?

Following a sequential pathway for courses that have pre-requisites is naturally required, for example, and there are some advantages to trend towards following the path most take. These advantages may include having a common peer cohort going through similar experiences and coursework, as well as simplifying the decision-making process. However, not all the courses have to follow a set sequence and there are many pathways to success.

Are there any courses JUST for MEFB students, or some that are considered ‘essential’?

All MEFB-declared Freshman take a MEFB-specific seminar limited to your incoming MEFB cohort. That’s a great opportunity to meet MEFB affiliated faculty and graduate students in an open and welcoming informal seminar format. The MEFB Seminar is a springboard to get to know faculty and learn about their projects, research interests, and opportunities for undergraduate experiences in their labs.

Is there ever a problem getting into classes? Do they fill up fast?

Typically, students tend to get into the classes they want and need. Establishing a graduation plan with your advisor is an important step in this process and of course, registering for classes on time during the pre-determined registration window is essential.

Do I pick my major advisor or is that person assigned to me?

Your major advisor is assigned to you by the Department. If you major in MEFB, your advisor is most likely a faculty member who strongly affiliates and/or teaches courses in that major. There is some flexibility in re-assigning major advisors if desired, but that is uncommon. We’re all here to help you succeed – and some students seek advice from more than one faculty person.

What is a Capstone Experience? Can you provide a few examples of recent MEFB grads?

The Capstone Experience is required during your senior year (or the summer prior). The Capstone explores areas of interest-based on the integration of prior learning with focused skill-building experiences. Capstones may be satisfied through created work or products, various forms of experiential learning (e.g., Honors thesis, mentored research project, internships, study abroad, or other special student activity agreed upon by undergraduate advisor). The Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research is an excellent resource of campus-based research opportunities for MEFB students.

I’m a transfer student. Will my credits transfer over or will I be behind?

Transfer of credits is completed on a case-by-case basis. Every effort is made to account for the valuable work you have completed before transferring to UNH. To assist evaluators in this process, you should be sure to have the course description and syllabus for each course being considered.

MEFB Resources

How many faculty are there in the major? Are they all in DBS?

There are roughly 20 faculty that formally affiliate with MEFB. Eight of us call the Department of Biological Sciences our home, but others span the other three departments within the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, as well as, the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering primarily. This diversity allows our faculty to offer exceptional expertise and learning opportunities for our students that simply could not be found in one department or program!

What opportunities do MEFB students have to work in lab or field positions?

The opportunities are many, and UNH faculty stand out as priding themselves on creating meaningful experiences for students in their research (lab, field or otherwise). Virtually every faculty member has undergraduates participating in their research in the Biology Department.

Positions include paid and unpaid internships, research independent studies, hourly and work-study positions, as well as some volunteer opportunities. The MEFB Seminar (required of all incoming MEFB majors) is a springboard to get to know faculty and learn about their projects and research interests. We encourage all to seek out any and all such opportunities for experience and personal growth.

What are UNH’s marine facility resources (i.e., marine labs, vessels, etc.)?

We boast three Marine Laboratories that provide exceptional opportunities for our student’s research and educational needs, including Jackson Estuarine Laboratory (JEL), the Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex, a.k.a. Coastal Marine Laboratory (CML), and the Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) as well as strong affiliations with the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. While JEL is located on Great Bay in Durham, CML is in nearby Newcastle at the Seacoast, and SML is located six miles off the coast. SML provides summer undergraduate programming with field-based marine courses that fulfill major electives, as well as internships and research opportunities for advanced study.

In addition, UNH’s campus maintains three fish aquaculture facilities, a world-class genomics laboratory (Hubbard Center for Genome Studies), and the State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which provide hands-on opportunities for undergraduates. Finally, we have 2 research vessels as well as numerous small boats to conduct field-based research.

Are there scholarships for MEFB majors once they have matriculated?

Absolutely. We have a number of competitive departmental and university-wide scholarships available for MEFB majors to consider. The Department of Biological Sciences maintains a standing committee of faculty and staff specifically charged to solicit many of these scholarship opportunities. In addition, there are a number of scholarships specifically for MEFB courses offered at Shoals Marine Laboratory in the summer. Again, we are here to help you succeed.

Study Abroad And Distance Learning

Can I study abroad and still finish the MEFB major on schedule?

Absolutely. If you plan to study abroad, you should consult with your major advisor to help plan the most efficient path forward sooner than later. UNH Global is the definitive resource for Study Abroad opportunities for undergraduates We are all here to help you explore and succeed.

What are some study abroad opportunities well-suited to the MEFB major?

In addition to programming through UNH Global, we have a number of Study Abroad programs that are well-suited to MEFB students. Ecoquest, run by the Department of Natural Resources, offers summer and semester programs of environmentally oriented courses in New Zealand. Meanwhile, UNH’s Shoals Marine Laboratory offers shorter-term study-away programs in the summer. These are just some of the many opportunities available for MEFB students and we encourage you to explore more.

How would UNH-MEFB courses run should we need to continue with, or return to, distance learning?

Students in the MEFB program have continued to take courses, including laboratory courses, during the Spring 2020 semester. Faculty and Teaching Assistants have been working overtime to continue to offer as high-quality experience as a student would receive in person. While some things are missing from a virtual experience, there are actually quite a few marine-based modules that can be accessed virtually. We are working hard, together with the UNH administration, to ensure that the trajectories of all undergraduate students are not derailed by the adventures of online learning.

MEFB Culture

Are there existing networks of MEFB students? Or MEFB-related clubs on campus?

Your first MEFB student network is inherently linked to the Freshman Seminar. This required course of first-year MEFB-declared majors gives you weekly exposure to your peers (as well as MEFB-affiliated faculty and graduate students). For many, this becomes an important network. Other Networks form from taking other courses together, especially courses with lots of field and research training, such as our summer offerings at Shoals Marine Laboratory. Many students also find common ground through campus-based clubs like the UNH subunit of the American Fisheries Society or the Aquaculture Club. There are many pathways that exist, and we encourage you to join us and develop new ways to connect!

How can I get more information re: the experience/opinions of current MEFB students?

One great way to get to know current MEFB students is to attend our upcoming ASVD Virtual Conference – April 16, 2020, 2-3 pm EST and April 17, 2020, 3-4 pm EST. MEFB students will be online and ready to share their experiences and answer your questions.

My Future

What do the graduates of MEFB go on to do? Are they finding jobs in their field?

The timing is great for MEFB grads to join the workforce or continue on to graduate studies or paid internships. Our grads work in many fields across diverse disciplines, with employers such as local state and federal agencies, NGO’s, aquaria, research think-tanks, environmental consulting, and graduate schools, among many more.

The Capstone must be taken during the senior year or after 90 credits have been taken.

Capstone Designation Form

take the next step

Undergraduate Student

LEARN HOW TO APPLY

A view of T-Hall on the UNH campus.

SCHEDULE A VISIT

A female student at UNH gets help on her resume

REQUEST INFORMATION