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.
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.
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.
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.