Unique Marine Biology degree to net SAU students

Southern Arkansas University’s new Marine Biology degree program is expected to reel in students from across the state and region as it is the only such program in Arkansas.

Marine Biology Ocean Research

Summer interns Olivia Lestrade, from left, and Charles Hem, and technician Sarah Muffelman rinse crustaceans and fishes from Sargassum.

The Marine Biology degree was approved for SAU by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education this spring. SAU will offer its first courses for the program when the fall semester begins on August 27, 2014. The program is expected to set sail with approximately 20 students.

It is not too late to enter the SAU Marine Biology program this fall, just apply online at www.SAUmag.edu/Apply.

“We are excited that SAU has been approved to offer the only Marine Biology major in Arkansas,” said SAU Provost and Vice President for Academics Dr. Trey Berry. “Several of our faculty members in the College of Science and Engineering have strong backgrounds in this field and our new partnerships on the Gulf Coast will provide SAU students with experiential learning and research opportunities to prepare them for the job market or for graduate school.”

Marine Biology Dr. Jesse Filburn

Marine Biology professor Dr. Jesse Filburn

SAU has added a faculty member from the Gulf Coast to spearhead this new program. Dr. Jesse Filburn is currently heading up an oil spill research project at the University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. His team is investigating the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to determine its effects on vulnerable fish larvae for current and future fisheries production.

“Dr. Filbrun has a unique set of research skills working with stable isotopes in both fresh and saltwater environments, and he will excel in the areas of teaching, research and service,” said Dr. Claude Baker, biology professor and former biology department chair. “His association with the Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Marine Laboratory and Dauphin Island Marine Station will also pay huge dividends for our students, who will get hands-on learning experiences there.”

SAU Marine Biology professor Dr. Jesse Filburn

Dr. Jesse Filbrun, left, and Sarah Muffelman, technician, rinse plankton into the cod end of a Neuston net used to collect surface-oriented organisms.

Filbrun earned his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and his bachelor’s from Bowling Green State University. His research has led to more than 20 presentations and many journal articles.

Marine Biology is just the latest of a long list of unique programs SAU has among its more than 65 degree offerings. Engineering is also kicking-off this fall at SAU, and is the only such program in south Arkansas. Computer Game and Animation Design started in the fall of 2013, and has been attracting students from well across the region and beyond.

“This is another example of how SAU is making a concerted effort to provide new, innovative, and attractive academic programs for our students,” said Berry.

Visit www.SAUmag.edu to find out more about SAU’s academic programs, the complete college experience and how to become a Mulerider.

Photos contributed by Dr. Frank Hernandez’s Fisheries Oceanography and Ecology Laboratory at The University of Southern Mississippi.

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