"This field course was an incredible experience and I would absolutely
recommend it for anyone who is a little short on lab experience, as
well as anyone who is undecided about whether to pursue further
studies in physiology beyond an undergraduate degree. This course can
help synthesize what you have learned in textbooks for 3 years and
gives a real life experience, instead of just looking at diagrams or
pictures on an overhead slide. It can help you truly understand
physiology, instead of just memorizing it for a test, then forgetting
it as soon as the test is over. I feel I have learned more about human
anatomy and physiology in these two weeks than in my previous 3 years
of undergrad, and this wasn't even a human physiology course, it was a
marine mammal physiology course! The small class size really allows
you to get to know the peers and instructor in a way no other
university course allows you to do so. I must commend Dr. Carin
Wittnich for making this course the highlight of my undergrad career
thus far. This course has inspired me to pursue surgery as a career
option. If all university courses were like this, undergrad would be a
much better experience! A truly unique and incredible learning
-- D. 2009
"An invaluable learning experience. I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in anatomy and physiology. The instructor was great."
-- Robert 2008
"OERS F-500 was one of the most exciting and extraordinary courses I have ever taken. It is absolutely invaluable for everyone who would like to learn more about the anatomy of a living organism and the way it works. It provides an amazing opportunity to see the things the way they really are and gain unique hands-on experience in the field of applied physiology. This course and the great attitude and incredible energy of our instructor Dr. Carin Wittnich inspired me in many ways."
-- Svetlana Famina 2008
"This course has been an unforgettable experience. The opportunity for hands-on learning and the ability to see, feel and smell every part of this magnificent animal was incredible. It helped me immensely in learning about the anatomy and abnormalities of the California Sea Lion. The instruction was extremely helpful and we were allowed to dissect whatever we felt while being guided through the necropsy. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone with or without a science background, as the amount that students learn is endless."
-- Student 2007
"I was looking for a taste of "in the field" scientific learning. I got a whole meal. The OERS F500 course was one of the best learning experiences I have encountered. We had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - a necropsy on a 500lb bull sea lion. The chance to work in a small group with instruction from world-class experts, turned out to be two weeks of intense concentration and effort in an atmosphere of amazing team spirit. Yes, at times it got a little messy, but no group of students, ever had more fun. This course is what university learning is meant to be. The OERS team was supportive and challenging in just the right proportion. I would highly recommend giving it a try. It will open your eyes to some fantastic new possibilities."
-- A. 2007
"This course was amazing and thouroughly enjoyable! For anybody with an interest in physiology or just wanting to experience the thrill of dissecting, this course is for you!"
-- Jasdeep 2007
"Coming with an Evolutionary Biology background, I was astonished by how Marine Mammals are well adapted to the harsh environment they live in, and the variety of specific adaptations in each species. I thought I know a lot about Marine Mammals and that I admire their physiological adaptations, but it was only after taking this course that my true admirations arose. The amount of information I learnt in this course was so high that I can talk about different anatomical structures and physiological adaptations very confidently, though I had no anatomy or physiology background before taking this course, except EEB216 (Introduction to Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation)"
"You never know how much you admire something unless you know what it really is all about!! And you cannot appreciate Marine Mammals enough if you don't know much about their structure and how they actually function. I should not forget to mention the amazing feeling you get, when you see the anatomical similarities between them and other mammals (including us!) during dissection procedures, and how we all fit in the picture of life here on Earth: interconnected, interrelated, and all possess a unique and profound characteristic of life that is essential for our survival. I was able to experience this feeling and get a real sense of this thought more than anything in this course."
"I can confidently say that OERS-F500 was the highlight of my undergrad studies; not just because it was a field course, as I have taken other field courses, but because the way this course is structured with friendly, energetic and knowledgeable instructor and staff, who encourage you to bring up questions with no hesitation, and the amount of interesting material that is available for each student to learn, makes the whole experience of taking this course simply unique!"
If there is one suggestion I can give to my colleagues in any program (science or non-science), here at UofT, it would be this:
"Don't graduate without taking OERS-F500 course!!”
-- Siavash Ganjbakhsh 2007
"The OERS summer field course offers an oppertunity of putting what you have learned in textbooks into practice." The anatomy of a California Sea Lion was put into context through seeing, cutting, and feeling. At the end of five full days of dissection, a necropsy report was developed through careful guidance. It encouraged both intellectual thinking, as well as cooperation among participating members. This once in a life time hands-on experience is rare even among veterinary students. But most importantly, it was "bloody" fun. A course strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in marine mammal physiology."
-- Andrew 2007
"I heard about this course (f-500) in a marine biology class Dr. C. Wittnich was lecturing. I became excited about the opportunity that not most courses in biology would offer me. I wanted to take the chance to dissect something that not everyone, everyday could dissect. I wasn’t so inclined at first being afraid of blood and guts but what the hey I did it anyways and it was the greatest experience I’ve ever had in my life!!! I still talk about it till this day to my friend and I’m known is the mighty marine CSI and they think I’m just little bit twisted (cause I tell them how much I enjoyed the class).
We went through every bit and piece of the sea lion from head to toe wasting nothing at all while seeing and learning everything possible from systematic to anatomy to physiology. It’s very memorable and has helped me a lot in understand what textbook pictures couldn’t provide."