The Academic Programs (2001-2008)

At the Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology, students build a solid foundation in marine biology by exploring coastal ecosystems and engaging in scientific investigation.


Students form
13 nations participated in the programs.


Courses included Tropical Marine Ecology, Organism Biology, Research Methodology, and Resource Conservation. Based on this multifaceted approach, students learned field-research techniques which they applied during excursions throughout the island. Students thus contributed to our knowledge of Caribbean marine flora and fauna, assisted in the conservation of these resources in Dominica, and several careers in biological sciences were jump-started.
   Key Program Features

experiential learning! ...learn by doing...
study abroad on a Caribbean island
live at a biological field station
get intensive exposure to marine life
learn to conserve resources and biodiversity
gain interdisciplinary perspectives
do research, diving excursions/expeditions
follow issue-driven courses and curricula
enjoy small class size and hands-on training
provide environmental data (your field work)
present findings to government and NGOs
earn college credit
chose 12-week semester program
4-week summer program

   The ITME Semester Program   (16 credits, 300 level)
 Academics Applied to Research, Conservation & Outreach!

The semester program was a 12-week program starting in September. Participants took 4 intensive courses and engaged in a variety of research activities. Field trips and research were carried out throughout the island's diverse marine habitats. Findings were compiled in the form of reports, disseminated via various media, and incorporated into the Institute's wide array of community outreach projects.

identifying marine organisms
in preparation for research training

Courses of the Semester Program

• ITME AC302 Principles of Tropical Marine Ecology (4 credit h)
• ITME AC301 Nat. Hist. & Identification of Marine Organisms (4 credit h)
• ITME AC303 Marine Resource Conservation (4 credit h)
• ITME AC304 Marine Research Methodology (4 credit h)

* We spend 50% of the instruction time outdoors / in the sea. *


The semester program was a demanding multidisciplinary hands-on experience, during which students developed research skills and made their scientific contribution to the understanding of marine ecosystems in Dominica and beyond. For many, this program became a stepping stone towards graduate school and a career in environmental sciences.
This program was aimed at persons considering a career in an environmental discipline, marine biology, conservation, research, and/or being better equipped for graduate school in similar fields.

understanding marine habitas may

require exploring terrestrial environments

   The ITME Summer Program    (5 credits, 300 level)
Environmental Learning Experiences Full of Adventure!

The 4-week summer program started every June. Participants learned by doing. Engaged in a variety of field laboratories and spending many hours in the sea, students completed a comprehensive course in marine biology. Conservation issues were discussed with resources users and managers such as fishermen, agro-processors, and policy makers. Field excursions are carried out throughout the island.

students surveying finging reefs

Courses of the Summer Program

• ITME AC305 Tropical Marine Ecology & Conservation (4 credit h)
ITME AC306 Caribbean Issues of Marine Resource Use (1 credit h)

* We spend 50% of the instruction time outdoors / in the sea. *


The summer program provided a thorough exposure to marine ecology and conservation issues of the Caribbean, for students unable to leave their home institutions for an entire semester. Students traveled to and explored a variety of marine ecosystems around the island to complement classes and field laboratories.

This program was aimed at persons interested in spending the summer on a lush Caribbean island, while exploring the environmental fields of marine biology and conservation.

We didn't forget the fun. Long days of data collection and studying marine life deserved relaxing breaks.

   Admission Criteria


General Requirements


The Institute's academic programs are geared towards students interested in biological or environmental science, particularly in field-based research and conservation. Curricula expose participants to various aspects of science, from training and research to conservation and policy, while remaining firmly anchored in biological disciplines.

We are thus seeking curious, committed students with a thirst for learning, and the maturity and personal initiative to work independently as well as in a group. Participants should embrace the challenges of working outdoors, be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances, and make use of this unique educational opportunity. Applicants should exhibit enthusiasm, compassion, flexibility, as well as a willingness to put the needs of the group ahead of his/her own when necessary.

Before completing your application for admission, carefully consider the fact that this experience will likely be very different from your academic experience to date. You will be working long hours, often feel physically and mentally drained from the field work and academic demands, and be expected to fully participate in all aspects of group-living at a biological field station. You will be further expected to adhere to the rules and regulations of student conduct presented during orientation.

ALL STUDENTS MUST BE GOOD SWIMMERS AND DEMONSTRATE COMFORT IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT. SCUBA diving is not a requirement for the courses. If and when appropriate, SCUBA may be applied in field research. Students who want to have this option must be certified prior to attending the courses. Every student should bring his/her own snorkeling/diving gear.
Academic Requirements

ITME requires one year of college-level biology or environmental studies as an academic prerequisite.

Applicants from Dominica and the Eastern Caribbean should have successfully completed CXC examinations in Biology, and must have taken one year of college-level (A) biology.

