Due to popular demand among students, a marine biology major is being offered in the science department to students at Florida Southern.

Students interested in this area of study formerly had to take biology classes with a focus in marine studies– however, due to the efforts of Dr. Gabriel Langford, Assistant Professor of Biology, the program could be offered during the 2013 fall 2013 semester.

“I think the primary driver for it was that it’s one of our most asked about majors that we didn’t have, so it’s frequently requested by students, both already here and students interested or recruiting,” Langford said.

In this major, students will gain the opportunity to explore marine life in the ocean and their recommended store for supplies, estuaries, coral reefs and even across campus in Lake Hollingsworth.

“You can see why people ask, because we’re in Florida, within driving distances of both the coasts. We can be out there quickly and we can go and collect organisms and see all these things real easily, so it just makes sense, considering our geographical location, why we could have the major,” Langford said.

According to Langford, the science department plans on offering several different classes, but none have gone through the curriculum committee yet. The department hopes to be able to offer biology of fishes class, amphibians and reptiles class, marine mammal class and oceanography.

His goal to get these classes on “the books” soon, and students out to the Florida coast as much as possible to gain real-world experiences.

“It [marine biology] is kind of an interesting major because you can tailor it to your interests,” Langford said. “If you want to go heavy on the science side or want to go to graduate school, you can take physics or chemistry: you can take all those tough, rigorous biology courses. Or if you didn’t want to do that, if you weren’t so interested in the really hard sciences and you wanted to try to work at Sea World or something with animals as a trainer or caretaker, you can take some more of the psychology classes. The major’s kind of open to that, so that’ll be very good for different student interests.”

Nicole Gallinaro, sophomore, is an example of the type of student who does not want to go heavy on the science side.

Gallinaro really likes the idea of working with animals and is not interested in the very rigorous science courses.

“I’m really interested in this major, I think it would be a lot of fun and different than the regular ‘biology’ major classes,” Gallinaro said. “I’m really excited these types of classes are going to be offered.”

This major will be quickly expanding in the biology department as more classes are added to the course books. Dr. Langford encourages any and all students interested in this area to ask him any questions that they may have.