One of Canada’s only Marine Biology programs

Unique opportunities make the difference for marine biology students

At the University of New Brunswick , the ocean is your classroom and the world is your oyster.

As one of Canada’s only marine biology programs, UNB goes the extra mile to provide a unique experience for students.

Whether it’s offering opportunities to study abroad, or participating in a semester at a marine biology research centre, the program is chock full of choices.

“There are opportunities in marine biology outside of the normal courses on campus,” said Dr. Heather Hunt, professor and acting chair of the department of biological sciences at UNB (Saint John).

“We have a marine semester program which I think is one of the really cool things about our program. We have a tropical marine biology course in the Bahamas. Some of our marine biology students study abroad in Australia or the Caribbean. There are a lot of options.”

Marine semester offers hands-on study experience

Students have the option to participate in the marine semester, an intensive 12-weeks of hands-on learning at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews.

“There’s a similar marine program on the west coast, but on the east coast none of the other marine biology programs have something like this. I think it’s a really great hands-on opportunity,” Hunt said.

The unique semester exposes students to a diversity of marine organisms, including whales, seals, seabirds, algae, fish and invertebrates.

In their first two years, students take a few specialized courses – but starting in their third year, they primarily stick to marine biology courses.

“It is a pretty flexible program. There’s quite a bit of choice in terms of which courses they can take in third and fourth year. We have a variety of courses on campus that rotate year to year, and we have courses on a whole range of different topics,” Hunt said.

Smaller class sizes and more research opportunities

The smaller size of the UNBSJ campus creates a more intimate atmosphere than at other universities, which in turn allows students and professors more time to interact. That means students can get involved in research opportunities much earlier.

This was a big draw for Adam Downie when he was selecting a university. Downie, originally from Ontario, wanted to study marine biology and ultimately move to Australia.

Because of UNBSJ, both of those things happened.

“I feel like due to the small class sizes it’s definitely helped with everything in my life,” he said. “I ended up getting a summer student position my first year with Heather. That really set forward a lot of things I was able to accomplish at UNBSJ.”

Downie participated in the marine semester and had the opportunity to study abroad at James Cook University in Australia, both of which were university highlights for him. He’s now living in Australia pursuing graduate studies and working in a laboratory on reef fish physiology.

But he said none of that would have happened without the “life-changing” opportunities at UNBSJ.

“It’s been a really positive experience. There was always something different going on, whether it was summers working with different people or even just the classes,” he said.

Pitch your #OnlyHere story to the Communications Office