Student Research

Research with faculty

As leaders in marine science education, Marine Science faculty and their students carry out cutting-edge research in coastal oceanography using cross-disciplinary approaches, spanning the core disciplines of biology, chemistry, geology and physics. Faculty collaborate with students on research projects, and in many cases, this work leads to publications in books and peer-reviewed journals as well as research presentations at national and regional conferences that are jointly authored by students and faculty.

Student research opportunities range from coastal geology, marine genetics, estuarine ecology to marine chemistry. The Marine Science First-Year Research Program offers unprecedented opportunities for qualified first-year students to work closely with a faculty mentor on various research projects.

Deepwater Horizon

Since 2013 several summer research participants assessed the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and dispersants on continental slope sediments and benthic communities in the northeast Gulf of Mexico that are critical to nearby fisheries and marine protected areas.

Dolphin social and population structure

For more than 20 years, Eckerd students have studied the social and population structure of common bottlenose dolphins in Tampa Bay by using photo-identification and acoustic techniques as part of the Eckerd College Dolphin Project.

Dolphins swimming. Photo taken under the authority of NMFS LOC No. 15512.o.

Calf and mother interact. Photo taken under the authority of NMFS LOC No. 15512.o.

Shark population structure

Several students have used molecular techniques to investigate the population structure of Gulf of Mexico pipefish and bonnethead sharks. Dr. Szelistowski takes students to Bimini Biological Field Station for hands-on shark and ray research every year. View photos of Eckerd students at the Shark Lab.

Students underwater with Caribbean reef shark

Students with Caribbean reef shark during spring break 2016.
Photo: Charlotte Sams/Bimini Sharklab

Natural Sciences Summer Research Program

The Eckerd College Natural Sciences Summer Research Program, originally developed with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, continues to be generously funded by the College. This program provides modest funds to support faculty and students engaged in collaborative scientific research. Funds may be used to support students, and to purchase research supplies and small pieces of equipment.

Proposals are submitted by Natural Sciences Collegium faculty and are reviewed by the Undergraduate Research Committee.

Senior thesis

Juniors or seniors who demonstrated superior competence in their academic performance can design and implement, with faculty supervision, a senior thesis that involves research on a topic of their interest. The thesis project culminates in a written and bounded thesis, a public seminar, and defense, which are evaluated by three committee members, two of which must be on the EckerdC ollege faculty. Some students publish the results of their senior thesis in scientific journals and/or present their results at professional conferences even before graduating.

Students interested in pursing a senior thesis are strongly advised to contact a member of the marine science faculty during their junior year to discuss the possibility of conducting research with that faculty member.

Student Research Symposium

All Eckerd College students are invited to participate in a symposium highlighting student research. Current students from all academic areas are welcome to participate by giving either a poster or oral presentation describing their work.

All submissions consist of significant original research performed by a student or group of students. All first authors must be current Eckerd College students. Abstracts are due in February and the Symposium is held in March each year.

Awards for the Symposium have been made possible through SunTrust/ASPEC/Faculty Learning Grants and the Eckerd College chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

Tampa Bay regional research opportunities

Given the close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and subtropical climate, the Tampa Bay region has a high concentration of marine research and academic institutions.

Because of many local connections in the Tampa Bay area, a large number of opportunities are available to our students through government and private marine agencies and laboratories, public aquaria, marine conservation institutions, environmental consulting firms, and commercial aquaculture firms. Many of our graduates have obtained positions with a wide range of organizations, often through contacts made while as a student intern.

The research opportunities are greatly expanded by four major oceanographic research facilities located in St. Petersburg.

These institutions provide research internships to Eckerd students, who are also welcome to use their libraries and attend their seminars.