The oceanography program at Oregon State University is among the best in the world, with faculty and students at the forefront of exploring, understanding and protecting this vast, vital resource. Research in this arena spans physical oceanography, paleooceanography, nearshore science, elemental cycles and food webs, land-sea interaction and more, emphasizing the linkages among biological, chemical, physical and human systems. This diversity provides opportunities to break down traditional disciplinary boundaries and explore new lines of inquiry.

Learn more about areas of research distinction in our oceanography program.

The study of elemental cycling allows us to unravel the regulation of biological productivity, dynamics of Earth's climate and chemical history, the geological record, and more.

Our faculty also investigate marine biota from the scale of organisms to ecosystems, including bacteria, phytoplankton and zooplankton ecology; egg, larval and juvenile survival in marine organisms; population dynamics of commercial fish species; and the role of the physical environment in determining species distributions. Tools range from microscopic and biochemical analysis to global scale remote sensing and modeling.

Affiliated faculty: Andrew Barnard, Kim Bernard, Kristen Buck, Lorenzo Ciannelli, Rick Colwell, Byron Crump, Jennifer Fehrenbacher, Jessica Garwood, Laurie Juranek, Maria Kavanaugh, Astrid Leitner, Ricardo LetelierErin McParland, Clare Reimers, Alyssa Shiel, Yvette Spitz, and Andrew Thurber

Researchers in this area are at the forefront of examining the effects of human activities on a variety of Earth's ecosystems and associated processes during the current geological age, such as pollution emissions, ocean acidification and eutrophication. They use a diversity of techniques, including ship and laboratory measurements, remote sensing, modeling and sustained ocean observing systems.

Affiliated faculty: Rick Colwell, Byron Crump, Laurie JuranekErin McParland, Andreas Schmittner, Alyssa Shiel, Andrew Thurber, and George Waldbusser.

Researchers in this area study the processes that transport sediments from the continents to the oceans, the dynamics of the rich and diverse ecosystems thriving at the land-sea interface, and monitoring and modeling of the linkages between human activities and marine resources.

Affiliated faculty: Byron Crump, Emily Eidam, Miguel Goñi, Burke Hales, Jim Lerczak, and Yvette Spitz

This group studies the nearshore, the narrow edge of the ocean where ocean hazards intersect with human populations and coastal ecosystems. This strongly interdisciplinary work includes studies of the fluid dynamics of nearshore waves and currents as they propagate onto sedimentary coastlines, the erosive response of the coasts to those forces, and the familiar coastal morphologies that result from these interactions.

Affiliated faculty: Rob Holman, Merrick Haller,Tuba Özkan-Haller, Peter Ruggiero, and Greg Wilson

The interdisciplinary paleoclimatology and paleoceanography program at Oregon State is among the world's best. Faculty explore a range of compelling research topics, including reconstructing atmospheric trace gas histories and climate change in ice cores; developing and using proxies for reconstructing ocean circulation, temperature, and chemistry; using micropaleontological, isotopic, and geochemical approaches to paleoscience; and examining the paleoclimate record to test and calibrate models in order to predict future change.

Affiliated faculty: Ed Brook, Christo Buizert, Peter Clark, Jennifer Fehrenbacher, Alan Mix, Andreas Schmittner, Joe Stoner, Mo Walczak, and Kathleen Wendt

Our physical oceanographers study the physical forces and processes that operate in the world’s oceans, including tides, waves, currents and the ocean's role in Earth's climate system. Our work includes the study of physical processes acting across the ocean boundaries at the sea floor, coast, and sea surface — from scales of millimeters and seconds to global circulations at scales of thousands of kilometers and centuries or longer.


  • turbulence and ocean mixing
  • internal waves and nonlinear dynamics
  • coastal processes
  • climate and large-scale dynamics
  • physical/biological interactions
  • numerical modelling and techniques
  • instrumentation development
  • in-situ and remote-sensing ocean observations in the Oregon coastal region and across the globe

Affiliated faculty: Andrew Barnard, Jack Barth, Simon de Szoeke, Edward Dever, Melanie Fewings, Jonathan Fram, Jessica Garwood, Jennifer Hutchings, Michael Kosro, Jim Lerczak, Ricardo Matano, James Moum, Jonathan Nash, Larry O'Neill, Tuba Özkan-Haller, Brodie Pearson, Roger Samelson, Andreas Schmittner, Kipp Shearman, Emily Shroyer, Eric Skyllingstad, William Smyth, Yvette Spitz, Greg Wilson, Ed Zaron, and Seth Zippel

The Marine Resource Management (MRM) program is a science-based, interdisciplinary master's program focused on marine science and policy. The program prepares tomorrow’s leaders to tackle problems threatening our oceans, including climate change, overfishing, pollution and more. Faculty associated with the MRM program come from CEOAS and across the university, and study everything from fisheries to coastal hazards to invasive species to renewable energy.

Affiliated faculty