The outer limits of SMS research shift frequently based on research results and new research approaches both at SMS and in other marine institutions worldwide. Collaborations also form and shift. At any one moment, an SMS investigator may be helping a terrestrial or freshwater researcher in Maine or Chile because of a recent advance in methodology. In the next month that flow of expertise might be reversed or moved to China. Where advances will take place is less predictable than that they will be exploited more broadly than one person could imagine. The best way to gain an appreciation for these outer limits is to visit individual SMS web pages.
Core research areas shift more slowly and central issues are therefore more easily plumbed. Marine biologists ask fundamental questions about how individual organisms and their physiologies and organ systems operate. Issues include sensory biology, reproduction, toxicity and basic ecology. Biological oceanographers put these organisms into the context of physical, chemical and geological processes. Physical, chemical and geological oceanographers develop understanding of processes that move mass and momentum and that transform its liquid, solid, granular and multiphasic forms and chemistries.
To give a few, non-exhaustive ideas of marine areas in which UMaine has particular concentrations of faculty, we describe some research clusters.