Applications from high school graduates who can demonstrate (transcripts) a strong academic aptitude towards natural sciences will be considered for admission to the Summer program only.
Every application submitted to ITME (Admissions Committee) must include:

1) completed application form
2) résumé
3) names and addresses of 3 references
4) official transcript from home institution
5) personal statement
6) US $ 150.00 nonrefundable application fee

   Courses & Topics
All ITME courses are filled with interesting and adventurous excursions.
The unique marine habitats surrounding the island are our "visual aids".
Lecture and Laboratory Courses
Principles of Tropical Marine Ecology: ITME AC 302 (Semester) 4 credits
Principles of Tropical Marine Ecology focuses on the community structure, nutrient cycles, and energy flow of tropical marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, sea grass beds, and mangrove forests. The physical and biological oceanography of the greater Caribbean, principles of marine biology, and systems ecology form the basis for a detailed account and comparison of supra-, inter- and sub-tidal marine habitats. Field laboratories and excursions will provide ample opportunities for students to examine each of the marine ecosystems covered in this course, firsthand. Biological productivity, food webs, population dynamics, pollution, and disturbance (natural versus anthropogenic) are interpreted with reference to human use of marine resources.
Course meets for 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of field labs each week.

Natural History & Identification of Marine Organisms: ITME AC 301 (Semester) 4 credits
Natural History and Identification of Marine Organisms covers functional morphology, behavior, and identification of organisms from tropical marine habitats. Emphasis is placed on marine vascular plants, benthic and pelagic inshore macro-fauna and flora. Some planktonic and interstitial microorganisms will also be examined. Students apply basic methods/techniques of field observation, data collection, and record keeping, in an inquiry-driven approach to marine field-biology, specifically to habitat descriptions.
Course meets for 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of field labs each week.

Marine Research Methodology & Practicum: ITME AC 303 (Semester) 4 credits
This course introduces students to project design, proposal writing, sampling techniques, data collection, data analysis and scientific writing. Students develop and carry out independent research projects and participate in ongoing research in conjunction with their regular course work.
Course meets for 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of field labs each week.

Marine Resource Conservation: ITME AC 304 (Semester) 4 credits

Marine Resource Conservation introduces the fundamental concepts in resource management and socio-economics relevant to the conservation of natural resources of the Caribbean. Emphasis is placed on issues peculiar to small island nations. It addresses environmental policy issues affecting the management of Dominica's marine resources. The course also outlines opportunities for economic development based on marine environments.
Course meets for 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of field labs each week.

Tropical Marine Ecology & Conservation: ITME AC 305 (Summer) 4 credits
Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation analyzes the relationship between marine ecology and resource management. The ecology of marine ecosystems forms the foundation for an interdisciplinary examination of coastal conservation issues in the Caribbean. Economic and social requirements for environmental conservation will be introduced to the students, who then outline potential conservation strategies. Extensive field surveys provide students with an experiential approach to marine biology. Organized interactions with people dependent on marine resources enhance the student's exposure to issues of marine conservation.
Course meets for 9 hours of lecture and 9 hours of field laboratory each week..

Caribbean Issues Marine Resource Management: ITME AC 306 (Summer) 1 credit

Forum for presentations and discussions led by staff, students, and guest speakers. Offered in conjunction with AC 305, this course engages students in identifying and analyzing key issues of environmental conservation in Dominica. Backed by their field observations and laboratories, student's write expository term papers on principle issue of marine resource conservation of the island.
Course meets for 6 hours of lecture each week.
Research Assistantships (Upon demand by faculty only!)
Volunteer Research Assistantship - Standard: ITME AC 201

ITME offers a limited number of basic research assistantships upon requests from staff scientists. These are volunteer positions, and candidates must cover all transportation costs to and from Dominica, as well as room and board services in Dominica. Requirements include a minimum of 2 years of biological sciences and good water skills. Specific requirements depend on the specific research assistantship.
Contact for availability.
Successful completion of the assistantships will be certified in writing by ITME (ITME certificate and recommendation letter).

Volunteer Research Assistantship - Advanced: ITME AC 401

ITME offers a limited number of advanced research assistantships upon requests from staff scientists. These are volunteer positions and candidates must cover all transportation costs to and from Dominica. However, 50 - 100 % of the room and board services in Dominica will be covered by ITME. Requirements include an undergraduate degree in biological sciences, good water skills, computer skills, and field research experience. Specific requirements depend on the specific research assistantship.
Contact for availability.
Successful completion of the assistantships will be certified in writing by ITME (ITME certificate and recommendation letter).

