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Maymester in Jamaica

Ecology of Coral Reefs

This course is designed to highlight the organization, structure, productivity and biological diversity of the coral reef ecosystem, with special attention to the ecosystem's sensitivity to environmental and anthropogenic disturbances.  This course is implemented as a "research travel" opportunity for marine science majors/minors.

Preliminary Itinerary:


Location/Types of Activities

May 12, 2013

Travel to Discovery Bay

May 13-14, 2013

Group dive & finding research sites

May 15, 2013

Field Trip: Dunn’s River Falls

May 16-18, 2013

Research & observational dives, lectures and discussions

May 19, 2013

Field trip:Rio Bueno

May 20, 2013

Research & observational dives

May 21, 2013

Research & night dive

May 22, 2013

Discussion of reef models-integrated functions

May 23, 2013

Field trip: Ocho Rios or Negril

May 24-25, 2013

Research & observational dives, group dive, night dive

May 26, 2013

Data analysis and graphics

May 27, 2013

Group dive & Dairy Bull project

May 28, 2013

Free day & group dive

May 29, 2013

Travel to Myrtle Beach

Meet The Program Leaders

Erin J. Burge
E-Mail: eburge@coastal.edu
Phone: 843-349-6491

Erin Burge, Ph.D., is an associate professor of marine science. His research interests include environmental immunology, molecular physiology, and molecular biology of marine invertebrates and fishes. His background is in applying molecular and cellular techniques to field-oriented problems in an ecological context. At Coastal Carolina University, Burge has participated in projects ranging from using underwater videos to study grouper populations, using molecular identification tools to detect parasites and evaluating ecological changes on Caribbean coral reefs. He has been involved with teaching the Jamaica coral ecology course since 2007. For more information, visit his faculty page.

Eric Koepfler
E-Mail: eric@coastal.edu
Phone: 843-349-2222

Eric Koepfler, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Marine Science.  He obtained his Ph.D. from William and Mary in 1989, and has been teaching at Coastal Carolina University since 1991.  He is a founding member of the CCU Million Dollar Club, having received $1.6 million in funding for undergraduate research from NSF, NOAA, NASA, and SC Sea Grant. Koepfler has been involved in teaching coral reef ecology in Jamaica since 1992, and biology of sea turtles in Costa Rica since 2006.  His research interests include coral reef water quality and coral, macroalgae and herbivore interactions.  Sea turtle research involves nest site selections, nest microclimate and hatchling orientation.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When is the deadline for application?

The priority deadline for this program is Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.  The general application deadline is Nov. 30, 2012, but some programs may be full by this deadline and so applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

How do I apply for the program?

Applications for all short term study abroad programs must be submitted via the online link at: https://www.coastal.edu/academics/international/studyabroad/application/. Each complete application will include personal contact information, health form and participation fitness certification, acceptance of the terms of the study abroad agreement, statement of purpose, and copy of your transcript, along with a deposit of $500 toward the cost of the respective program paid to Student Accounts. Should you not be accepted for the program, your deposit will be returned to you; otherwise your deposit will be applied to program costs. The priority deadline for submitting a complete application is Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.

How many slots are available for the 2013 trip?

18-20 slots are available.  There are two alternate spots (one female and one male).

When will I know if I was selected?

Before Christmas, but we hope to have the selections made by Thanksgiving.

What are the criteria for selection?

1. Class rank.  Seniors will get priority because they will not have another chance to apply.
2. GPA.  The higher the better.  This can be more important than class rank in some circumstances (eg: a Senior with a 2.1 and a Junior with a 3.9 and only one slot left).
3. You have applied before.
4. Application date and deposit paid.  The earlier the better.
5. Our "history."  Have we had classes before?  Group cohesion is really important on this trip, and it is important that everyone get along well, and play nice with others.
6. Faculty recommendations.  Dr. Burge does not require one with your application, and the only time it might be desirable to get one is if you've never met him and you think you can only go this year.

Do I have to be SCUBA certified?

No, but what are you going to do the six hours a day we are diving?

Can I do certification dives in Jamaica?

Generally yes, but there are downsides to doing this.
1. There is a fee associated with this payable to the dive instructor.
2. You may have to wait a few days to get it done, meaning that you will potentially miss fun group dives at the beginning of the trip.
3. You will be less experienced.
If at all possible, Dr. Burge highly recommends being SCUBA certified and having completed your checkout dives BEFORE going to Jamaica.

When does this program take place?

This is a Maymester program that takes place May 12 - 29, 2013.

What is the cost of this study abroad program?

