Friday Harbor Laboratories

2008 Courses of Instruction
Spring, Summer and Autumn

Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL), part of the University of Washington, offers coursework for undergraduates, post-baccalaureates and graduate students. Spring and autumn sessions run a full academic quarter (10-11 weeks) with courses and research apprenticeships targeted to undergraduates and post-baccalaureates. In summer we offer several graduate-level courses plus 1 undergraduate-level course. Summer courses run 5 weeks in either of two summer sessions.

Courses and research apprenticeships at Friday Harbor Laboratories require a full-time commitment, normally all day Monday-Friday and Saturdays from 8:00 until noon. Students in all courses earn credits through the University of Washington.


10 weeks, March 31 - June 7.

Marine Zoology / Marine Botany/Marine Benthic Ecology (Biol 430 + Biol 445, 5 credits each, plus Biol 499, 6 credits). These three courses are integrated and students must register concurrently for the two 5-credit courses plus the 6-credit Marine Benthic Ecology research apprenticeship, for a total of 16 credits.


Plus two Research Apprenticeship Teams for undergrads or post-bacs

  • Parallel Evolution of Nervous Systems: From Genes to Behavior (Biol 499, 15 credits)
  • Marine Sedimentary Processes (Ocean 499, 15 cr)

Beam Reach Program (Ocean 360, Ocean 365).

SUMMER Session A 2008

5 weeks, June 9 - July 12.


SUMMER Session B 2008

5 weeks July 14 - August 16.

Beam Reach Program (Ocean 360, Ocean 365).


11 weeks, Sept. 22 - December 6.

Research Apprenticeship Teams for undergrads or post-baccs:

Independent Study

During all quarters, graduate students may register for research at FHL with the consent of their faculty advisors: Independent Study or Research (600 level course), Master's Thesis (700 level course), Doctoral Dissertation (800 course).

Students live in dormitories on the FHL campus and are provided meals in the FHL Dining Hall. The FHL campus is sited on a 484-acre biological preserve on San Juan Island (75 miles NW of Seattle) accessible by scheduled ferry service, float plane and commuter aircraft. Accepted students should plan to arrive at FHL on the Sunday afternoon or evening the day before class begins, and may depart on the final Saturday of the session following lab clean up, normally completed by about noon.

Admission decisions are usually made within four weeks following the application deadline, and applicants will be notified via email.

See the FHL Student Costs webpage for information about costs.

TRANSCRIPTS: to receive a transcript for a course or apprenticeship completed at FHL, follow instructions provided at the following University of Washington web site: reg/transcripts.html#Q1.


For information contact:

The Zoo-Bot Quarter

March 31 - June 7, 2008 (10 weeks) M-F 8-5
16 credits total:
Biology 430 (5 credits) Marine Zoology
Biology 445 (5 credits) Marine Botany
Biology 499 (6 credits) Marine Benthic Ecology (co-requisite research apprenticeship)

Dr. Megan Dethier, Department of Biology, University of Washington
Dr. Emily Carrington, Department of Biology, University of Washington
Dr. Kevin Britton-Simmons, Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington

This trio of courses surveys the groups of marine invertebrates and plants represented in the San Juan Archipelago; natural history, adaptations, evolution, and taxonomy. Considerable field work and detailed laboratory study of organisms is included. All students will perform organized outreach activities with the local schools. A field trip to the outer coast will allow contrasts of the organisms and ecology there. The linked apprenticeship will focus on the study of the ecology of intertidal organisms. Each student will select an independent research topic to perform in the field, laboratory, or both; examples include interactions between introduced seaweeds and native herbivores, the adaptive significance of morphological variation in marine invertebrates, variation in rates of recruitment of juvenile clams onto beaches. The apprenticeship will be integrated with the Marine Zoology/Botany program; students must register for all three. Enrollment limited to 15 students.

Photo: Dr. Emily Carrington

See the FHL Student Cost webpage for information about costs.

Prerequisites: Appropriate background in biological sciences and permission of instructors.

For additional information, contact


(for undergraduates or post-baccalaureates)

Research apprenticeships at FHL are generally offered for a full academic quarter (10-11 weeks) in Spring and Autumn Quarters. There will be two options in Spring Quarter 2008 and three options in Autumn Quarter 2008. For 2008 research apprenticeship descriptions and information, please visit our Research Apprenticeships 2008 webpage.



Ocean 360: Marine Field Research
Ocean 365: Practicing Sustainability Science

Intensive 10-week acoustic exploration of orcas and their ecosystem, with time split between FHL campus and onboard a sailing research vessel. Please visit the Beam Reach website for information about the program, its admission process and costs.

