skip to Main Content
Home About UH Academic Calendar Courses Undergraduate Education Graduate Education Degrees, Minors, & Certificates Colleges, Schools, & Academic Units


General Information


Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology

Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute

Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium

Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory

International Pacific Research Center

Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research

Pacific Biosciences Research Center

Sea Grant College Program




Marine Science 205
1000 Pope Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7633
Fax: (808) 956-9225


*Graduate Faculty

*N. Schneider, PhD (Chair)—decadal climate variability, tropical air-sea interaction, coupled modeling
*M. Guidry, PhD (Global Environmental Sciences Chair)—biogeochemical modeling, mineral precipitation/dissolution kinetics, K-12/university curriculum development, undergraduate research, and academic program management
*R. Alegado, PhD—marine microbial ecology, influence of bacteria on animal evolution
*H. Annamali, PhD—diagnostic and modeling aspects of the Asian Summer Monsoon system, prediction and predictability of the Asian Summer Monsoon system, dynamical and physical link between Monsoon-ENSO
*G. S. Carter, PhD—physical oceanography, ocean mixing, tides, internal waves
*E. H. De Carlo, PhD—aquatic chemistry, metals and their anthropogenic inputs, transformations, fate and transport, sedimentary geochemistry, marine minerals
*E. F. DeLong, PhD—application of contemporary genomic technologies to understand the ecology, evolution and biochemistry of complete microbial assemblages
*J. Drazen, PhD—physiological ecology of marine fishes, energetics and tropodynamics, deep-sea biology, adaptions of fishes to the deep-sea
*K. F. Edwards, PhD—ecology of phytoplankton and other marine organisms; population and community ecology; theoretical ecology
*E. Firing, PhD—ocean circulation and currents on all scales, with emphasis on observation and dynamics
*P. J. Flament, PhD—dynamics of the surface layer, mesoscale structures, remote sensing
*B. T. Glazer, PhD—biogeochemical processes in marine environments; use of molecular methods to characterize and understand synergy of geomicrobiology
*E. Goetze, PhD—marine zooplankton ecology; dispersal and gene flow in marine plankton populations; evolution, behavioral ecology and systematics of marine calanoid copepods
*D. T. Ho, PhD—air-water gas exchange, tracer oceanography, carbon cycle, and environmental geochemistry
*S. Howell, PhD— environmental aerosol research, aerosol chemistry
*A. Jani, PhD—ecology of microbial symbioses of marine and freshwater animals; assembly and regulation of microbial communities; ecology of infectious diseases
*D. M. Karl, PhD—microbiological oceanography, oceanic productivity, biogeochemical fluxes
*C. Kelley, PhD—deepwater habitats, ecology and fisheries, seafloor mapping and GIS
*R. C. Kloosterziel, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, hydrodynamic, hydromagnetic stability, wave dynamics
*D. S. Luther, PhD—tide dynamics and energy flow, mixing in the abyssal ocean, circulation and energy fluxes in the North Atlantic
*M. McManus, PhD—descriptive physical oceanography, coupled physical-biological numerical models; development of ocean observing systems
*G. McMurtry, PhD—geochemistry, geology, geophysics
*C. Measures, PhD—trace element geochemistry, shipboard analytical methods, atmospheric deposition to the oceans, elemental mass balances
*M. A. Merrifield, PhD—physical oceanography, coastal circulation, sea level variability, current flows and mixing in the vicinity of coral reefs, island and seamounts
*M. J. Mottl, PhD—hydrothermal processes, geochemical cycles
*C. E. Nelson, PhD—structure and function of natural bacterial communities in aquatic habitats such as coral reefs lakes, streams, and open ocean
*A. Neuheimer, PhD—quantitative ecology of fish and aquatic invertebrate populations, with applications to evolutionary biology, physiology, ecosystem dynamics, resource management, and climate issues
*B. S. Powell, PhD—numerical modeling, variational data assimilation, ocean predictability, ocean dynamical modes, and ocean ecosystem dynamics
*B. Qiu, PhD—large-scale ocean circulation, ocean atmosphere internation, satellite observations, and numerical modeling of ocean circulation
*K. Richards, PhD—observations and modeling of ocean processes, ocean dynamics, ocean atmosphere interaction, ecosystem dynamics
*O. Rouxel, PhD— co-evolution of life and Earth, sources and biogeochemical cycling of metals in the ocean, weathering processes, seafloor hydrothermal systems, marine mineral deposits, nontraditional stable isotope geochemistry
*K. Ruttenberg, PhD—biogeochemistry of phosphorus and associated bioactive elements in freshwater and marine aqueous and sedimentary systems, sediment diagenesis, organic matter reactivity and mineral authigenesis, effect of redox chemistry on element cycling, global biogeochemical cycles
*F. J. Sansone, PhD—trace-gas geochemistry, hydrothermal geochemistry, suboxic/anoxic diagenesis in sediments, lava-seawater interaction
*K. Selph, PhD—biological oceanography, microbial ecology, protistan grazer feeding dynamics, phytoplankton distributions, use of flow cytometry in ecological research
*C. R. Smith, PhD—benthic ecology, deep-sea biology, sediment biogeochemistry, climate-change effects on Antarctic ecosystems, marine conservation
*G. F. Steward, PhD—aquatic microbial ecology, molecular ecology and diversity of viruses and bacteria
*A. Timmermann, PhD—ENSO dynamics, abrupt climate change, dynamics of thermohaline circulation, decadal climate predictability, dynamical systems’ theory, glacial dynamic, reconstructing climate change in Hawai‘i
*R. E. Zeebe, PhD—global biogeochemical cycles, carbon dioxide system in seawater and interrelations with marine plankton, paleoceanography, stable isotope geochemistry