   Faculty & Staff
Marine Biology/Ecology, Natural History of Marine Organisms
Dr. Sascha C.C. Steiner

Resident Faculty - Marine Biologist - Chief Executive Officer of ITME

Dr. Steiner has been working in the greater Caribbean region since 1984. His research has so far focused on the reproduction and systematics of reef corals, coral reef community structure, and various aspects of coral reef monitoring including the assessments of bleaching episodes, diseases, D. antillarum and algal cover. Dr. Steiner has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at universities around the world. In 1999 he founded the Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology (ITME) in Dominica and he has served as its CEO since then. Dr. Steiner teaches Marine Ecology and lectures in other courses.
In 2001 Dr. Steiner was appointed to serve on the Dominica's National Climate Change Committee by Dominica's Minister of Agriculture. Since then he has assumed positions in many other government sponsored initiatives and NGOs
Dr. Jill L. Borger

Visiting Adjunct Faculty - Marine Biologist

Dr. Borger is an expert on coral diseases and is currently monitoring disease manifestations and distribution in Dominica and the Florida Keys, but her work has also brought her to the Turks and Caicos Islands and Panama. She teaches Natural History and Identification of Marine Organisms. Dr. Borger has recently also started working with dophins, has lauched FINSEA.ORG, and teaches at the University of Miami.

Dr. Stacey M. Williams

Visiting Adjunct Faculty, Program Coordinator

Ms. Williams completed the ITME Fall Program in 2001, and earned her Bachelor's degree in Science from Spring Hill College (AL, USA) in 2002. During her time at ITME, she focused her research on the quantification of the sea urchin D. antillarum. She then continued studying sea urchins in the Gulf of Mexico, and more recently at the Darling Marine Center in Maine. Stacey returned to ITME to teach Natural History of Marine Organisms, and coordinate field laboratories as well as the logistics of field operations during the Fall 2002. In the Spring of 2003 she held a Research Assistantship at ITME. After teaching the Summer and Fall terms in 2003, Stacey served as Program Coordinator.

Dr. Demian A. Willette

Visiting Adjunct Faculty, Student Projects Coordinator, Lecturer, Field Instructor.

Mr. Willette completed the ITME Fall program in 2001. As Founder and President of the Marine Biology Club at Iowa State University , Ames, he has been involved in many exciting projects in the US and the Caribbean. After graduating from Iowa State U in Spring 2003, he returned to ITME to teach Natural History of Marine Organisms.

Kim L. McDonald

Interim Field Station Director, Lecturer, Field Instructor.

After completing the semester program at ITME in 2003, Ms. McDonald graduated from her home institution, University of Washington. Kim brought with her a variety of field experiences, such as working on oil tankers / drilling platforms and in fisheries research, which made her an perfect addition to the ITME staff. Ms. McDonald lectures in Organism Biology and Ecology, and is currently coordinating all field operations during the academic programs. After serving as Program Coordinator during 20004 and 2005, she assumed the Director's position at the field station.

Teaching and Research Assistants

Lori Price (Fall 2008)

Teaching/Research Assistant, Lecturer, Field Instructor.
Lori was part of the 2007 Fall Research Team during which large-scale habitat mapping was carried out throughout Dominica's coastal waters. She is a graduate of Messiah College and has research experience in algal blooms (VIMS, VI) and ichthyoplankton (Dauphin Island AL)

Keira Macfarlane (Fall 2008)

Teaching/Research Assistant, Lecturer, Field Instructor.
Keira was also a member of the Fall 2007 Research Team. She grdauted from the University of Western Ontario.
Resource Conservation, Resource Use in Dominica
Dr. Lennox Honychurch

Resident Adjunct Faculty - Anthropologist

Dr. Honychurch has written definitive texts on the history of Dominica and its peoples. His publications are based on many years of archeological, anthropological, as well as biological research. While continuing to explore the origins and the development of Dominican cultures and the utilization of natural resources, Dr. Honeychurch is deeply committed to his birthplace. He has served as a member of the House of Assembly from 1975-1979 and was involved in negotiations for the island's independence in 1978. Dr. Honychurch is the principal lecturer in Resource Conservation and also holds a post at the University of the West Indies' campus in Dominica.

Resource Conservation - Lecturers

Dr. David Lang
Geologist, Founder &, Director of ESPOIR (NGO)

Harold Guiste
Chief Fisheries Officer, Ministry of Agriculture & Environment, Gov. of Dominica.
Algernon Philbert
Senior Fisheries Officer, Ministry of Agriculture & Environment, Gov. of Dominica.
Norman Norris
Fisheries Officer, Ministry of Agriculture & Environment, Gov. of Dominica.
Arlington James
Forestry Officer, Ministry of Agriculture & Environment, Gov. of Dominica
Raphael Joseph
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Ministry of Health, Gov. of Dominica
John Robin
Founder and CEO of Benjo's Seamoss and Agroprocessing
Terry Raymond
Coordinator Youth Environmental Service Corps, Ministry of Education, Gov. of Dominica
John Kirby
Horticulturist - JK Enterprises, Castelton Estate
Nancy Osler MS
Plant Ecologist, Resident Scientist ARTEC, Springfield
Board of Academic Advisors

Dr. A. Antonius, University of Vienna, Austria.
Dr. J. Cortés, CIMAR, University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica.

