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General Information


Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology

Hawaii Natural Energy Institute

Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory

International Pacific Research Center

Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research

Pacific Mapping Program

Sea Grant College Program

Hawaii Space Grant Consortium




Marine Science 205
1000 Pope Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7633
Fax: (808) 956-9225
E-mail: ocean@soest.hawaii.edu
Web: www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography


*Graduate Faculty

*L. Magaard, PhD (Chair) DSC—geological and geophysical oceanography, submarine volcanism, hydrothermal, geothermal and mineral formation processes
*M. J. Atkinson, PhD—coral reef biogeochemistry, solid-state sensor technology
*R. Bidigare, PhD—bio-optical oceanography, pigment biochemistry, biogeochemical cycling
*A. D. Clarke, PhD—marine aerosols, biogeochemical cycles, precipitation chemistry
*J. P. Cowen, PhD—deep-sea hydrothermal vent biogeochemistry, microbial geochemistry, particle aggregation
*E. H. DeCarlo, PhD—geochemistry of marine mineral deposits, fundamental chemistry of scavenging processes at the aqueous particle interface, hydrothermal processes
*J. Drazen, PhD—physiological ecology of deep-sea fishes, energetic strategies and trophodynamics
*E. Firing, PhD—equatorial circulation, ocean currents and current profiling methods
*P. J. Flament, PhD—dynamics of the surface layer, mesoscale structures, remote sensing
*R. Grigg, PhD—coral reef ecology, paleoecology, fisheries management
*E. J. Hochberg, PhD—coral reef ecology, remote sensing, and bio-optics
*B. J. Huebert, PhD—atmospheric chemistry
Z. Johnson, PhD—phytoplankton photosynthesis and microbial phototrophy, microbial population structure and diversity with attention to ecosystem functioning, microbial genome structure and comparative genomes
*D. M. Karl, PhD—microbiological oceanography, oceanic productivity, biogeochemical fluxes
*Y. H. Li, PhD—marine geochemistry, marine pollution studies
*R. Lukas, PhD—equatorial circulation, air-sea interaction and climate
*D. S. Luther, PhD—observational physical oceanography
*F. Mackenzie, PhD—geochemistry, sedimentology, greenhouse effect, biogeochemical cycles and global environmental change
*A. Malahoff, PhD, DSc—geological and geophysical oceanography, submarine volcanism, hydrothermal, geothermal, and mineral formation processes
*J. P. McCreary, Jr., PhD—equatorial dynamics, coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models, ecosystem modeling
*M. McManus PhD—descriptive physical oceanography, coupled physical-biological numerical models, development of ocean observing systems
*G. McMurtry, PhD—marine sediment geochemistry, marine mineral formation and resources, submarine hydrothermal processes, radiochemistry
*C. Measures, PhD—trace element geochemistry, elemental mass balance, geochemical effects of dust deposition
*M. A. Merrifield, PhD—coastal and near-shore processes, internal waves and mixing
*M. J. Mottl, PhD—submarine hydrothermal processes, geochemical cycles, sea-water–sea-floor chemical interaction
*P. Muller, DrRerNat—theoretical physical oceanography, analysis and interpretation of geophysical data
*B. Qiu, PhD—numerical modeling
M. Rappe, PhD—marine microbial ecology, coral-microbe systems, bacterial genomics
K. Richards, PhD—observations and modeling of ocean processes, ocean dynamics, ocean atmosphere interaction, ecosystem dynamics
*K. Ruttenberg, PhD—sedimentary and water column geochemistry, organic geochemistry approaches
*F. J. Sansone, PhD—gas geochemistry, reef and sediment diagenesis, hydrothermal geochemistry and lava-seawater interactions
*N. Schneider, PhD—role of ocean in climate, decadal climate variability
*J. E. Schoonmaker, PhD—sedimentary geochemistry and diagenesis, sedimentation and diagenesis at accretionary plate margins
*K. Selph, PhD—phagotrophic protist ecology, applications of flow cytometry to ecological research
*C. R. Smith, PhD—benthic biological oceanography, bioturbation, deep-sea carbon flux
*G. Steward, PhD—marine bacteria and viruses, microbial genomics, molecular ecology and biogeochemical cycles
*A. Timmermann, PhD—plaeoceanography, climate change, ENSO dynamics
G. Wang, PhD—marine microbial diversity, ecology and biotechnology; biosensing and application in coral reef ecosystems
*R E. Zeebe, PhD—global biogeochemical cycles, carbon dioxide system in seawater and interrelations with marine plankton, paleoceanography, stable isotope geochemistry

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

W. L. Au, PhD—marine bioacoustics and echolocation
J. M. Becker, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, coastal processes, general ocean circulation
K. A. W. Crook, PhD—sedimentology, tectonics, geoscience policy
W. Dudley, PhD—marine geology
E. Gaidos, PhD—sedimentology, tectonics, geoscience policy
R. Gates, PhD—coral reef biology
R. C. Kloosterziel, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics
G. Pawlak, PhD—coastal and estuarine mixing processes, stratified flows, sediment transport and laboratory experimental methods
B. Popp, PhD—isotope biogeochemistry
J. R. Sibert, PhD—population dynamics, fisheries, modeling
R. Toonen, PhD—larval ecology; coral reef biology; evolution, phylogeography and conservation genetics of marine invertebrates
J. C. Wiltshire, PhD—geology and geochemistry of marine mineral deposits, marine mining and processing, minerals policy issues, research-submersible technology

