Whatever your career or academic goals, you can benefit from making research a part of your undergraduate education in marine biology.

  • Develop and demonstrate skills valuable for any employer: critical thinking, project management and communications (written and oral)
  • Your research contributes to the scientific understanding of life in the marine environment
  • Prepare for graduate or professional education. Research experience will make you a more competitive applicant
  • Learn from faculty outside of the classroom as you are mentored individually or in small groups

Find research opportunities

Campus resources
Undergraduate Research Program: Resources for all UW undergraduates, including research workshops, advising, a listserve for opportunities, and an annual campus-wide symposium.

OCEAN/FISH/BIOL 477: Seminar in Marine Biology
3 credit seminar offered annually in winter. Students develop their own review of primary literature to research a focused topic in marine biology. Marine Biology minors only.

OCEAN/FISH/BIOL 479: Research in Marine Biology
Individual research on topics in marine biology. Requires a learning contract with a faculty adviser for an independent research project (see details below). Students can register for 1-15 credits per quarter.

Study at Friday Harbor Labs
You can study and live for an entire quarter at the UW’s very own marine field station on San Juan Island. You may choose to mix your research with a schedule of standard courses, or you may devote your whole quarter to a research apprenticeship. Plan a quarter at FHL.

Independent research
If you have an idea for your own research, you may be able to develop an independent project and earn credit for the experience. Start by discussing your idea with a faculty as you will need someone to mentor your research. You might first reach out to a teacher from a current or previous class, but you might find someone with expertise in your area of interest on our faculty page. Be prepared to talk about your initial goals: area of research interest, how much time you can devote, and what the ‘end product’ will look like (e.g., research paper, literature review, presentation). Expect to get feedback, and you will need to revise your plan! For more information about registering for research credits, review the files below and contact the Marine Biology Adviser.

Independent Research Guide: Detailed instructions on how to set up a learning contract.


Mary Gates Research Scholarships
Competitive scholarships for undergraduate research. Awarded annually with an application deadline in late October.

College of the Environment Student Travel & Meeting Fund
Undergraduates in the College of the Environment may apply for financial support to cover travel and registration expenses to attend conferences and research symposia. Applications accepted quarterly.

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