Marine Science Scholars Program Shannon Point Marine Center

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the MSS program still happen in the 2020-2021 academic year?

While we have been eager to welcome our 2020 cohort of MSS scholars for our initial residential experience at the Shannon Point Marine Center, the realities of the Covid-19 situation have forced us to rethink this year’s program. Social distancing guidelines currently in place prohibit us from putting everyone in our marine center housing and restrictions on use of vans and boats prevent us from providing the kind of immersive experience that is the hallmark of MSS. We considered a virtual MSS program but it became clear that a remote experience could not duplicate the value of the on-site program. With those concerns, we are modifying this year’s MSS program as follows.

1. We will not run the September 6-19 residential program at the Shannon Point Marine Center.

2. We encourage those accepted into the MSS program to enroll in MACS 111: Curr. Topics Marine Science I (CRN#44666) during fall quarter. This will be a virtual course with a dedicated faculty mentor who will work to provide strong mentoring and quality interactions that will introduce you to our facilities, our faculty, and the broader community of Marine Science Scholars.

3. During the Spring Quarter, we encourage MSS students to enroll in MACS 110. This will include several activities during the quarter but will focus primarily on a residential experience at the Shannon Point Marine Center from June 14-18 (immediately after Spring Quarter finals). This will be your opportunity to live at the marine center, experience local marine habitats, work from our vessels, and engage in hands-on research.

We realize our inability to run the fall program we had anticipated is disappointing to you and we share that disappointment. However, we believe our revised plan will provide immediate connections to our marine science faculty, other MSS students and alumni, and an excellent entry point to your marine science experience.

What is Biology 110?

Biology 110 is a 4-credit, hands-on course called Marine Habitat Diversity that Marine Science Scholars take in the two weeks before their first Fall Quarter at Western. During these two weeks, you will live and study at the Shannon Point Marine Center and be immersed in learning about our marine habitats. We will take field trips to experience the biological and physical aspects of the marine environment, work on our research vessels to gather oceanographic data, and interact with marine life.

Students enrolling in the Marine Habitat Diversity course for Fall 2019 should plan to arrive at SPMC on Sunday, September 8, 2019. The course ends on Saturday, September 21st and arrangements will be made to transport students to the main campus for an early check-in.

What is the Shannon Point Marine Center?

The Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) is the marine research station of Western Washington University and is located in Anacortes, WA. SPMC supports and integrates academic instruction, research, and community education programs in the marine sciences. SPMC is home to resident faculty and staff who conduct scientific research, ranging from the study of oceanographic processes involving microscopic plankton to the ecology and biochemistry of marine life. The combination of high quality research facilities and easy access to marine environments make SPMC an ideal location for marine studies. More information and our Newsletter can be found on the SPMC website.

What are the requirements for participating in the Marine Science Scholars Program?

Marine Science Scholars are required to enroll in Biology 110 in fall quarter of their first year. For your freshman and sophomore years, we encourage you to voluntarily enroll in the Biology 111 and Biology 112 seminar courses throughout the school year to stay connected with contemporary issues that affect the marine realm. These seminars not only immerse the Scholars in important issues concerning the ocean, but also help them explore career options and build scientific skills including scientific communication (written and oral), reading scientific literature, facilitating discussion, and critical thinking.

How to Apply

You needn’t be a Marine Science Distinguished Scholar to study Marine Biology at Western. Any student (freshman or transfer) interested in Marine Biology is encouraged to pursue the Biology – Marine Emphasis major at Western. But the specific Marine Science Distinguished Scholars Program is a separate, competitive, invitation-only opportunity for select incoming freshmen. There is no initial, separate application. All eligible, high-achieving high school seniors are automatically considered without any separate application needed, and may receive a special invitation to apply based on excellent high school grades and marine science experience/interest as indicated in their application for general admission to Western Washington University.