CSU Marine Biology Catalina Semester

Marine Biology Semester
Santa Catalina Island
FALL 2017
28 August 2017 – 15 December 2017
(Thanksgiving Break November 20th – 26th )

We are no longer accepting applications, but look out for the posting of the Fall 2018 application!


This semester-long program provides an intensive undergraduate exposure to marine biology, and is designed for students with a serious commitment to environmental and marine science. The 15 week program is based at the Wrigley Marine Science Center (WMSC), situated on Santa Catalina Island, 26 miles from Los Angeles, CA. This location provides access to beautiful, pristine marine habitats, diverse marine life and breathtaking island views. WMSC is owned and operated by the University of Southern California (USC), and the program is being offered through the California State Universities, affiliated with the Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) and the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI).

Throughout the semester, students are introduced to a sequence of courses (Fall 2017: Marine Phycology, Marine Ichthyology, and Aquatic Toxicology) that prepare them to complete a directed research study in a topic of their choice. All courses provide a strong element of hands-on field experience, which provides the comprehensive training that can help in career choices and graduate decisions. Before the semester begins, a two-week AAUS SCUBA certification course is available at an additional cost for qualified students who wish to dive on SCUBA during the semester. However, only snorkeling skills are required for class participation. Please note: these courses will occupy daytime and in many cases, evening hours, including some weekends.

CSU Marine Biology Catalina Semester Fall 2017 Brochure

Application Materials

  • Completed Catalina Semester Application, available here
  • College or university transcripts
  • Letter of recommendation from faculty member
  • $50 application fee payable to USC/SCMI. This fee is non-refundable.

Qualified students are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The CSU Marine Biology Semester is an Upper division program that is designed for students who have completed their lower division coursework in Biology. For Fall 2017, after screening by the OSI faculty, registration will be through California State University Long Beach (CSULB). CSULB students will register directly through that campus. Other CSU students will need to fill out the Intrasystem Visitor Enrollment form, which will enable registration through CSULB. Units may then be transferred to the appropriate campus. Non-CSU students will need to register through CSULB’s Open University Program.

Application and additional information can be obtained by contacting:

Erin Crowley
CSU Marine Biology Semester at Catalina
Ocean Studies Institute
820 S. Seaside Ave
Terminal Island, CA 90731-7330

Projected Costs*


All Costs for Fall 17′ are subject to change. CSU Students who are non-CA residents are subject to CSU Out-of-State tuition fees. Two round-trip passages to the island are included (at the start and end of the semester, and over Thanksgiving). There will be additional costs for books, dissecting equipment, library privileges and personal field equipment.



CSULB Courses: Fall 2017
(Upper Division)

Marine Phycology
(OSI 425/525: 4 units)

28 August – 15 September

This course covers the taxonomy, morphology, physiology, and ecology of the major algal groups.

Instructor:  Dr. Jayson Smith

Marine Ichthyology
(OSI 419/519: 4 units)

18 September – 13 October

This course provides a classical overview of marine fishes. Emphasis on ecological concepts and the use of field and laboratory techniques to assess the behavior, ecology, and population dynamics of marine fishes.

Instructors: Dr. Chris Lowe

Aquatic Toxicology
(OSI 490/590: 4 units)

16 October – 10 November

Study of pollution-based impacts on aquatic ecosystems with special emphasis on marine environments. The course will cover topics and develop skills used in the study of pollutant sources, environmental fate and toxic impacts at different levels of biological organization.

Instructor: Dr. Erika Holland

Directed Undergraduate Research
(OSI 496/697: 3 units)

13 November – 14 December

Students develop their ideas during the first 12 weeks of the semester, prepare a research proposal, complete their studies, and present their findings in a mini-symposium and a report.

Instructors: Dr. Chris Lowe, Dr. Jayson Smith, and Dr. Erika Holland


Instructors – Fall 2017

Dr. Chris Lowe (Marine Ichthyology) Dr. Lowe is a Professor in the Dept. of Biological Sciences at CSULB. He is a marine ichthyologist and specializes in behavioral and physiological ecology of elasmobranchs and gamefishes.


Dr. Jayson Smith (Marine Phycology) Dr. Smith is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Biological Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona. He is a marine conservation ecologist with particular interest in anthropogenic disturbances on ecosystem functioning and community structure of coastal habitats.



Dr. Erika Holland (Aquatic Toxicology) Dr. Holland is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Biological Sciences at CSULB. She is an aquatic toxicologist with an interest in connecting molecular, physiological and organismal signs of toxicity to understand pollutant based impacts on aquatic organisms.