Reef Semester in the Florida Keys

Spring 2020

Dive in to an exciting and breathtaking Spring Semester in Florida’s own spectacular Keys!

Click here to check out the program flyer!

During the Spring semester 2020, students will study with JU Biology & Marine Science faculty, Dr. Dan McCarthy, for an integrated and hands on semester away experience. This unique semester program will be based on Summerland Key, in collaboration with the new Mote International Center for Coral Reef Research.  In addition to coursework, assignments and exams,  students will have the opportunity to:

  • Work in a laboratory with live animals and plants
  • Visit major reefs & ecosystems throughout the length of the Keys
  • Work with coral transplants

Courses will also include guest lectures by professionals from Mote, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Keys Marine Sanctuary, and The Nature Conservancy, among others.

Whether you are an aspiring Marine Scientist or simply passionate about Florida marine flora and fauna, this program is one for you.  Space is limited to 8 students.


  • Successful completion of Intro to Marine Science or Intro to Biology/Environmental Science course(s)
  • Consent from the Instructor
  • Capable of moderate level of water activities (swimming/snorkeling)
  • SCUBA certification not required, but preferred

Courses (4 credits each)

MSC 430: Coral Reef Conservation & Restoration – required course

MSC/BIOL 302: Invertebrate Zoology

MSC 310WR: Marine Ecology

Marine Predator-Prey Ecology (new additional course)

Weekly Class Schedule (subject to change)


Faculty Instructors

Dr. Dan McCarthy is a Professor of Biology and Marine Scientist at Jacksonville University.  He is a highly experienced marine benthic ecologist.  He has years of experiences conducting manipulative and mensurative field experiments with a variety of marine fauna and flora in multiple habitat types within the United States and abroad.  For over 12 years, he has been taking undergraduate and graduate student groups to the Florida Keys teaching various ecological techniques.  He is currently conducting research in the lower Florida Keys to investigate the influence of fish grazing in affecting coral restoration efforts.



Dr. Robert Nowicki is a postdoctoral research fellow at MOTE. His research interests are broad and include understanding how predators influence their surroundings, how biological interactions can degrade or bolster the resilience of ecosystems, and how such interactions are influenced by climate change.






The entire program will be conducted at the new, state of the art, Mote International Center for Coral Reef Research at Summerland Key.  On-site, students will reside in the residence hall and have access to laboratory and class space allowing for immediate access to an active research program and coral reef sites for education and research—essentially a living classroom.



  • JU Credit (12 credits)
  • Transportation to/from Florida Keys
  • Housing in residence hall at Mote Laboratory
  • Medical & Accident Insurance
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Program related excursions
  • 24 hour on-site support
  • On-site orientation

Not Included

  • Meals
  • Snorkeling Gear (to be supplied by students)

Check out the video below to see the ongoing research happening at the new Mote International Center for Coral Reef Research.