For under­grad­uate stu­dents, the oppor­tu­nity to work side-​​by-​​side with leading fac­ulty researchers can be a life-​​changing expe­ri­ence. So what is it like for stu­dents to spend day in and day out, living and working with top researchers for months at a time?

Ask any of the par­tic­i­pants of the Three Seas Pro­gram at North­eastern. Now in its twenty-​​sixth year, the pro­gram enables stu­dents to study and con­duct research in three diverse envi­ron­ments with many of the world’s leading marine scientists.

Run by the Marine Sci­ence Center (MSC) at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, grad­uate and under­grad­uate stu­dents spend the fall semester at the MSC in Nahant, Mass­a­chu­setts. In the winter they move on to Moorea, French Poly­nesia for three months, fol­lowed by a two-​​month stint in the spring on San Juan Island, Washington.

Being located at field sta­tions allows stu­dents and instruc­tors to seam­lessly move between lec­ture, lab, and the field— often sev­eral times each day,” noted Sal Gen­ovese, director of the Three Seas Pro­gram. “The live-​​work envi­ron­ment enables stu­dents to develop true col­le­gial rela­tion­ships with the fac­ulty and immerse them­selves in research in ways that are not pos­sible in tra­di­tional class­room and lab­o­ra­tory settings.”

John Hanmer, a senior biology major who par­tic­i­pated in the Three Seas Pro­gram last year, said the pro­gram “actu­ally shows you what a career in marine sci­ence will be like—something that reg­ular classes can’t do.

The work I did with other researchers was invalu­able for my future career. Not only did I learn how to best con­duct research, we also dis­cussed the steps I needed to take to fur­ther my edu­ca­tion in marine biology.”

Rochelle Devault agreed that the expe­ri­ence was some­thing that could not be cap­tured in a class­room and that the inter­ac­tion with active researchers throughout the pro­gram was inte­gral to its value.

I have always been inter­ested in marine sci­ence, but I was looking to get real expe­ri­ence,” said Devault, who grad­u­ated this Jan­uary with a degree in biology. “As an under­grad­uate, Three Seas pro­vided me with rare oppor­tu­ni­ties to com­bine research, lab, and field work.”

The pro­gram is taught by marine biol­o­gists from leading research insti­tu­tions, including North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, Brown Uni­ver­sity, Scripps Insti­tute of Oceanog­raphy, and Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia cam­puses at Berkeley, Santa Bar­bara and Santa Cruz. These sci­en­tists have strong, well-​​funded research pro­grams, and their con­nec­tion with the Three Seas Pro­gram pro­vides stu­dents with access to a first-​​rate net­work of researchers within the marine sci­ence community.

Sev­eral researchers from North­eastern who work with the stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gram as stu­dents them­selves, including Gen­ovese and assis­tant pro­fessor of biology Steven Vollmer.