Undersea Spectacular

Undergraduate student Tim Briggs (S’19) spent six weeks during the summer of 2017 combining his passion for marine science and underwater photography. The results are stunning. Briggs, who also completed the Three Seas Program where he received training in underwater research methods, is one of 15 winners from around the world who won a competition called #ThisFirst, launched by the skate, surf, and snowboarding apparel company Volcom. He is is pursuing a major in marine biology and a minor in photography. Check out some of Briggs’ incredible images here.

Colloquium Speaker Series: Dr. Jake Daane, Northeastern University

Dr. Daane presents a lecture entitled “Broad Taxonomic Phylogenomics of Sub- and High-Antarctic Notothenioid Fishes” at the Marine Science Center in Nahant.

This event is free of charge and open to the public.

Colloquium Speaker Series: Dr. Jake Daane, Northeastern University

Dr. Daane presents a lecture entitled “Broad Taxonomic Phylogenomics of Sub- and High-Antarctic Notothenioid Fishes” at the Marine Science Center in Nahant.

This event is free of charge and open to the public.

Colloquium Speaker Series: Dr. Jake Daane, Northeastern University

Dr. Daane presents a lecture entitled “Broad Taxonomic Phylogenomics of Sub- and High-Antarctic Notothenioid Fishes” at the Marine Science Center in Nahant.

This event is free of charge and open to the public.

Program Costs


All courses are Northeastern University courses. Undergraduate credit is available for all courses offered. Credits earned in the program are transferable to most colleges and universities.


MS Marine Biology/Three Seas Program Costs – 2017/18

(billed by Northeastern University)

Year 1
Fall – Nahant
21 credit hours, 18 billed hours – $22,680

Spring – Panama, Washington
20 credit hours, 19 billed hours – $23,940

Summer (Internship location)
1 credit hour – $1,260

Year 2
*1 credit hour – $1,310
(assumes a 4% tuition increase for the 2018-2019 academic year)

Total Tuition – $49,190

Housing & Meals

Spring – Panama, Washington
Panama – $6,000
Washington – $3,800

Total Housing – $9,800

Other Costs
(What to expect separate from Northeastern University costs)

Housing – $4,790
SCUBA – $1,500

Transportation – $1,200 (assuming airfare from Boston, MA)

Living Expenses – Dependent on internship agreement and location

NOTE: Credit and housing rates for the spring and following fall semesters may differ due to fee changes between in academic years.


The Three Seas program recruits high-caliber faculty who direct active research programs. Our average faculty member has over 10 years of teaching experience with our program. Five of our current faculty members are former Three Seas students who have completed a PhD and returned to teach in our program on a part-time basis in their area of expertise. Many current and former faculty members actively recruit Three Seas alumni as graduate students and research technicians, as they know our students have acquired a diverse skill set needed to succeed in these positions.


Dr. Donald Cheney
Associate Professor Emeritus, Northeastern University

Dr. Cheney is an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. His research interests include invasive seaweeds and seaweed blooms, the environmental consequences of some seaweed’s ability to take up toxic organic compounds like PCBs and transfer them to higher trophic levels, and seaweed aquaculture. Currently, he is working on developing a high-temperature tolerant strain of Palmaria for a west coast abalone aquaculture company, whose current source can not survive climate change caused by higher summer seawater temperatures. Dr. Cheney has taught in the Three Seas Program since its inception, when it was known as the East-West Program. In the past, he has taught either Marine Botany or Molecular Marine Biology. Today he is co-instructor in ZooBots with Dr. Tara Duffy, teaching the botany portion of the course.


Dr. Marcus Drymon
Research Assistant Professor, University of South Alabama

Dr. Drymon is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of South Alabama, where he directs the Shark Research Program. His primary research interests are in marine fisheries ecology, including assessments of species’ life history, distributions and trophic ecology in coastal ecosystems. His current research explores the factors influencing the distributions of coastal sharks in the Gulf of Mexico through a series of fishery-independent surveys, satellite and acoustic telemetry projects.

