New class provides travel, research opportunity

Contributed photo: Students will travel to San Salvador for snorkeling and field research after classes are over.Contributed photo: Students will travel to San Salvador for snorkeling and field research after classes are over.For those who think that science is boring, think again. One need only look to the first floor of Zurn Hall and its marine biology curriculum to witness the possibilities of this discipline.

Mercyhurst College’s Biology Department is offering a new class, Tropical Marine Biology, for both majors and non-majors that will break the monotony of the classroom.

Natalie Waddell-Rutter and Summer Weaver, the professors teaching the course, plan to take students on an eight-to-10-day trip to San Salvador in the Bahamas for snorkeling and field research. Students will leave May 24 and return between June 2 and 4.

“This is a field course,” Waddell-Rutter says, “so there is a component where we actually get to go and see what we’ve spent all term talking about.

“Actually getting to see the ecosystems and organisms…is a completely different experience than the classroom. It makes it a much more memorable experience that can actually change the focus of a major or spark a desire for travel in the student,” she says.

The lectures and labs will focus on the ecosystems and animal life students will be seeing in San Salvador, as well as developing a research project to apply once they arrive at the island.

The trip will cost $1,110, a price tag that will cover all transportation, food and housing costs.

Weddell-Rutter said, “adding in the field component, where we spend ten days in the ecosystems that we’ve talked about for a term, opens up a new field of learning.”

Students who have questions about the course can attend a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 8:30 p.m. in Zurn 102. If they miss or are unable to attend the meeting, interested students can contact Waddell-Rutter or Weaver by e-mail or phone at 824-2050.