SUMMER Session A 2008

For information, please contact Stacy Markman, FHL Student Coordinator.

The 5-week courses in summer are intended primarily for graduate students, with the exception of Marine Invertebrate Zoology. Courses may be taken sequentially, i.e., one in each summer session, but not concurrently. Well-qualified undergraduates may be admitted to graduate level courses with the consent of the Director and the faculty involved.

See the FHL Student Cost webpage for information about costs.

Functional Morphology and Ecology of Marine Fishes

Session A June 9 - July 12, 2008
5 weeks: M-F 8-5; S 8-12
Fish 565 (9 credits)

Dr. Adam Summers and Dr. Lara Ferry-Graham

The course will use the diverse marine fish community of the San Juan Islands as a tool for exploring the relationship between functional morphology and ecology. Students in the course will learn: 1) the evolutionary history and relationships of the major radiations of bony and cartilaginous fishes; 2) the tools and techniques of collecting; 3) the tools and techniques of functional morphology.  For the first several weeks of the course there will be daily lectures and field trips to familiarize students with the basic tools and animals that they will need for the latter portion of the course. For the second half of the course students will pursue an independent research project. A variety of projects will be suggested but it is also possible to come up with a completely original project based on personal interest.

In the past, projects have covered a wide range of topics including purely ecological, eco-morphology, comparative physiology, comparative morphology and functional morphology. The course will culminate in an oral and written presentation of the results of the research project.  This course has historically enjoyed a strong place in the training of functional morphological researchers, and people in the community have expectations about the course. Our experience with the course in the summer of 2001, 2004 and 2006 has led us to make several changes to the syllabus. However, the majority of the structure and material covered will follow the pattern set in the many successful incarnations of the course.  We successfully experimented with several mini seminars during the course - on phylogenetics, material properties and on MatLab, and this has been incorporated into the plan for the summer of 2008.

Check out the website from the 2006 course.

Enrollment limited to 12 students.

For additional information, contact Dr. Adam Summers or Dr. Lara Ferry-Graham.


Marine Algae

Session A June 9 - July 12, 2008
5 weeks: M-F 8-5; S 8-12
Biol 539 (9 credits)

Dr. Bob Waaland and Dr. Tom Mumford

This course explores marine algae with emphasis on their role in marine ecosystems. The course will have three key components.

1. Investigating seaweed diversity and the practical skills essential for identification of these organisms will be examined through field forays and laboratory studies of seaweed-dominated cool temperate water communities accessible in the San Juan Archipelago and on the exposed outer coast of Vancouver Island. Collection, preservation and record keeping essential for biodiversity sampling and analysis will be emphasized. Laboratory methods will emphasize the use of essential literature and microscopic examination in order to understand the morphological and reproductive details relevant to this purpose. We will include at least two dredging trips for the deeper marine flora using the R/V Centennial; we also use the underwater ROV to examine accessible seaweed communities in select localities.

Photo by Erin Spencer


2. The functional role of seaweeds in marine ecosystems will be examined through discussion, laboratory and field methods emphasizing the role of seaweeds as primary producers in coastal marine communities, their functional morphology and their interactions with other members of the marine community (e.g., role in food webs and as habitat). Lab and field exercises will include introduction to selected analytical gear (e.g., dissolved oxygen meters, nutrient analysis, and simple data loggers for temperature and light).

Photo: Dr. Tom Mumford

3. Quantitative analysis of the distributions and abundances of seaweed populations will be investigated with a combination of lectures and field and lab exercises. Emphasis will be placed on study designs, sampling procedures, methods of data analysis, and data interpretation. Students will obtain experience with different field methods of sampling seaweeds and with handling and analyzing population and community data. Various approaches for analyzing assemblage or community data will be discussed and supported by computer sessions with relevant software. Practical applications such as the design of monitoring programs at multiple scales will be addressed; prior statistical knowledge is not a prerequisite.
4. Methods for cultivation of seaweeds will be investigated for use at laboratory to commercial scale as a tool to elucidate algal life histories, growth patterns and rates, physiological responses, ecosystem mesocosm experiments, and for production of food and chemicals.
This is a course appropriate for marine biologists, botanists and oceanographers with interests in marine biodiversity, conservation biology, and coastal ecology with an emphasis on primary producers. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates students (juniors, seniors) are encouraged to apply.

For additional information, contact Bob Waaland or Tom Mumford.



Comparative Invertebrate Embryology

Session A June 9 - July 12, 2008
5 weeks: M-F 8-5; S 8-12
Biol 536 (9 credits)

Dr. Richard Strathmann and Dr. Sally Leys

This course provides extensive hands-on laboratory experience with the fertilization and development of diverse animals. Phyla represented usually include the Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Platyhelminthes, Nemertea, Mollusca, Annelida, Brachiopoda, Phoronida, Bryozoa, Echinodermata, Chordata, Chaetognatha, and Arthropoda.

