Program Overview

The Tropical Marine Biology in Panama program is an intensive, short, late-summer course that focus on the biology of tropical coastal habitats (coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass meadows) and relevant human environmental issues on both local and global scales. The course is offered at the Bocas Research Station (BRS), a facility operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). BRS is located on Isla Colon, a part of an archipelago located along the Caribbean coast of Panama. This program is ideal for students majoring in the biological and environmental sciences.

The Marine Biology in Panama program offers scholarship with funding from the Williams Council for a limited amount of financial aid for students who qualify.  Priorities will be given to students who are Pell Grant eligible and part of the Pathway Oregon program, but any student who qualities for financial aid may also apply for funds to partially offset the cost of this program. Details on scholarships will be provided during the application process.

Check out what students from OIMB did in Panama on previous editions of this program.

Additional requirements

Biology, Marine Biology, or Environmental Science majors.

Have successfully completed at least one term at OIMB, including the BI 451 Invertebrate Zoology course, by the time you leave for Panama.

Academic Details

The Marine Biology in Panama program includes two weeks of on-site academic instruction and fieldwork in Panama offering five 400-level quarter credits n Biology.  The field course in Panama will be a combination of a large number of field trips to a variety of tropical habitats, field observations and data collection, and lectures on habitats and organisms. Students will keep a daily journal of their observations and experiences and conduct a research project.  Assessment of student work will focus on completion and quality of journal entries and presentation of research results.

During summer term, before departing to Panama, students will undertake a 1 credit effort to plan a research project to be conducted during the two weeks of field studies in Panama.  This pre-departure effort will involve periodic submissions of (and feedback on) planning reports organized around i) project design (questions and hypotheses) and background literature, ii) project experiments, methodology and expected data, and iii) a completed project proposal with a list of materials necessary to conduct the research. This component (equivalent to BI 408) is worth one credit, P/NP, and is included in the program fee. Students do not enroll for it separately.

Students must be majors in Marine Biology, Biology or Environmental Science, who by the time they leave for Panama have successfully completed at least one term at OIMB, including the BI 451 Invertebrate Zoology course offered in both spring and summer term.

Faculty and Staff

Professors Richard Emlet and Maya Watts, University of Oregon faculty members from the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB), will direct this program.

Housing Description

You will be housed in quads (four persons to a room) in the dormitories at the Bocas Research Station. Group meals will be arranged at the study site. The dormitory, like the entire research station, has a tropical charm that incorporates elements of both colonial and native styles and is a very comfortable place to stay for a two-week period.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearPriority DeadlineDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date
Priority Deadline
Arrival Date
Departure Date

Travel Advisories

For current health, safety, and travel advisory information, search the US Departmment of State country webpage.

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.