One of SoMAS’ paramount objectives is to educate and train students to become the next generation of marine and atmospheric scientists, environmental resource managers, and citizens who possess a fundamental grasp of environmental issues and the choices that society faces in handling these issues.


The first undergraduate degree offered through SoMAS was a minor in marine sciences established in 1988. In 1992, an Oceanography and Environmental Studies track was established in the Multidisciplinary Studies undergraduate degree program. Also in that year, the Marine Sciences Research Center (MSRC) offered its first undergraduate major, as the University’s Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres (ITPA) was transferred to MSRC, bringing with it the Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology BS degree program. Over time, other undergraduate degree programs followed: a BA in Environmental Studies (2001) and a BS in Marine Biology and a BS in Marine Vertebrate Biology (both in 2005). The Environmental Studies major is designed for students anticipating a non-science career but one with a strong environmental bent, e.g., environmental journalism. The Marine Biology and Marine Vertebrate Biology degrees prepare students for a career in the sciences or environmental management. From May 1992 through December 2008, 174 students have graduated from SoMAS with an undergraduate degree.


MSRC’s first graduate degree program, the Marine Environmental Studies Program (MESP), was authorized in April 1970 and produced its first graduate in May 1971. The MESP program was a Masters of Science program designed for practicing professionals and recent college graduates with varied academic backgrounds. Its curriculum offered a strongly interdisciplinary examination of the diverse factors affecting the marine environment and was designed to prepare students for careers in the then-rapidly expanding fields of coastal management, environmental monitoring and protection and resource management. During the 1975-76 academic year, MSRC conducted an internal review of the MESP program. As a result of this review, the program name was changed to “Marine Environmental Sciences Program” and the program’s focus was shifted more towards hard science, with somewhat less emphasis being given to management and specific environmental problem-solving.

In April 1978, the Board of Trustees of the New York State Education Department approved MSRC’s Ph.D. program in coastal oceanography. The following September, the program was approved by New York Governor Hugh Carey. The Ph.D. program graduated its first two students in December, 1981.

In 2007, as MSRC was renamed the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, our graduate programs were re-titled to more properly reflect the unified educational experience within the school that is offered to both marine and atmospheric science students. At present, SoMAS offers both MS and Ph.D. degrees in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, with concentrations in either the marine or atmospheric sciences.

Since 1971, SoMAS graduate programs have produced 697 graduates; 574 received a MS degree, 184 received a Ph.D. and 61 received both degrees.  The alumni profiles below highlight a few of our graduates.


David Conover & MSRC Alumni honor former Dean & Director Jerry Schubel
Alumni Day 2004 at Stony Brook Manhattan

Xiao-Hai Yan, Ph.D. 1989

My marine remote sensing research progress, starting at MSRC, attests to our ability to meet the challenges of marine science’s new frontier and to MSRC’s commitment to educating a new generation of marine scientists.”

Xiao-Hai Yan, Ph.D. 1989
Professor of Oceanography, Co-Director of Center for Remote Sensing
University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies

Greg Marshall (MS, 1988)

Greg Marshall with his crittercam

Greg Marshall with his crittercam

Greg Marshall is the Executive Director and Producer of Remote Imaging at National Geographic Television and Film.  In 1991, Greg began working with National Geographic Television and established the Special Projects Unit, where he developed the technology known as the Crittercam.  The Crittercam is a revolutionary tool that has been used to study the behavior of almost 40 different marine and terrestrial species in their natural habitat.

He has received two Emmy Awards for the National Geographic specials Great White Sharks and Sea Monsters:  Search for the Giant Squid.  Greg also produced the film Tiger Shark and a 13-part series called Crittercam for National Geographic television.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University.  Greg earned his master’s degree (1988) in marine environmental sciences from the Marine Sciences Research Center at Stony Brook University.  His research focused on the factors influencing the burying behavior of juvenile queen conch, Strombus gigas.

Greg Marshall returned to SoMAS in 2017 to help us celebrate our 50th Anniversary as the Akira Okubo Distinguished Scholar.


Gregg J. Rivara (MS, 1985)

rivaraAquaculture specialist Gregg Rivara has a certain affinity for Long Island. He grew up in Queens, received his Bachelor’s degree from Southampton College of Long Island University (now a satellite campus of Stony Brook) in 1982 and, soon after, began his Master’s degree at the Marine Science Research Center (now SoMAS). When he first arrived at MSRC, he had a research assistantship with Dr. Doug Capone and Dr. Ed Carpenter working with bacteria and microalgae, but Gregg’s true passion was shellfish. That’s when he connected with Dr. Robert Malouf, who helped Gregg receive a Sea Grant scholarship to pursue work with hard clams. His Master’s thesis examined how light and flow affect burrowing of very small, recently-set hard clams.
While Gregg was finishing his thesis, a job became available as a grant-funded lab technician at MSRC, so he remained in the family for a few months after finishing in December of 1985. However, Gregg was getting ready to settle down and decided that he needed to find work that wasn’t based on “soft money”. He took his Civil Service test and, in 1986, was hired by the Town of Islip as a Bay Management Specialist. While there, he participated in a variety of tasks, including buoy placement, planting of adult clams in spawner sanctuaries and building a shellfish nursery system in East Islip, which later became the Town’s shellfish hatchery.
However, Gregg’s stay with Islip was a brief one. After less than a year, he signed on as an Aquaculture Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County (CCE). Gregg, still with CCE, is now Director of the Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center. The Center, located at Cedar Beach in Southold, New York – on the North Fork of Long Island – triples as a working shellfish hatchery, an operational base of bivalve and habitat restoration programs and an educational facility. On any given day, Gregg could deal with a very mixed menu of tasks, from tours, to problems keeping the Center’s boats afloat and running, to assisting prospective shellfish farmers with permitting, to planting shellfish as part of an environmental restoration project. Plus, when he runs out of cool things to do, there’s always the administrivia that comes with the job title, “Director”.
Gregg says his education on Long Island, especially at MSRC, helped him make connections that he still uses everyday on the job. “I still keep in touch with many fellow alumni as well as professors and team up with both for grant-funded projects to help my clientele solve problems and help their businesses grow.”