Dr. Tara Duffy
Lecturer, Northeastern University

Dr. Duffy is a Lecturer in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. Her research is focused on how animals respond to selection pressures, both natural and human-derived. She also has strong interests in all things aquaculture, having raised animals ranging from blue crabs to Atlantic sturgeon. An instructor of courses in marine sciences, zoology, evolution, and marine pollution, she has a passion for teaching students how to effectively communicate science. Dr. Duffy is a co-instructor of the ZooBots course with Dr. Don Cheney at the Marine Science Center in Nahant, MA.


Dr. Rachel Gittman
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Northeastern University

Dr. Gittman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Northeastern University currently working with Dr. Jonathan Grabowski. Her current research with Dr. Grabowski involves coordinating and synthesizing data for a Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) Working Group to determine whether current and past federally funded coastal restoration is aligned with social and ecological needs. Dr. Gittman is the instructor for the Three Seas Marine Conservation Biology course held at Friday Harbor.


Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley
Assistant Scientist, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences

Dr. Goodbody-Gringley leads the Reef Ecology and Evolution Laboratory at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, combining large-scale in situ ecological surveys, small-scale laboratory experiments, and molecular ecology to answer questions related to the health, evolution, and resilience of reefs ranging from the shallow reef the mesophotic zone. Some of her current research projects include assessing biodiversity and ecosystem function on mesophotic reefs, ecological impacts of the invasive lionfish, and reproductive ecology of scleractinian corals across a depth gradient. In 2001/2002 she participated in the Three Seas Program and subsequently worked as a Research Technician for Dr. Kenneth Sebens at the University of Maryland studying temperate subtidal benthic communities in New England. Dr. Goodbody-Gringley teaches the Biology of Corals course in the Panama portion of the program.


Dr. Brian Helmuth
Professor, Northeastern University

Dr. Helmuth is a Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University, where he also holds a joint appointment in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.  His research and teaching focus on the impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems, and he and his students use a combination of techniques ranging from mathematical modeling to field research.  Work in the Helmuth Lab also explores new ways to communicate scientific information to diverse stakeholders, including K-12 students, and his group is actively designing a series of educational games and virtual reality tours.  He has taught the Ocean and Coastal Processes course for Three Seas in Jamaica, Moorea, and now Panama.

Niels-Viggo Hobbs

Dr. Niels-Viggo S. Hobbs
Instructor, University of Rhode Island

In addition to being a part of Northeastern’s Three Seas team, Dr. Hobbs is an instructor at the University of Rhode Island and supervising field biologist for Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council. His research interests focus on the community ecology of marine invertebrates, particularly crustaceans and invasive species in general. He is particularly interested in the role of facilitation and tolerance as mechanisms for the success of introduced species. Dr. Hobbs is teaching the Experimental Design in Marine Ecology course for the Three Seas spring semester.

Dr. David Kimbro
Assistant Professor, Northeastern University

Dr. Kimbro is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. His research interests include a broad range of issues in population dynamics, community ecology, invasion biology, ecosystem science, and coastal oceanography. In 2014, he joined the Three Seas faculty team to teach Experimental Design in Marine Ecology.


Dr. Shannon Lyons
Chesapeake Program Director, SouthWings

Dr. Lyons directs a non-profit in Chesapeake Bay that coordinates aviation experiences for academics, conservationists, media, and politicians to reveal and mitigate environmental issues impacting watersheds and marine wildlife. She specializes in bridging boundaries between science and management particularly related to marine conservation through the experience of flight. Her current portfolio focuses on sea level rise, coastal resilience, nutrient discharge, algae blooms, fisheries and marine mammal monitoring. Dr. Lyons joined the Three Seas faculty in 2016 to teach Marine Conservation Biology at Friday Harbor Laboratories.
Dr. Mark Patterson living in the Aquarius Habitat.

Dr. Mark Patterson
Professor, Northeastern University

Dr. Patterson is a Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. He also holds a joint appointment in Civil and Environmental Engineering and is the Associate Director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern. An expert in marine robotics and environmental fluid mechanics, current research in his lab addresses how to measure microplastics in the ocean, managing tide gates in wetlands, and applying network science to coral reefs. His favorite research experience is living underwater; so far he has spent 89 days living in underwater laboratories like Aquarius (see left). Dr. Patterson has taught in the program since its inception, and feels lucky to now lead Three Seas as Faculty Head.