In addition to the basics of invertebrate reproduction and development, lectures will also include analysis of morphogenetic processes, evolutionary changes in development, and functional consequences of different modes of development. Although the majority of lab time will be devoted to observing and drawing embryos, lecture and lab practice will also introduce various techniques. Field collecting trips to diverse habitats will acquaint students with the environments in which reproduction and development occur and diverse sources of embryos.

The course is intended to serve both marine biologists who wish to understand diversity in modes of development for ecological and evolutionary studies and developmental biologists who wish to broaden their knowledge of embryos because of the resurgent interest in the evolution of developmental mechanisms.

Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

For additional information, contact or



Session A June 9 - July 12, 2008
5 weeks: M-F 8-5; S 8-12
Biology 533 (9 credits)

Dr. Emily Carrington, Dr. Mark Denny, and Dr. John Gosline

This course uses an engineering perspective to evaluate the mechanical design of marine organisms. We will broadly study the mechanics of "fluids and solids" in order to develop an understanding of the diversity of ways organisms construct materials, organize body plans, and interact with their physical environment and other organisms. The course will include lecture, laboratory, and field activities focused around two major themes:  

1) Ecomechanics.  Organisms must perform within the constraints of their physical environment.  How have environmental parameters guided the evolution of organismal form and function and how will future shifts in climate (temperature, water motion, ocean acidification, etc.) affect ecological performance? 

2) Biomaterials.  Material scientists are increasingly looking to nature for inspiration in the design of high performance materials, such as the strong underwater adhesives of barnacles, the tough durable tethers of mussels, and the fracture resistance of snail shells.  How many other marine biomaterials could be considered “high performing”? To date, relatively few marine biomaterials have been adequately characterized; the rich diversity of flora and fauna in the San Juan Islands will undoubtedly provide for novel observations. 

Enrollment is limited to 12 students.

For additional information, contact,, or



SUMMER Session B 2008

For information, contact FHL Student Coordinator Stacy Markman.

The 5-week courses in summer are intended primarily for graduate students, with the exception of Marine Invertebrate Zoology. Courses may be taken sequentially, i.e., one in each summer session, but not concurrently. Well-qualified undergraduates may be admitted to graduate level courses with the consent of the Director and the faculty involved.


Marine Invertebrate Zoology

Session B July 14 to August 16, 2008
5 weeks: M-F 8-5; S 8-12
Biology 432 (9 credits)

Dr. Mar Wonham and Dr. Molly Jacobs

Comparative biology of marine invertebrate animals, focusing on morphology, natural history, functional biology, life history, and evolutionary relationships. Two daily lectures will provide overviews of the major and many smaller phyla, but the heart of the course comprises study of living animals in the laboratory and fieldwork in the diverse marine habitats surrounding San Juan Island.

Graduate students will receive enrollment preference but well qualified undergraduates are also encouraged to apply. Prior coursework in invertebrate biology or animal diversity is advisable but not essential. Enrollment is limited to 16 students. For additional information, contact or


Evolution and Development of the Metazoans

Session B July 14 to August 16, 2008
5 weeks: M-F 8-5; S 8-12
Biology 533 (9 credits)

Dr. Billie Swalla and Dr. Ken Halanych

Our understanding of metazoan relationships has been changing, as molecular phylogenies have been constructed and refined. Our new understanding of metazoan relationships allow new hypotheses to be constructed about how body plans have evolved. Advances in Developmental Biology have shown that the metazoans use similar signaling molecules and transcription factors during development in order to elaborate particular morphologies. The cloning and expression of these homologous genes in different organisms allows one to make predictions about how evolutionary processes work during embryonic development.


Photo: Aaron Cheng

Additionally, rapid advances in genomic sciences have allowed researchers to start unlocking the mysteries of development and organismal evolution in novel ways. One of the objectives of this course will be to introduce students (i.e., future researchers) to the technological and theoretical potential of genomic tools on marine organisms. However, this course will differ from other evolution of development courses in that it will stress a stronger understanding of organismal and comparative biology.

Enrollment limited to 12 students.

