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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Academic Departments

School of Marine Science students are associated with one of four departments within VIMS.  Use the links below for more details about the faculty, graduate courses, research programs, facilities and equipment of each department.

Department of Biological Sciences: The faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences includes a diverse group of estuarine and coastal marine ecologists and biological oceanographers who work in a wide range of research areas, such as biogeochemical cycling; physiological, population, and community ecology; and whole ecosystem modeling using state-of-the-art approaches. Scientists in the department study the temporal and spatial patterns of benthic, planktonic and nektonic organisms and the processes that control their distribution, diversity and ecological functioning.  Also included within the research framework of the department is the Center for Coastal Resource Management. The major objectives of the Department of Biological Sciences are to generate, communicate and apply knowledge concerning the biological and ecological processes that operate in inland watersheds, coastal and estuarine systems and the open ocean, including human effects. learn more...

Department of Environmental and Aquatic Animal Health: Research within the Department of Environmental and Aquatic Animal Health emphasizes understanding the fates of contaminants and pathogens in estuarine and marine environments and their effects on important species as well as humans. A diverse faculty consisting of environmental chemists, toxicologists, ecotoxicologists, biochemists, immunologists, microbiologists, molecular geneticists, and pathobiologists collaborate to achieve these goals. A key mission of the department is to identify and detect toxicological, pathobiological and biochemical agents in the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed that affect the health of important aquatic organisms and surrounding human populations. Research questions are pursued at all levels of biological organization from the molecular and cellular to the organismal and population levels. Activities reflect a strong commitment to provide technical support to environmental managers and stakeholders who regulate and protect the waters and natural resources of the state, regional and federal management agencies, and marine-related industries. learn more...

Department of Fisheries Science: Research within the Department of Fisheries Science is focused on understanding the population dynamics and biology of fish, crab, and mollusc species of commercial, recreational and ecological importance. Also included within the research framework of the department is the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center. Collaborative research and teaching efforts are common among department faculty. In addition to furthering knowledge through peer-reviewed publications, members of the department advise local, regional, national and international resource management agencies and involve students directly in fisheries management. The department also maintains an internationally recognized collection of alcohol-preserved and skeletal specimens of fishes that are available for student research. learn more...

Department of Physical Sciences: The objectives of the Department of Physical Sciences are to generate, communicate and apply knowledge concerning the physical, chemical and geological processes that operate in the coastal ocean and estuaries. The physical oceanography group studies and models the properties and movement of water and dissolved and suspended material in estuarine, coastal and continental shelf environments. Geological oceanography includes the study of the processes of sediment erosion, transport and accumulation as well as the resulting stratigraphy. Marine chemistry emphasizes the study of marine biogeochemical processes, and environmental fate and transport of natural and anthropogenic substances. Interdisciplinary studies are strongly emphasized in the Department of Physical Sciences. learn more...