Student-Originated Studies (SOS): Biology of Sharks and Rays

Winter 2020
Class Size: 10
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

ecology, vertebrate biology

This Student-Originated Studies (SOS) program will give students the opportunity to do intermediate or advanced work in vertebrate biology with a focus on the biology of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays). Weekly lectures during the first half of the quarter will familiarize students with the physiology, ecology, evolutionary history, and husbandry of sharks and rays. Students will seminar on several texts over the quarter that focus on the challenges of researching sharks in the field and keeping them in captivity. Over an intensive week in the middle of the quarter, students will study the anatomy and physiology of elasmobranchs in a series of anatomy labs.

Students taking the program for 12 credits will do an independent research project on a topic of their choice around elasmobranch conservation or husbandry and will be expected to do in-depth research in the primary literature to support this project. There will be time for students who want to do a project on elasmobranch husbandry to visit an aquarium of their choice to study the captive environment and the behavior of the animals in that environment.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

vertebrate biology, ichthyology, and aquarium husbandry.


Credits per quarter


At least 8 credits of college-level organismal biology or ecology.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

Students who do their research project at an aquarium are responsible for their own aquarium entrance fee and travel costs

Upper division science credit:

Up to 8 credits of upper division science credit will be awarded in vertebrate biology, elasmobranch biology, and elasmobranch husbandry or conservation upon completion of all coursework.  An additional 4 credits may be awarded for an independent research project.

Class Standing: Junior–Senior
Class Size: 10

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - 10:00 am
LAB 1 2046 - Class Lab

Located in: Olympia