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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
Email: ocean@soest.hawaii.edu
Web: www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography


*Graduate Faculty

*F. J. Sansone, PhD (Chair)—biogeochemistry of permeable (sandy) sediments, coastal processes, trace-gas biogeochemistry, hydrothermal geochemistry
*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 and evolution, symbioses, microbial predator-prey interactions, choanoflagellate-bacterial interactions
*H. Annamali, PhD—tropical climate dynamics, climate variability and change, and predictability
*G. S. Carter, PhD—physical oceanography, ocean mixing, tides, internal waves
*M. J. Church, PhD—microbial oceanography, biogeochemistry, plankton biomass and production, ocean ecosystem dynamics
*E. H. De Carlo, PhD—carbon dioxide-carbonic acid system biogeochemical studies of coastal waters, gas exchange, land-ocean interactions and coral reef metabolism
*E. F. DeLong, PhD—microbial oceanography, environmental genomics and allied technologies, microbial evolution, ecological interactions and biogeochemistry
*J. Drazen, PhD—deep-sea ecology and fisheries, energetics and trophodynamics, physiological ecology of marine fishes
*K. F. Edwards, PhD—ecology of phytoplankton and other marine organisms; population and community ecology; theoretical ecology
*E. Firing, PhD—equatorial circulation, general circulation, physical oceanographic technology
*P. J. Flament, PhD—dynamics of the surface layer, mesoscale structures, remote sensing, water-types formation, subduction and thermocline ventilation, mixing processes
*B. T. Glazer, PhD—biogeochemical cycling, redox transition zone geomicrobiology, in situ electrochemical techniques
*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—aerosol composition, size distributions, and dynamics; dry deposition of particles and gases; aerosol sampling
*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
*P. Kemp, PhD—growth, activity and diversity of marine microbes; biosensor applications in microbial oceanography; molecular ecology of marine bacteria
*R. C. Kloosterziel, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, hydrodynamic, hydromagnetic stability
*D. S. Luther, PhD—oceanic waves from infragravity to Rossby, mesoscale variability, eddy-mean flow interaction, topography-catalyzed mixing, instrumentation, ocean observatories initiative
*M. McManus, PhD—coastal circulation, mesoscale processes, physical-biological interactions in the ocean
*G. McMurtry, PhD—geochemistry of marine deposits, seafloor venting processes, chemical volcanology, stable and radioisotope geochemistry, geochronology, in situ instrumentation development
*C. Measures, PhD—trace element geochemistry, shipboard analytical methods, atmospheric deposition to the oceans, elemental mass balances
*M. A. Merrifield, PhD—physical oceanography, waves, currents, sea level variability
*M. J. Mottl, PhD—submarine hydrothermal processes, geochemical cycles, sea-water-sea-floor chemical interaction
*C. E. Nelson, PhD—microbial ecology and ecosystem science in oceans, coral reefs, and freshwater habitats
*A. Neuheimer, PhD—quantitative marine ecology of fish and invertebrates
*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—ocean mixing processes, circulation and dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interaction, ecosystem modeling
*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
*N. Schneider, PhD—decadal climate variability, tropical air-sea interaction, coupled modeling
*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—marine bacteria and viruses, microbial genomics, molecular ecology and biogeochemical cycles
*A. Timmermann, PhD—tropical climate variability, large-scale ocean circulation, Paleoceanography, Earth-system modeling
*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
B. C. Bruno, PhD—planetary geosciences, geoscience education
M. Cooney, PhD—wastewater treatment and system sustainability analysis
E. Gaidos, PhD—evolutionary genomics, geomicrobiology, astrobiology, paleobiology, and Earth history
R. D. Gates, PhD—regulation and de-stabilization of coral/dinoflagellate symbioses, evolution and development of animal sensory systems
P. H. Lenz, PhD—neuroecology of zooplankton sensory systems
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—phylogenetic, genomic, and metabolic diversity of microorganisms including marine plankton, coral reef, and deep subsurface ecosystems
F. Thomas, PhD—coral reef and coastal ecology, reproductive biology, hydrodynamics and biomechanics
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

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
W. L. Au, PhD (Emeritus)—bioacoustics and ecological acoustics of the marine environment
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
C. M. Jones, PhD—stable isotopes, microbial N and C Cycling
D. W. Moore, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics, equatorial oceanography
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
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—sea-salt and marine aerosis, global pollution, atmospheric optics, aerosol-cloud studies, biogeochemical cycles
B. J. Huebert, PhD—air pollution, climate change, atmospheric aerosols, global elemental cycles, air-sea gas exchange
Y. H. Li, PhD—marine geochemistry, marine pollution studies
R. Lukas, PhD—equatorial circulation, air-sea interaction, climate variability, ocean observing systems
F. Mackenzie, PhD—geochemistry, sedimentology, greenhouse effect, biogeochemical cycles and global environmental change
L. Magaard, Dr. rer. nat.—ocean waves, oceanic turbulence, oceanography of Hawaiian waters, climate and society
A. Malahoff, PhD, DSc— geological and geophysical oceanography, submarine volcanism, hydrothermal, geothermal, and mineral formation processes, structure of the oceanic crust
*J. P. McCreary, Jr., PhD—equatorial ocean dynamics, coupled ocean-atmospheric modeling, general ocean circulation, coastal ocean dynamics, ecosystem modeling
P. Muller, PhD—theoretical oceanography, wave dynamics, stochastic (climate) models, foundations of complex system theories
*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