Marine Science

Marine Science

Applicants to our master’s programs in marine sciences are expected to have completed their B.S. programs before entering the M.S. program. An M.S. Degree is expected of applicants to the Ph.D. program. Students may apply before their previous degree has been earned but must complete this work before entering the program.


Biological Oceanography

Students in the biological area are supervised by the biological core faculty in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and by faculty members, housed in other departments, who have marine interests. Interdepartmental cooperation makes available a considerable breadth of expertise to students of biological oceanography.

In addition to our laboratories on campus, students have access to several other marine sciences facilities, including the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina; the UNC Institute of Marine Science at Morehead City and the N.C. Marine Resource Centers in Dare, Carteret and New Hanover counties.

Small boats are available through several of these facilities; time on larger vessels is available through the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort. Staff members have also been involved in cooperative studies using the facilities at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Md., on Chesapeake Bay.

Specialized equipment available for biological research includes an automated motion analyzer, temperature/light control incubators, electrophoresis apparatus, video equipment, fluorescence microscope, digitizer and electronics for radio-and ultrasonic tracking and telemetry, gas and liquid chromatographs, CHNS analyzer, stable isotope mass spectrometers, campus E.M. center, and nutrient autoanalyzers.

Chemical Oceanography

Graduate studies in chemical oceanography provide students a fundamental understanding of inorganic and organic chemical processes occurring in estuarine, coastal and deep-sea environments. Topics discussed in the various marine chemistry courses include biogeochemistry, diagenesis, chemical sedimentology, the use of stable isotope and radiochemical tracers in the marine environment, as well as chemical transport across the air-sea and sediment-water interfaces. The department has access to a coastal laboratory in addition to the chemical and radiochemical laboratories on main campus. Interactions with other oceanographic disciplines enable students to receive a diverse education in the marine sciences.

Geological Oceanography

Graduate education at North Carolina State University provides an excellent opportunity for students interested in geological oceanography. Faculty members have active research interests in many areas of the world ocean, as well as in North Carolina coastal waters. Ongoing projects provide students with extensive experience in shipboard and field aspects of research, and land-based laboratories provide facilities for analysis of samples and data. Coursework covers the relevant aspects of geological oceanography–including sedimentology, geochemistry, geophysics, paleoceanography, sea-level, and climate change. Faculty members in adjacent fields are anxious to interact with geological research, and help to provide a well-rounded educational program.

Physical Oceanography and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

The goals of the physical oceanographer and geophysical fluid dynamicist are to obtain a systematic description and understanding of the character and motion of the ocean waters. This includes the chemical and physical properties of seawater, as well as the fundamental physical dynamical concepts essential to an understanding of the oceans. A fully integrated approach of field observations, laboratory studies and theoretical modeling are needed to gain knowledge of the motion of the oceans.

Currently, five faculty members are conducting research in physical oceanography and geophysical fluid dynamics. Their interests include field-oriented research and theoretical studies of large-scale ocean circulation, and coastal and estuarine dynamics.

Facilities for coastal and continental shelf research, as well as for activities in such areas as the equatorial Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Indian Ocean, are available through the state of North Carolina, the federal government and cooperative efforts with other oceanographic institutions worldwide. Oceanographic cruises in which students participate and gain valuable field experience occur on a regular basis, going  to areas ranging from the coast of North Carolina to the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic and Arctic.

A Quorum Communications Satellite HPRT Receive Stations and University of Miami DSP Imaging Processing Software are utilized to obtain real-time visible, infrared and ocean color imagery for the western North Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Nova Scotia. Computational facilities include a departmentally operated DEC Micro-VAX 3500 (VMS) and IBM R/S6000-530 (UNIX) computers and associated terminals, workstations, and personal computers (IBM and Macintosh) and laser printers.

In addition, the department operates the “Facility for Oceanographic and Atmospheric Modeling and Visualization (FOAMv) which includes a 16-processor IBM Power Visualization Server (a visualization supercomputer), IBM Visualization workstations, a cluster of workstations for parallel computer modeling and 12 workstations configured in a research/teaching environment for student use.