ANNOUNCEMENT: THE MSI will grow to the Marine and Coastal Opportunities (MACO) program!

January 17th, 2024
From the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, subject Transitioning Marine Studies Initiative (MSI)

Dear Colleagues:

The Marine Studies Initiative (MSI) has been underway at OSU since 2016. With many collaborators, it has helped us achieve a great deal. We now have:

  • A hub for university-wide engagement that hosts workshops and other activities to advance transdisciplinary exchange and scholarship on marine and coastal issues.
  • An interdisciplinary social sciences-based undergraduate marine studies degree in the College of Liberal Arts, with 90+ majors and counting.
  • A state-of-the-art 70,000-square-foot Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building with laboratory, office, classroom, auditorium, and innovation spaces.
  • A 34,000-square-foot housing project scheduled for completion in 2025 that will accommodate students and visiting professionals studying or working at HMSC.
  • New experiential learning options based at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, with greatly increased enrollments in summer, fall, winter and spring.
  • New collaborators supporting summer internships at multiple locations along the Oregon coast.
  • An OSU-owned field station in Port Orford, supporting studies of gray whale ecology, kelp forest health, and other topics.

With this robust mix of projects and activities, some now managed by other units at OSU, I have decided MSI will transition from a catalyst initiative to a permanent academic support program called the Marine and Coastal Opportunities (MACO) program. Dr. Kristen Milligan, who has served as MSI associate director for the past seven years, will direct MACO, reporting under the Office of Academic Affairs alongside other university experiential learning programs.

Dr. Jack Barth, who has led MSI since its inception, has agreed to serve as a special advisor on marine issues through this June to help us with the transition, before stepping fully back into his role as professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Jack’s leadership has been essential to MSI’s success, lessons from which are informing our aspirations for transdisciplinary research and teaching under OSU’s new strategic plan. I am grateful for his outstanding work. I would also like to thank Dr. Milligan, Dr. Bob Cowen, and many others who contributed to making MSI a success.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Edward Feser

Provost and Executive Vice President

Our Mission

Create a healthy future for our ocean and the planet through transdisciplinary research and teaching that emphasizes collaboration, experiential learning, engagement with society and problem solving.

Advancing excellence in marine-related education, research, and outreach and engagement.

The world's ocean belongs to everyone and its health is critical to our future. The world is increasingly looking toward the ocean to provide food, renewable energy, climate impact mitigation, safe shipping and commerce, as well as for recreation and spiritual renewal. However, marine habitats are facing new and daunting pressures that threaten their sustainability — from climate change to pollution to dwindling fish stocks.

Building on a deep history of nationally ranked programs, world-leading research, and premier facilities, the Marine Studies Initiative is pioneering new research and teaching models to help sustain healthy ocean and coasts to ensure wellness, environmental health, and economic prosperity for future generations. The Marine Studies Initiative is a university-wide commitment that will have local to global impacts on the economy and environment.

New Study from Port Orford Field Station: Sea urchins driving gray whales from Oregon

Gray whales are some of the most popular and well-studied animals on the rugged Oregon Coast. A recent study done by OSU's Marine Mammal Institute at Port Orford Field Station is opening our eyes to the unique ecosystem interactions between these gentle giants and bottom-dwelling sea urchins. As a prime example of a trophic cascade, the work being done by Lisa Hildebrand and her team at the Station is allowing us to better understand Oregon's flourishing marine environments.

Read the full article.

Photo Credit to Venti Views from Unsplash

This 10-year initiative builds on Oregon State's leadership and nationally ranked programs.

Harnessing the collective expertise of faculty and staff from across campus, we are advancing practices and innovations that promote positive change for the university and the community it serves. We are weaving together the natural and social sciences with arts and humanities in an exceptional education, research, and outreach program to explore all facets of the marine environment and its dynamic connections to terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere, while positively impacting economic and social progress. Learn more from our Strategic Plan.

OSU at the Oregon coast

Oregon offers an unparalleled living-learning laboratory with diverse ecosystems, including a 300-mile coastline. Our centers of research on the Oregon Coast include: 

We have expanded and enhanced facilities to provide environments that encourage creative collaborations, leverage the university's strengths, and have meaningful impacts. This includes the new Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. 


Through its Marine Studies Initiative, Oregon State will be recognized as a global leader in 21st-century transdisciplinary education and research and lead the development of inclusive strategies for successful stewardship of our ocean and planet for today and tomorrow.

Marine Studies Announcements, Events, and News

Proud moment: Graduate research assistant Hannah Sawyer says, “This is postdoc Dawn Barlow of the Marine Mammal Institute showing a rare version of one of her published manuscripts: the paper version in a printed journal. Specifically, this is her paper, Temporal occurrence of three blue whale populations in New Zealand waters from passive acoustic monitoring, published in Journal of Mammalogy. Additionally, the cover picture of the printed journal is from her paper as well. Great moment.”

  Check out the full series in the new short film, "The Wind Moves Us"

    Learn about the Marine Degrees OSU offers

  Learn about studying at the Oregon Coast!