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

J. M. Becker, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, coastal processes, general ocean circulation, waves and stability
B. C. Bruno, PhD—planetary geosciences, geoscience education
M. Cooney, PhD—high rate anaerobic digestion, bio-oil extraction from biomass, and the analytical characterization of chemical microenvironments surrounding immobilized enzymes
K. Frank—identifying environmental drivers of microbial dynamics and to characterize the impact of the microorganisms on biogeochemical cycling in mineral-hosted ecosystems from mountain ridge to mid-ocean ridges
E. Gaidos, PhD—molecular evolution; microbiology of extreme environments; biosphere-climate feedbacks; critical intervals in Earth history; exobiology; biological networks
R. D. Gates, PhD—regulation and de-stabilization of coral/dinoflagellate symbioses, evolution and development of animal sensory systems
P. H. Lenz, PhD—sensory capabilities underlie the behavior of any organism
B. Popp, PhD—stable isotope biogeochemistry, marine organic geochemistry, isotopic biogeochemistry of individual biomarkers and gases
J. Potemra, PhD—general ocean circulation and its relationship to climate; processes in the western equatorial Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean and their connection
M. Rappe, PhD—ecology of marine microorganisms; genomics; coral-associated microorganisms; ecology of microorganisms in the deep subsurface
F. Thomas, PhD—coral reef and coastal ecology, reproductive biology, hydrodynamics and biomechanics
R. Toonen, PhD—dispersal and recruitment of invertebrate larvae, population genetics, evolution and ecology 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

A. Andrews, PhD—fishes from all marine environments, geochemical techniques to validate age growth
F. Ascani, PhD—ocean dynamics, marine ecosystem dynamics, climate, nonlinear science
J. Aucan—waves, tides and sea-level, observations of interactions between physical and biological processes in the surface ocean
R. Brainard, PhD—tropical reef-ecosystem integration, with a particular emphasis on the role of ocean variability on ecosystem health
P. Falkowski, PhD—phytoplankton evolution and ecology, photosynthesis, coral biology, and biogeochemical cycles
W. Grossman, PhD—environmental research, systems sciences, information society and innovation, higher education
M. Hatta, PhD—trace elements, biogeochemical cycling of trace elements and dust deposition
C. M. Jones, PhD—stable isotopes, microbial N and C Cycling
D. W. Moore, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, equatorial oceanography
E. Laws
T. Oliver, PhD—coral reef evolutionary ecologist; uses spatial and genomic tools to document ecological responses to environmental change, especially warming and acidification
J. Polovina, PhD—research in biological oceanography in the Central and Western Pacific with focus on population dynamics of high trophic animals
J. Ruzicka, PhD—biochemistry, environmental: agricultural assays, biotechnology, oceanography, clinical chemistry
J. R. Sibert
K. Weng, PhD—behavior migration and habitat use of sharks and fishes, oceanography of key habitats of pelagic nekton, fishery management and conservation

Emeriti Graduate Faculty

*P. Bienfang, PhD—phytoplankton ecology, ciguatera, aquatic pollution, aquaculture
A. Clarke, PhD—physical and chemical properties of aerosol in remote troposphere, aircraft studies of aerosol in free troposphere
B. J. Huebert, PhD—air pollution, climate change, atmospheric aerosols, global elemental cycles, air-sea gas exchange
Y. H. Li, PhD—geochemical cycles from solar nebula to human brain
R. Lukas, PhD—physical oceanography, interannual and decadal climate variability
L. Magaard, Dr. rer. nat.—ocean waves, oceanic turbulence, oceanography of Hawaiian waters, climate and society
F. T. Mackenzie—geochemistry, biogeochemical cycling, global environmental change
A. Malahoff, PhD, DSc— geological and geophysical oceanography, submarine \hydrothermal system, mineral formation processes, underwater volcanism
*J. P. McCreary, Jr., PhD—equatorial ocean dynamics, coupled ocean-atmospheric modeling, general ocean circulation, coastal ocean dynamics, ecosystem modeling
P. Muller, PhD— ocean circulation, waves and turbulence
*J. E. Schoonmaker, PhD—sedimentary geochemistry and diagenesis, interpretation of paleoenvironment and paleoclimate sedimentary records
S. Smith, PhD—C-N-P mass balance in marine systems, CO2 biogeochemistry, coastal ecology
R. Young, PhD—ecology and systematics of cephalopod mollusks

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 and suspended 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 volcanism, 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 UH Manoa. The oceanography facilities at UH Manoa 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 several hundred computers and servers. Precision instruments include mass spectrometers, gas and liquid chromatographs, a CHN analyzer, a flow cytometer, carbon analyzers, nutrient analyzers, and a series of atomic spectroscopy-based instruments. The world-class faculty is actively involved in both teaching and research. UH Manoa 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 Manoa an ideal place to study oceanography.

About 40 percent of marine scientists are employed by the U.S. government, especially by the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and Interior. 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 is placed in the student’s file.

Graduate Study

The department offers master’s and doctoral programs with areas of specializations in biological and physical oceanography, and marine geology and geochemistry.

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

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a 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 UH Manoa). 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 contact the department chair for further information. For U.S. applicants, the deadline for application for admission is January 15 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. 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. MS students are required to take six credits of OCN 699 (Directed Research) and six credits of OCN 700 (Thesis Research).

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, advanced geochemistry 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