Dr. Sean Place
Assistant Professor, Sonoma State University

Dr. Place is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Sonoma State University. Research projects in the Place lab are grounded in the field of molecular and ecological physiology of marine organisms. Research questions specifically address the mechanistic underpinnings of the physiological response of marine organisms that inhabit near shore environments. His lab is currently focusing on the genomic response of marine invertebrates to environmental perturbations and seasonal changes in habitat temperature, oxygen levels, and environmental pH. Dr. Place is one of the co-instructors for the Physiological Marine Molecular Ecology (PMME) section of the program at Friday Harbor.

Dad Feb 2015 (2)

William Precht
Director of Marine & Coastal Programs, Dial Cordy and Associates

Bill is the Director of Marine & Coastal Programs at Dial Cordy and Associates. He is considered an expert in the fields of environmental resource management, marine and estuarine research, coastal and ocean policy, mitigation planning, public outreach, marine and freshwater habitat restoration, and environmental regulation. He has been involved in scientific support for oil spill and ship grounding response, as well as Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDA), restoration scaling, planning, and implementation. A fixture since Three Seas (formerly East-West) began, Bill teaches Coral Reef Ecology in the Panama portion of the program. 


Dr. Dianne Quigley
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Brown University

Dr. Quigley, PhD is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Research at Brown University. She is also the principal investigator of the NSF-funded Northeast Ethics Education Partnership (NEEP) at Brown University from 2010 – 2017. With NSF funding, she has developed and disseminated graduate courses and course training materials for the areas of Marine Science Policy, Community-based Research, and Ethics for Engineerrs. She also developed a NEEP website to disseminate ethics course  training materials to university faculty nationally and internationally. Dr. Quigley teaches Ocean and Coastal Sustainability at the Marine Science Center during the Nahant portion of the program.


Dr. Justin Ries
Associate Professor, Northeastern University

Dr. Ries is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. The focus of his research is oceanic change, which he investigates over broad temporal scales. Dr. Ries teams up with Dr. Mark Patterson to teach the Oceanography course for Three Seas students in the Nahant portion of the program.


Dr. Jameal Samhouri
Research Fisheries Biologist, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Dr. Samhouri is a marine and conservation biologist based at the Conservation Biology division of NOAA Fisheries Service in Seattle, Washington. Through field experiments, quantitative analysis, and the development of mathematical models, his research focuses on how people’s activities influence marine ecosystems, and how changes in marine ecosystems affect people. Jameal’s specific research areas of interest include ecosystem-based reference points, vulnerability of fish and fishermen to climate change, effects of coastal activities on seagrass community dynamics, and theory for ecosystem restoration and recovery. Most of his work now centers on the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, including Puget Sound, but he also continues to work in several places throughout the Caribbean studying coral reefs. Dr. Samhouri joined Three Seas in 2013 to co-teach the Biology & Ecology of Fishes course.


Kelsey Schultz
Lab Technician, Grabowski Lab, Northeastern University

Kelsey recently graduated with an MS in Marine Biology from Three Seas and has been involved with the program ever since. Kelsey served as the Diving Research Methods teaching assistant for 3 consecutive semesters before transitioning to co-instructor alongside Jessica Burke.


Dr. Lauren Toth
Research Oceanographer, U.S. Geological Survey

Dr. Toth is a Research Oceanographer at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Coastal and Marine Science Center in St. Petersburg, FL. Toth’s research uses coral-reef geology and paleoecology to better understand how reefs respond to climatic and oceanographic perturbations over a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Her current research is focused on developing reconstructions of past ecosystems and environments using coral-reef cores from Pacific Panama and the Florida Keys. Dr. Toth joined the Three Seas faculty in 2015 to teach the Coral Reef Ecology course in Pacific Panama.


W. Breck Tyler, MS
Associate Marine Specialist, University of California at Santa Cruz

Breck is an ecologist with the Institute of Marine Sciences (UC Santa Cruz) and the Friday Harbor Labs (University of Washington) with 40 years of experience studying the behavioral ecology and conservation of seabirds and marine mammals in the Pacific. His research includes long-term environmental monitoring of coastal and pelagic habitats and populations.  He oversees a program to prevent and assess injury to marine birds and mammals during oil spills. Breck has taught Marine Birds and Mammals for the Three Seas program since 1994.