For additional information, contact or


(Cancelled) Oceans and Life on Planets: Remote Exploration of Seafloor Microbial Activities

Session B July 14 to August 16, 2008
5 weeks: M-F 8-5; S 8-12
Ocean 578 (9 credits)

Dr. Woody Sullivan, Dr. Jody Deming, Dr. Laurenz Thomsen, Dr. Dirk de Beer

This course is inspired by the new field of Astrobiology, which can be defined as the study of life in a cosmic context. An exciting aspect of Astrobiology for oceanographers and marine biologists is that other oceans exist in our solar system, at present (as on Europa, a moon of Jupiter) and in the past (as on Mars). The course is thus designed to take knowledge of marine biology on this planet – especially marine microbiology in environments defined by strong chemical and/or thermal gradients – and extend it beyond Earth. The first goal is to explore, via classroom lectures, readings, discussion and debate, the relationships between (a) microbial life as we know it, particularly across marine gradients, (b) the early and contemporary ocean on Earth, (c) past and present oceans on other planets and moons, and (d) the possibilities for life in the environmental gradients inherent to those extraterrestrial oceans. The second goal is to give students direct experience in controlling and gathering data from state-of-the-art robots operating in real-time on the floors of Puget Sound and the Baltic Sea; this type of remote exploration is not unlike that of planetary missions controlled from Earth. In the spirit of the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology, this course is open to graduate students studying in the fields of oceanography and/or microbiology, as well as to other graduate students in the sciences and engineering who wish to have an intensive experience broadening their expertise.

The first goal will be achieved largely through lectures and activities contributed by Sullivan and Deming and guest lecturers, who will first present the larger astrobiological context: e.g., water and other constituents of the Cosmos; history of the solar system; types of planets; history of Earth’s oceans; evidence for oceans in the solar system, past & present (e.g., Mars, Europa, Enceladus). Then follows details of today’s marine microbial communities, especially those in environments defined by strong chemical and/or thermal gradients.
Thomsen (Jacobs University, Bremen) enables the course’s second goal, given his recent successful development and deployments of remotely controlled seafloor vehicles called Crawlers. Current crawlers can be equipped with sensors measuring CTD, oxygen, methane, turbidity, fluorometer, Schlieren-camera, HDTV observation cameras and benthic chambers. For teaching purposes, one crawler will be shipped to FHL and equipped with different scientific payloads. It will be deployed with a 100 m-long internet/power cable from FHL and/or the FHL vessel, and controlled via Internet. Students will learn to carry out surveys at the selected deployment locations, create environment maps of the study sites, use GIS technologies to visualize the data on parameter and location, and verify results via standard sampling and observational techniques (sediment corers and cameras). Under the guidance of de Beer, students will equip one payload of the crawler with microsensors and design experiments to detect microbial activity, in the lab and in situ.

Image showing a 60 mile cross section of earth's surface with miles of ice covering the ocean.

Additional Crawler research will be conducted at the VENUS site of NEPTUNE Canada, located ~40 km NW of FHL in Saanich Inlet at a water depth of 100 m (see At this site another Crawler from Jacobs University will be in operation by the time of the FHL course. A third crawler, deployed at a shallow water environment in the Baltic Sea where fluid seepage and benthic storms occur on a regular basis, will allow students to work remotely and “in the blind,” i.e., to test their ability to interpret incoming data from an unknown site. A possible outcome of the Crawler aspects of this course could be a practical evaluation of the merits of establishing a semi-permanent cabled seafloor facility close to FHL.

In support of the Crawler studies and to link remote seafloor exploration with possible life elsewhere in the solar system, students will then investigate the metabolic products of various types of mat-forming and gradient-dwelling microbial communities in extreme settings created in the laboratory or identified at accessible sites on the island. Organic-rich (and thus oxygen-deprived) mud flat areas on the island that experience tidal flushing, with concomitant “wetting” and dessication of microbial mats (creating hypersaline mats), can provide ideal settings for such studies. Other student projects, led by Deming together with de Beer, will involve the study of microbes in chemical gradients within frozen environments (given that extraterrestrial oceans are icy) that nevertheless contain enough interior liquid (via freeze-point--depressing salts or organics) to support life. Students will gain first-hand experience with state-of-the-art sensor/micro-electrode technology for measuring microbial activities in the laboratory and field under such extreme conditions. They will also learn selected molecular biological techniques for evaluating types of microbes present, or shifts in their composition across gradients in time and space.

Enrollment limited to 12 students.

For additional information, e-mail

See the FHL Student Cost webpage for additional information.


(for undergraduates or post-baccalaureates)

There will be two research apprenticeship opportunities in Autumn 2008 (September 22-December 6). For research apprenticeship descriptions and information go to Undergraduate Research Apprenticeships.

Independent Study for UW Graduate Students

During all quarters, graduate students may register for research with the consent of their faculty advisors.

600 Independent Study or Research

700 Master's Thesis

800 Doctoral Dissertation


2007 Courses 

2006 Courses 

2005 Courses

2004 Courses