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

P. Falkowski, PhD—University of Rhode Island, pytoplankton evolution and ecology, photosynthesis, coral biology, and biogeochemical cycles
M. Landry, PhD—zooplankton ecology, population dynamics, marine ecosystem modeling
D. W. Moore, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, equatorial oceanography
P. M. Poulain, PM—mesoscale dynamics, Lagrangian measurements, remote sensing

Degrees Offered: MS in oceanography, PhD in oceanography

The Academic Program

Oceanography (OCN) is the study of the physics, chemistry, and geology of the ocean and the ecology of organisms that live within the sea. Physical oceanography is concerned with ocean circulation, waves, tides, upwelling, air-sea interactions, and the effect of the oceans on climate. Chemical oceanographers study the distribution of dissolved substances in the ocean and the mechanisms, both natural and anthropogenic, that control their form and abundance. Geological oceanography includes the study of sea-floor spreading, submarine vulcanism, beach formation, deep-seabed mineral resources, sediments, and paleoceanography. Biological oceanographers study the interactions of marine organisms with one another and the environment. Topics include coral reef ecology, marine fisheries, hydrothermal-vent communities, plankton ecology, and near-shore and deep-sea benthic communities.

Because Hawai‘i is located near the middle of the largest ocean on Earth, oceanography has a special significance for the state and the UH. At UH Manoa, the oceanography facilities are among the best in the U.S. and include three ocean-going research vessels and two research submarines. Biological studies are facilitated by the presence of the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology on Coconut Island in Kane‘ohe Bay. Computing facilities are based on a growing network of nearly 300 Sun workstations, Macintosh, and personal computers. Precision instruments include mass spectrometers, gas and liquid chromatographs, liquid scintillation counters, a CHN analyzer, a flow cytometer, and a series of atomic spectroscopy-based instruments. The world-class faculty is actively involved in both teaching and research. UH ranks fifth among universities in the nation in terms of National Science Foundation research funding for oceanographic research. The location, the facilities, and the faculty all make UH an ideal place to study oceanography.

About 40 percent of marine scientists are employed by the U.S. government, especially by the defense, commerce, and interior departments. Another 40 percent teach and do research at academic institutions. About 20 percent are employed by industry.

The MS and PhD in oceanography are recognized WICHE regional graduate programs. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible, upon admission, to enroll at Hawai‘i-resident tuition rates.


Each student admitted to the oceanography department is assigned an advisory committee by the department chair. The committee initially consists of three graduate faculty members from at least two of the subdisciplines of oceanography. When formed, the student’s MS or PhD committee becomes the student’s advisory committee. A student must meet with his or her advisory committee at least twice per year. A written report summarizing each meeting must be signed by the student and his or her committee and a copy placed in the student’s file.

Graduate Study

The department offers master’s and doctoral programs with areas of specializations in biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography.

Oceanography courses listed in this Catalog may be taken for credit in the degree program. Additional courses may be selected from the fields of botany, chemistry, engineering, geology, mathematics, meteorology, physics, and zoology.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have intensive, rigorous training in one of the basic sciences or engineering. Regardless of major, an applicant must have completed mathematical training, including calculus through first-order ordinary differential equations (equivalent to Calculus IV at the UH). An applicant must also have a year each of physics and chemistry. The well-prepared student will also have covered classical thermodynamics and applied differential equations and will have had a semester each of biology and geology. GRE test scores (General Test only) are required. Interested students should write to the department chair for a brochure and further information. For U.S. applicants, the deadline for application for admission is February 1 for the fall semester and September 1 for the spring semester. For foreign applicants, the corresponding deadlines are January 15 and August 1.

Major Requirements

All students pursuing a degree program must take OCN 620, 622, and 623. For non-biological students, the sequence is completed by taking OCN 621. Biological students complete the sequence by taking OCN 626, 627, and 628. Marine Geology and Geochemistry students must take CHEM 351 (if they have not already successfully completed a college-level course in physical chemistry). Students may be admitted to the MS program upon successful completion of the appropriate sequence. To be admitted to the PhD program, a student must receive a positive recommendation from a PhD-qualifying committee.

Degree Requirements

Both the MS and PhD programs require a minimum of 36 credit hours, including 24 credit hours of course work and 12 credit hours of thesis or dissertation research. The 24 semester hours of course work must be in courses numbered 600 or above (excluding OCN 699 and 700 and seminar courses). At least 12 of those semester hours must consist of courses taken from three of the following groups: biological oceanography, geological oceanography, chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, mathematical methods and statistics, and meteorology.

Prior to completion of their graduate degree, Biological Oceanography students must have satisfactorily completed either an undergraduate or graduate course in statistics. Students specializing in Marine Geology and Geochemistry must take at least one, and preferably more, advanced biogeochemistry course. All students must complete a seminar requirement, demonstrate computer competency, and accumulate at least 30 days of field experience. PhD candidates must also pass a comprehensive examination. All students must pass a final oral examination in defense of their thesis/dissertation.

OCN Courses