Marine environmental biology and biological oceanography researchers at USC develop and use the most modern field and analytical laboratory equipment. The laboratories of our faculty are equipped for DNA amplification by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA cloning and sequencing, microarray and other types of gene-expression analyses, physiological measurements, stable isotope and radioisotope studies (mass spectrometer and scintillation counters), phytoplankton and bacterial culture (sterile transfer bench and walk-in constant temperature and cold rooms), analysis of dissolved organic matter at natural levels (High Pressure Liquid Chromatographs), pigment analyses, automated nutrient analyses, modem transmission, and epifluorescent microscopes, plus sophisticated optical instruments for measuring spectral transmission of light and natural fluorescence in the sea.

The program is also expanding facilities for marine geochemical analyses, with plans for a new state-of-the-art trace metal analysis laboratory now underway. Faculty and students also can use the Stable Isotope Laboratory run by the earth sciences department.

Most research labs have powerful personal microcomputers and use a variety of commercial and independently developed software for computation, statistics, graphical presentation, and word processing, plus a full set of oceanographic software for data acquisition and analysis at sea. E-mail services and other computing needs are met by USC’s Information Technology Services division and the USC College Computing Center. Researchers also may take advantage of supercomputers maintained by the university’s Center for High-Performance Computing and Communications.

The USC Science & Engineering Library houses some 85,000 volumes, 70,000 bound journals and 20,000 technical reports in the life sciences, earth sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The library subscribes to more than 600 science journals, the majority of which can be accessed from home or any campus location through the university’s extensive, searchable electronic resources collection.

USC Libraries is home to the Hancock Library of Biology and Oceanography, a collection which includes 105,000 volumes in marine biology; physical, chemical, and biological oceanography; natural history; ecology; paleontology; polar science; and systematics, which is archived and available through interlibrary loan; as well as the 20,000-volume Hancock rare book and serial collection, a noteworthy archive that includes natural history special editions and invaluable oceanographic expedition reports.

In addition, the MEB section enjoys several adjunct research facilities that provide a wide range of research opportunities. Chief among these is the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, which affords facilities for field and laboratory studies, including a facility for experimental culture of marine animals, such as sea urchins, oysters, and white sea bass. USC is a member of the Southern California Marine Institute, a consortium of local universities and colleges, which operates research vessels out of its facilities in San Pedro. The Wrigley Institute keeps its own research vessels at this facility as well. 

  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • University of Southern California
  • Allan Hancock Foundation Building
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371