Dr. J. Nebelsick, University of Tübingen, Germany.
Dr. P. Mumby, University of Exeter, Exeter Devon EX4 4PS UK.
Dr. B. Riegl, Natl. Coral Reef Institute, Nova U, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, U.S.A.
Dr. K. Rützler, CCRE, NMNH, Smithsonian Inst., Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Dr. A. Szmant, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, NC, U.S.A.

Admissions and Student Affairs (NEW YORK OFFICE, USA)

Mary L. Akers

Director of Admissions and Student Affairs
Mrs. Akers has worked in the field of counseling and administration since 1990. Before joining ITME in 1998, she held positions in the Florida Keys, Hawaii, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. She worked as Field Associate for The Center for Marine Resource Studies, TCI, and managed a fly/dive charter business in Honolulu. Mrs. Akers is the first contact for most ITME applicants. Based at the Institute's USA Office (NY), she guides students and visiting researchers through the application and enrollment process. When ever possible, Mrs. Akers resides on site during the programs and serves as student liaison.
Site Operations

Chrystel J. Steiner

Room and Board
Mrs. Steiner coordinates the day-to-day supplies-chain for ITME's room and board services provided to program participants, researchers and visiting university groups.
Margaret-Rose Dafoe - Meal Services/ Housekeeping
Cecelia Henry - Meal Services
Mornel Allan -Meal Services
Bennett Senhouse - Transportation
Norman Timpthy - Physical Plant
Vessel Based Marine Operations

Harald Zahn and Beatrice Cantera

SCUBA Diving & Boat Operations
Mr. Zahn and Mrs. Cantera are the owners and operators of the East Carib Dive Center (ECDC). ITME has established a close relationship with the Center. Most of ITME's vessel-based excursions and field labs are facilitated in collaboration with ECDC. Harald and Beatrice worked in the Maldives and Red Sea for several years before moving to Dominica.
   Earning Credit
Upon successful completion of the program you will receive:
  • The ITME Grade Transcript including a detailed breakdown of your performance (16 credits/Semester Program, 5 credits/Summer Program) valid only with the Certificate of Participation.
  • The ITME Certificate of Participation.
  • Both of these must be complimented by items such as:
    lecture notes, (2) log books, (3) exams (4) project proposals, (5) research reports, (6) press-releases or other publications etc. as direct evidence of your active completion of the program. A closer relation with your home institution can also be developed so that you and future students from your school can easily receive credits upon successful completion of the ITME courses.

ITME is a private, tertiary level, research/education institution, registered by the Government of the the Commonwealth of Dominica. While some universities and colleges accept ITME's official transcripts, others have alliterative mechanisms that allow students to obtain credit for study-abroad programs, especially intensive applied biology courses. These are often called "independent study" courses. If you are going to take the courses for credit, you must arrange this through your professor or academic advisor and university. We recommend you do this prior to coming to Dominica.

Students that have taken the ITME courses for credit came from a variety of geographic regions including:

Arizona State U. AZ USA
Auburn Univ. AL USA
Barry Univ. FL USA
Boise State Univ. ID USA
Cal Poli CA USA
Denison Univ. OH USA
Denver Univ. CO USA
Earlham College IN USA
Eastern Michigan Univ. MI USA
Eastern New Mexico Univ. NM USA
Gustavus College MN USA
Howard Univ. DC USA
Iowa State Univ. IA USA
LaFayette Coll PA USA
Mountain State Univ. WV USA
Northern Arizona Univ. AZ USA
Salisbury University MD USA
Spring Hill College AL USA
St. Francis Univ. PA USA

SUNY Syracuse NY USA
Tulane Univ. LA USA
Univ. California - St. Barbara CA USA
Univ. of Lousiana Lafayette LA USA

Univ. of Kentuky KY USA
Univ. Texas at Austin TX USA
Univ of Washington WA USA
Univ. of West Florida FL USA
Vanderbilt Univ. TN USA
Wesleyan Univ. CT USA
Whitman College WA USA
Whittier College CA USA
Winona State Univ. MN USA
University of Wisconsin, WI USA

Univ. of Toronto CANADA
Regina University CANADA
Youth Environmental Service Corps DOMINICA
Univ. Politecnica delle Marche ITALY

Univ. Autonoma de Mexico MEXICO
Agricultural University of NORWAY
Anglia Poytechn Univ. UNITED KINGDOM
Newcastle Univ. UNITED KINGDOM
U. of Aberdeen, Kings College UNITED KINGDOM

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