Biology & Marine Biology

We are the Biology and Marine Biology Department. Hands on education and research in a coastal setting. Immerse yourself!
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Dr. Steve Emslie's Lab works with Penguins in Antarctica
Marine Botany Students Sample in Florida Bay
Dr. Michael Tift Works with Northern Elephant Seals


The Department of Biology and Marine Biology is committed to equitable treatment for all and believes Black Lives Matter.  We maintain that the adversity and anguish created by discrimination and racism are intolerable in our community.  We embrace our students regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, and veteran status.  We welcome the unique contributions of all individuals to our classrooms and believe the collection of diverse perspectives enriches everyone’s educational experience.  

Our department strives to recognize the aptitudes and foster the achievements of all our students and colleagues with the goal of creating equal access to knowledge.  Our aim is to develop our students not only into effective scientists but, importantly, critically thinking citizens who will advance change and promote acceptance in our discipline and society. We commit to working towards eliminating inequality in science and join the call for justice. 

To all of you we say, you belong here.


Above, you have heard from our faculty about who the department is, what we believe in, and the values that we will expect and uphold.  We affirm the Seahawk Respect Compact, actively fostering, encouraging, and promoting inclusiveness, mutual respect, acceptance, and open-mindedness among students, faculty, staff and the broader community. Most importantly, we are committed to an environment of respect for all individuals in our department community:  students, staff, and faculty.

I stand with them, and with all of you.

I also want you to know that we stand behind our words:  we are taking action to make change.  These plans are evolving but will include self-reflection and accounting at the department level, training and workshops, and the creation of a committee of members of the department community to help move us forward with our charge to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equity.  But the first step is to hear from you.  I am going to host a Town Hall style forum at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, in which we can share and discuss ideas so that all of us can shape the future of our department.

We believe in you, and we are here for you.

Greetings from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Biology and Marine Biology!

We are a dynamic and engaged department with a rich and diverse array of research programs. Whether it's using cutting edge technology to decode the molecular basis of cell function, SCUBA diving to measure the impact of global climate change on coastal habitats, or building virtual ecosystems to uncover hidden connections, students and faculty in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology are engaged in scientific inquiry across the range of the life sciences.

I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a UNCW-led research cruise to the Arctic in May of 2019 (here I am with Sammy Seahawk on the ice ). Koopman_Sammy.jpg This was an interdisciplinary project, aimed at linking changes in oceanographic conditions to the increase in rate of sea ice melt, and concurrent shifts in the phytoplankton, zooplankton and higher predators that all rely on the presence of Arctic ice. This trip really emphasized to me the need for a better understanding of our changing world, and how its inhabitants (from microbes to algae to whales) will be affected. It was also a good lesson in the importance of collaboration across disciplines for researching and solving these problems. This is the kind of research you can become involved in as a major in our department, examining many aspects of global change and conservation, including emerging diseases, invasive species, population monitoring, physiological and molecular adaptation, habitat quality, and coastal resilience.

Students in our department pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in both biology (BA, BS, MS) and marine biology (BS, MS, PhD) that emphasize hands-on involvement in research and take advantage of our coastal setting and first-class facilities, including the Center for Marine Science. When you graduate as a major from our department, you will have all the skill sets and training that you will need for the next step in your life: a job in your field, or attendance at a graduate or professional school.

Our faculty are dedicated scholars engaged in classroom teaching and student mentorship, high caliber research, and service to the university and broader community. If you are new to our department, please take a few moments to explore this site to learn about the department and our programs; and be sure to check this page often for new happenings and information. Finally, we'd love to hear from you, so please contact us with any questions or suggestions.

Heather N. Koopman
 Professor and Chair