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Marine Biology

Lauren Fuess

Lauren Fuess has always been drawn to environmental sciences. In high school, when she started thinking about college, there were two criteria a college had to meet: It had to have a strong program in marine biology, and be a place where small classes were the norm. The College of Charleston delivered on both.

“When I came to visit the campus, I went through the facilities at Grice Marine Lab, and talked to students and a few professors. The program seemed to be very strong.” She credits a freshman seminar with giving her a specific focus in marine biology. “Since high school I’ve been interested in coral reefs. Through the seminar, we learned to plan ahead and network with professors. In the course of my planning, I found a class on the biology of coral reefs, and that clinched it for me.”

Lauren took a series of courses required for the marine biology major, including Oceanography and General Ecology. She complemented her coursework by assisting a professor whose research area is bleaching in local coral reefs. “That independent research project has really been valuable. I was able to design my own extension of it, for which I wrote and received a year-long grant from the College. This was a great experience because it helped me gain insight into the everyday tasks of a scientist. In addition, this project has allowed me to think independently and work collaboratively – something I’ve really enjoyed.”

Through the marine biology program’s connections, she secured a prestigious, paid internship in a program funded by the National Science Foundation. “I conducted research with a professor from the University of Georgia in aquatic chemical ecology. Our work is in the process of being published, and I’ll be able to attend scientific conferences to present our findings. Also, the program allowed me to network with scientists and make important connections. .

“The chances I’ve had to get involved in independent research are really among the most beneficial experiences I’ve had at the College, and I think they’ll make me stand out when I apply to grad school and for jobs in the future. I’m certain I would not have had these opportunities at most other undergraduate schools.”

Program Information

Our marine biology program provides a strong background for graduate studies as well as for rewarding careers in fields as diverse as fisheries biology, oceanography, wildlife biology, environmental and conservation science, aquaculture, molecular biology, biomedicine and toxicology, and teaching. In addition, career opportunities exist within the fisheries industry, conservation organizations, environmental consulting companies and the federal government. The Grice Marine Lab at Fort Johnson is not only a full-service facility with classrooms, teaching and research labs, it’s also located within a complex of complementary research facilities operated by both state and federal agencies.


Our graduates have gone on to diverse roles, including executive director of a marine conservation nonprofit, medical doctors and environmental lawyers.

Graduates are regularly accepted to graduate programs at top-tier research universities in the U.S. and abroad.

Our marine laboratory facilities include small and medium vessels, a wet lab and aquarium, and fish and invertebrate museum collections.


The department offers multiple independent research opportunities and helps connect students with similar programs elsewhere.

Regularly taught courses include Biogeography, Biology of Coral Reefs, and Biology of Fishes.


Contact Information

Jaap Hillenius
Department Chair