The cost of this program is $3,500 and includes:

  • Lodging and almost all meals abroad
  • Air and local transportation
  • Field trips
  • All dive expenses except gear
  • Trip insurance (optional DAN insurance is recommended)

Coastal Carolina University tuition will be billed separately at the rate of $290 per credit hour (6 credits total).

Maymester tuition bills are due May 9, 2013.

When are payments due for the program?


$500 due with application

Second Payment

Dec. 14, 2012 - 1/3 of remaining balance

Third Payment

Jan. 18, 2013- 1/3 of remaining balance

Fourth Payment

Feb. 15, 2013- pay remaining balance

Final Payment – tuition only

May 9, 2013

All payments are to be made to the Office of Student Accounts for credit to the respective study abroad program.  The payment due dates are fixed.  If payments are not received on or before the due dates, students will be dropped from the program.

What is the refund policy?

If after submitting your application and paying the $500 deposit, you are not accepted into the program, your deposit will be refunded.  If Coastal Carolina University finds it necessary to cancel the program, all payments made will be refunded.  Alternates will be chosen from the initial pool of applicants.  If you withdraw from the program and an alternate is willing to take your place, you will recieve a full refund.  After February 1st (or if no alternates are available/willing to enroll), the initial deposit ($500) is non-refundable.  Other program fees (less any expended by the time of withdrawal) will be refunded. 

How many credit hours can I complete during this program?

Six credits

MSCI 477: Ecology of Coral Reefs (3 credits)

MSCI 499: Directed Undergraduate Research (3 credits)

Does this course/program satisfy core curriculum requirements?

Neither of the courses in this program satisfy core curriculum requirements, but they do count for upper level marine science major requirements.

Are there any prerequisites for this study?

Prerequisites include permission of the instructor, successful completion of MSCI 111/111L and MSCI 112/112L, and internationally recognized SCUBA certification (i.e.: NAUI, PADI, SSI etc.). It is strongly recommended that students have also completed MSCI 302/302L. As part of the research portion of this course, students enroll for an additional 3 credit hours of MSCI 499, Directed Undergraduate Research. For exceptional research projects, students are encouraged to adapt their research projects for peer-reviewed publication or inclusion in our collected volume of research, Korallion.

Are scholarships or financial aid available for this program?

The Horry County Higher Education Commission International Awareness Award is available to assist graduates of accredited high schools to participate in these programs.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ACCEPTED INTO A SHORT-TERM STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM TO APPLY FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP. To determine whether you have additional eligibility for financial aid during the summer short term study abroad programs, please see your financial aid counselor in Kingston Hall.  Scholarship applications are due in the Office of International Programs by Nov. 2, 2012. The applications for the scholarship can be accessed here: Horry County Higher Education Commission International Awareness Award, 2012-13   .

Do I need vaccinations to participate?

Coastal Carolina University adheres to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations. There are not currently required vaccinations for travel to Jamaica, but several are recommended. You MUST have a medical examination (no fee if done through Student Health Services) in order to dive in Jamaica. More details will follow if you are selected fro the program. See also the dive physical form http://www.mona.uwi.edu/cms/dive%20medical.pdf.



Vaccination or Disease


Recommendations or Requirements for
   Vaccine-Preventable Diseases



Recommended if
  you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella
  (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus
  vaccine, etc.

Hepatitis A or
  immune globulin (IG)

  for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an
  intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where
  exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis
  A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with
  "standard" tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food
  consumption behaviors.

Hepatitis B 

  for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with
  intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map),
  especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual
  contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment
  (e.g., for an accident).


  for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in the Caribbean,
  especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities,
  villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.

Rabies vaccination is only recommended for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into
direct contact with bats. These travelers include wildlife professionals, researchers, veterinarians, or adventure travelers visiting areas where bats are commonly found.


Areas of Jamaica with Malaria: Rare local cases in Kingston. (more information)

Even if you are visiting an area of Jamaica with malaria (listed above), the risk of malaria is low, and taking an antimalarial drug is not
recommended. However, you should protect yourself from mosquito bites (see below).  To find out more information on malaria throughout the world, you can use the interactive CDC malaria map. You can search or browse countries, cities, and place names for more specific malaria information and the recommended prevention medicines for that area.

Please visit the website http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ for more information.

What are the physical demands of this program?

Participants should be in good physical condition, must be able to swim and snorkel, and must be able to stay in the water for up to an hour.


For More Information, Please Contact:

The Office of International Programs & Services
Geoffrey Parsons, M.Ed.
Director, International Programs & Services
843-349-2054 / parsons@coastal.edu
Singleton Building 119

Lori Patterson, M.P.S.
Coordinator/Advisor, Study Abroad
843-349-2684 / lori@coastal.edu
Singleton Building 119