Study Abroad In Belize

Study Abroad In Belize

Tropical Marine Biology Field Study (L342)

The Department of Biological Sciences, in cooperation with Office of International Programs, is offering a unique opportunity to learn about our marine environment and then experience it first hand in Belize.

Marine biology covers a range of complex environments and a diverse assortment of plants and animals adapted to them. While it is possible to discuss these environments in a lecture course, there is really no substitute for experiencing them in person. The aim of this course is to introduce participants to a variety of habitats, including coral reefs, grass beds, soft and hard bottom communities, intertidal zones, sandy beaches, mangrove swamps and estuaries. A student who completes this course will have observed and learned about the structure and function of a variety of tropical marine ecosystems and their inhabitants, as well as experienced Belize culture firsthand.

While in San Pedro, Ambergis Cay, Belize, we will use the Belize Marine TREC (Tropical Research and Education Center) facility as a base of operations to explore tropical marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Along with daily field trips, the course will include lectures, group activities and projects used to integrate information learned in lecture courses to what the students observe in the field.


Dr. Peter Bushnell

Dr. Peter Bushnell, who also teaches Marine Biology (L304), earned a Master's degree in Marine Biology from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Hawaii. He has an on-going, active research program in the area of fish physiology, studying the ways in which fish have adapted to life in a marine environment, and spends summers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Wachapreague, Virginia.

Dr. Ann Grens

Dr. Ann Grens holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of California, San Diego and performs research in the area of developmental biology using a simple cnidarian (an animal related to sea anemones and jellyfish) as her study system. She also teaches a survey course in zoology (Z301 - Introduction to the Animal Kingdom) for Biology majors.Together with Dr. Bushnell, she has co-instructed the undergraduate course Tropical Marine Biology Field Study three times in Jamaica and twice in Belize.


Course Costs

Although somewhat dependent on airfare and on the final number of students enrolled, the course is estimated to cost $2300-$2500 (excluding registration fees for the 3 credit hours), and includes all expenses: round trip airfare from South Bend, lodging, meals, lab fees, boat fees, charter bus fees, park entrance fees, guide fees, taxes and tips. Not included are personal expenditures (snacks, souvenirs, snorkeling gear if you don't already own it, passport fees if you don't already have one), unscheduled trips, and SCUBA diving fees (optional and done on your own time).  Financial aid can be used to pay for the cost of this course as long as you're eligible for an award large enough to cover it - this is a legitimate course expense, just like a lab fee or a materials fee for an art course.

Although Biology L342 is a Summer Session I course, so you won't register for the course or pay for the credit hours until April, you must receive authorization from the course instructors (Dr. Bushnell and Dr. Grens) and pay the costs associated with the trip during Spring semester.  Because plane tickets and rooms at the field site must be paid in advance, all fees associated with the trip must be paid in full by March 15. A $200 deposit is required by January 15 to reserve your space in the course.