Dr. Mackenzie Zippay
Assistant Professor, Sonoma State University

Dr. Zippay is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Sonoma State University. Her research interests are in the comparative and molecular physiology of marine invertebrates that inhabit dynamic environments. Current research focuses on using intertidal mussels as a model organism to integrate molecular based analyses of cellular stress with oceanographic and climatic variables to quantitatively predict patterns of growth, reproduction and survival across multiple spatial scales. Dr. Zippay is one of the co-instructors for the Physiological Marine Molecular ecology (PMME) section of the program at Friday Harbor. Ecological questions raised in the course drive a mechanistic approach by understanding how marine organisms are able to cope or tolerate a changing environment.



Alumni Career Paths

Students completing the Three Seas program have acquired the skill set needed to pursue exciting opportunities in marine research. Our alumni have gained admission to the best graduate schools and are now leaders in their field.

During the summer between the two Three Seas semesters, we have had huge success in placing our students in exciting co-op and internship positions and in assisting students choose complementary coursework. Over the past decade our students have been engaged in research efforts in Australia, the Bahamas, California, French Polynesia, Florida, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Jamaica, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Taiwan, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Within a few years of completing the program, many of our students are pursuing graduate degrees in marine science. Some alumni first work as technicians before entering school, while others use the Three Seas program as an immediate springboard into a graduate program. Alumni of Three Seas have joined the ranks of leading scientists in academia, state and federal government agencies, private consulting firms, and non-governmental organizations.

However, not all alumni choose a career in marine science. Many enter the program undecided between two or more career paths, or simply participate in the Three Seas program to gain a greater appreciation of marine life. The intense academic experience and group dynamic serves our students well no matter which path they choose. Our alumni have also pursued careers as doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, secondary school teachers, engineers, or in a variety of business pursuits.

Three Seas students spend the year in the company of graduate students, post-doctoral scientists, and scientists from both academia and the private sector, all of whom provide their personal perspective regarding their career. Students leave this program well informed of their career options and what lies ahead at each stage of the process. While some ultimately choose a career not directly related to marine science, all have gained a life-long appreciation of the field of marine biology.


Request More Information


Students are expected to have completed one year of introductory biology and two biology electives (courses in ecology and genetics are recommended) prior to entering the program. Exceptions to this requirement can be made based on other biology courses completed (e.g. molecular biology, marine biology, etc.) and on the overall strength of your application. If you are not certain you have the appropriate background, please contact the Three Seas program office. Undergraduate applicants are reviewed on a rolling admissions basis.

Northeastern University undergraduates will submit the Northeastern Undergraduate Application allowing access to your Northeastern transcript, listing references and their contact information, and completing a personal essay. Undergraduates from other universities should contact the program for an external undergraduate application and recommendation form to be submitted with a personal essay, official college transcript(s), two academic letters of recommendation, and a $50 application fee.

International students must also submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores and a DCF (Declaration and Certification of Finances) form.


All courses are Northeastern University courses. Undergraduate credit is available for all courses offered. Credits earned in the program are transferable to most colleges and universities. Undergraduates earn a total of 42 credits while in the program (20 in Nahant, 8 in Friday Harbor, 12 in Panama) with 20 credits billed for spring semester and 20 credits billed the following fall semester. Students pursuing optional research project credits will be billed for additional credits according to their independent study.

Program Costs

An itemized accounting of all costs, including additional costs not paid as tuition and fees, can be requested by contacting the program office. Credit and housing rates for the spring and following fall semesters may differ due to the difference in academic years.

Graduate Applicants

Students wishing to earn graduate credit for participation in the Three Seas program must apply to the Master of Science in Marine Biology program which is offered in conjunction with the Three Seas program. For more information on the graduate application process, visit the Master of Science in Marine Biology website.

Medical Insurance and Diving

Students must supply a medical examination and evidence of medical insurance coverage for the program year. All students planning on SCUBA diving with the program must have diving certification and Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) insurance. Students provide all of their own dive gear except tanks. All classes using SCUBA for fieldwork also have projects for snorkelers. Students wanting to become SCUBA certified should do so by the summer and have ten open water dives before beginning this program.