Gene Carl Feldman (MS, 1983; PhD, 1985)

geneGene Carl Feldman is an oceanographer at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.  Currently, he is the project manager of the  mission called SeaWiFS (Sea-Viewing Wide Field Sensor).  Prior to his work with SeaWiFS, Gene worked with the Nimbus-7 Coastal Zone Color Scanner project.

Gene has contributed to many additional programs, including the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study,  Coastal Rhythms Exhibition at the New England Aquarium and the Jason Project. He has participated in several JASON expeditions including the JASON VII expedition when he explored the depths of the sea on board a United States Naval nuclear research submarine.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology at Stony Brook University, he spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa.  Gene worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service and New York Sea Grant before returning to Stony Brook.  Gene received  his master’s degree (1983) in marine environmental sciences and his Ph.D. (1985) in coastal oceanography from the Marine Sciences Center at Stony Brook University.  His doctoral research  focused on satellite observations of phytoplankton variability in the eastern equatorial Pacific.


Craig Allen (BS, 1979)

Craig Allen, third from left, with founding members of SBU Meteorology Club in Spring, 2006

Craig Allen, third from left, with founding members of SBU Meteorology Club in Spring, 2006

 Winner of ITPA Distinguished Alumni Award, October 2001

Meteorologist Craig Allen is the most authoritative weather source in the New York tri-state area. Heading WCBS 880’s weather team and CBS 2’s weekend team, Allen’s reports are accurate and authoritative, his manner warm & friendly.

Craig earned his meteorology degree from Stony Brook University in May of 1979 and became chief meteorologist for WCBS 880 the following Spring. The last 20 years have allowed Craig to form a special bond with WCBS listeners. Hundreds of letters to Newsradio 88 over the years confirm that listeners trust the accuracy of his weather reports.

At age 12, Craig Allen lugged a chalkboard to the kitchen table each night and pretended to be a TV weatherman, delivering a forecast to his family while they ate dinner. Today, audiences hear him deliver TV and radio reports locally and nationally, every weekday morning and weekends when the weather is severe and the need to have the best meteorologist in New York City arises.

It is the perfect occupation for someone who “loves to watch the forces of nature”, so much so that he sometimes leaps into his car “to chase thunderstorms all over Long Island, especially down by the beaches.” What the audience doesn’t know is how frightened he was of thunderstorms as a child. When he was 11, his grandparents gave him some weather instruments and “the fear turned to fascination. Now, I try to share that fascination & enthusiasm with my radio & TV audience.”

Craig’s day is a long one, up by 2:45 and in the weather center no later than 4 AM. His first radio broadcast is at 5:08 AM and on many days the last live forecast is at 6:08 PM. “I go home, eat, play with my son, then it’s off to sleep and next thing I know, the alarm is ringing for another day to begin.”

Unlike many media weather people who are not meteorologists, Craig prepares his own forecasts. He scans the tremendous (sometime overwhelming) amount of atmospheric data and ponders all the possibilities before typing out a forecast which so many people will rely upon… “but remember, there are too many variables surrounding us in this bubble of an atmosphere we call home. The atmosphere follows certain laws and never breaks away from them. We do not know all those laws neither do the computers. I don’t believe forecasting will ever be a perfected science.. but I damn well try my best!”

Despite Craig’s serious outlook, he finds his work to be enthralling. “I love my job. I try to convey my interest in weather to the audience. If there is severe weather. I’ll try not be overly grim but I’ll sure get the sense of urgency across to the listener! And if it is a nice day. I’ll try to make them ‘feel’ the weather; to bring it inside since so many people are indoors looking out the window during their workday”.

Here are some of Craig’s accomplishments over the years:

  • Meteorologist for WCBS880 since 1980
  • Weekend weather anchor for CBS 2 since 1990
  • Earth & Atmospheric Sciences degree, Stony Brook University, 1979
  • Member of American Meteorological Society,
  • Radio Seal of Approval since 1985
  • TV Seal of Approval since 1991
  • Member of Long Island Weather Observers & North Jersey Weather Observers
  • Member of New York Press Club
  • A.F.T.R.A.

What does Craig do in his free time:

“I cherish it by: Sitting outdoors, watching the weather with my son, spending time at the beach, traveling by train and doing all gardening and landscaping around my home”.

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