Sean Todd

Sean Todd
Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies
Director of Allied Whale
207-801-5725 | | faculty website

sean toddSean Todd teaches biology and marine science at COA. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maine in Orono. He earned his B.Sc. in Marine Biology and Oceanography at the University College of North Wales, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biopsychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. At COA Sean serves as part of the marine science faculty, and believes strongly in placing students in the field environment to provide the best possible experiential education. This includes numerous field trips on the ocean and visits to the Colleges offshore islands.

As a researcher, Sean is involved in several projects as a principal investigator. Studies include: photo-identification and biopsy of finback and humpback whales, working at sites that vary from the remote field site of Mount Desert Rock, located 25 miles offshore in the Gulf of Maine, to the Antarctic Peninsula; bioacoustic assessments of whale-shipstrike interactions; and examinations of baleen whale and pinniped foraging ecology using stable isotopes. He is also the director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Response Program at College of the Atlantic.

Much of Sean's background is in the field of fishery-marine mammal interactions. He spent 10 years in Newfoundland as part of the Whale Disentanglement team, a group that releases large entangled whales from fishing gear. In Maine he is trained as part of a first response team that performs a similar function, coordinated by the Center for Coastal Studies, and regularly consults with the federal and state governments on disentanglement activities. He has worked on several projects that successfully designed alarms for fishing gear that reduce marine mammal entanglements. Sean also serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of both the American Cetacean Society and The Marine Environmental Research Institute.

B.Sc. University College of North Wales, UK
M.Sc. Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland
Ph.D. Biopsychology, Memorial University, 1998

Sean holds the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Studies
The Steven K. Katona Chair advances research and monitoring work in the field of marine studies. The Katona Chair was established in 2006 upon Steve Katona’s retirement as College of the Atlantic’s fourth president. The chair honors his 34-year commitment to the College as a scientist, faculty member, founder of Allied Whale, and COA president. The Katona Chair is awarded to a faculty member who has made valuable contributions to her or his discipline in the field of marine studies and who is dedicated to the spirit of College of the Atlantic.

Courses Taught

ES4014Advanced Analysis in Biology

This course builds on Basic Research Design and Analysis in Biology, introducing more advanced statistical techniques within the field of parametric statistics, in particular multiple regression and advanced forms of analysis of variance used in biologically oriented studies. Labs will focus on computer assisted statistical analysis, and reporting style. Evaluation is based on two quizzes, several choices of take-home problems, and a team project. Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisite: Basic Research Design and Analysis in Biology, or permission of instructor. Lab fee $40  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES1010Biology I

This is the first half of a 20-week, two-term introductory course in biology, providing an overview of the discipline and prerequisite for many intermediate and advanced biology courses.  The course provides an integrative view of the attributes of plants and animals, including cell biology, physiology, reproduction, genetics and evolution, growth and differentiation, anatomy, behavior, and environmental interactions.  Weekly laboratory sessions or field trips augment material covered in lecture and discussion.  Attendance at three lectures and one lab each week is required; course evaluation is based on quality of class participation, exams, problem sets, preparation of a lab notebook, and a written term paper. 

Level: Introductory.  Prerequisites: College-level algebra (by course, assessment,) or signature of instructors, chemistry helpful.  Lab fee: $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES1036Biology II: Form and Function

This is the second half of a 20-week, two-term introductory course in biology, providing an overview of the discipline and prerequisite for many intermediate and advanced biology courses. The course further explores topics introduced in Biology I, with a particular emphasis on biological structures and their role in the survival and reproduction of organisms. We will explore principles of evolution, classification, anatomy and physiology, epidemiology, behavior, and basic ecology. The primary focus of the course is on vertebrate animals and vascular plants, but we will make forays into other phylogenetic lineages at intervals. Weekly field and laboratory studies introduce students to the local range of habitats and a broad array of protists, plants, and animals. Attendance at two lectures and one lab each week is required; course evaluation is based on class participation, exams, preparation of a lab notebook, and a mid-term presentation.

Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Completion of Bio I with a grade of C or higher, or a score 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the IB Biology HL exam, or permission of instructor. Offered every year. Lab fee $40. Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES383Fisheries and Their Management

Humans have exploited the biotic resources of the ocean for thousands of years. Although early harvesting probably had minimal ecological and population impact, increased exploitation due to increasing market demand and technological advances have placed significant stress on many of the world's "fisheries". Those exploited species that have thus far avoided becoming commercially or biologically extinct, are, in many cases, threatened by collapse due to over-fishing. This course examines the exploitation of biotic resources in the oceans, including invertebrates, fish, and marine mammal populations. Importantly, it also examines the fishing techniques, fisheries technology and management of fisheries, and critiques and reviews the development of the mathematical modeling on which management is based. The class will be offered in seminar style, with students involved in the discussion and critique of readings, and researching and presenting various case histories. Students will be evaluated on the basis of participation and quality of presentations and term projects. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 12. Prerequisite: Signature of the instructor, by demonstration of competence in QR and ES disciplines. Course fee: $60. *ES*

ES1022Introduction to Oceanography

Planet Earth is misnamed. Seawater covers approximately 70% of the planet's surface, in one giant all-connected ocean. This ocean has a profound effect on the planet's climate, chemistry, ecosystem, and energy resources. Billions of years ago life began there, in what now we regard as the last unexplored frontier of this planet.  In this course we examine the various disciplines within oceanography, including aspects of geology and sedimentology, chemical, dynamic and biological oceanography. The course concludes with an introduction to marine ecosystems examined at various trophic levels, including phyto/zooplankton, fish and other macrofauna. Fieldwork (weather dependent) includes trips on RV Indigo, trips to intertidal and estuarine ecosystems, and possible visits to the college's islands, Mount Desert Rock and Great Duck Island. Evaluation will be by lab, quizzes and a final paper.

Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $150. Class limit: 20. Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES2012Introduction to Statistics and Research Design

This course introduces the basics of statistical analysis that can be used in either a scientific or a social science frame of reference.  While this course teaches you to perform both nonparametric and simple parametric analysis both by hand and computer, an emphasis will be placed on understanding the principles and assumptions of each test, rather than mathematical ability per se.  We will also learn how to report statistical results in journal format, and there will be plenty of lab time to sharpen skills.  Evaluation is based on lab participation, three quizzes, and a team project.  

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites:  A college mathematics course, or signature of the instructor.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $40.  Meets the following degree requirements: QR

MD1010Islands Through Time

14,000 years of Human Ecology on the Coast of Maine
The coast of Maine is an ideal location for studies of the effects of changing ecologies, landscapes, and cultures on the human experience. 14000 years ago, the entire area was covered with a dense ice sheet, and at present we are facing the uncertain future of Global Warming. Between these points, the coast and islands have experienced flood, fire, earthquakes, and an enormous range of human and non-human occupants. This team-taught course will use the inter-disciplinary lens of Human Ecology to examine the consequences, implications, and potential meanings of our dwelling within both this particular landscape and other landscapes perhaps initially more familiar to students. A strong emphasis will be placed upon developing a "sense of place" through the examination of a novel, scientific writing, music, and experiential venturing upon the land and seas, learning about the history, culture, ecology, oceanography and geology of the Maine coastline, both in and by the ocean. Although a substantial element of each day's work will take the form of field trips, students will also be responsible for readings, attending a series of lectures by faculty and local experts, and working with multimedia forms. Interest in music, writing, and ecology are strongly encouraged. Students will be evaluated based on class participation, a daily log of their experiences plus several short "response pieces" to assigned readings, and a multi-media presentation capturing some aspect of their learning. Students will receive narrative evaluations and a grade of CREDIT or NO CREDIT.

Level:  Introductory.  Prerequisites: Signature of Instructor.

ES2030Marine Mammal Biology I

This course provides an introduction to the biology and natural history of marine mammals, specializing in species resident within the North Atlantic.  Topics covered include: phylogeny and taxonomy; anatomy and physiology; behavior; sensory ecology; and management/conservation issues.  The course includes field trips to observe animals in their natural habitat, dissection of specimens, and exposure to the professional peer review field. Students are expected to complete two individual literature-based reviews, one species- and one system-based, to be presented in class.  Assessment is based on class participation, presentations as well as written submissions. Lab fee covers costs of field trips, including potential boat and field station time, and optional travel to a regional conference during the term.  Offered every other year.

Level:  Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisite: Biology I, II and a writing-focused class or permission of instructor. Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $200.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES3060Marine Mammal Biology I: Field Studies

This Fall course provides an introduction to the biology and natural history of marine mammals, specializing in species resident within the North Atlantic, in a field setting.  Students spend the last two weeks in August of the preceding summer at the College's Mt. Desert Rock Marine Research Station. In addition to introductory topics in marine mammal biology that include phylogeny and taxonomy; anatomy and physiology; behavior; sensory ecology; and management/conservation issues, students also integrate themselves into the resident research team and work on team projects that will include observation of animals in their natural habitat. In the Fall, students meet 3-4 further times for dissection of specimens, team project presentations, and optional attendance at a regional conference. Assessment is based on two individual literature-based reviews, one species- and one system-based, to be presented in class, participation in research projects, and written submissions of their research. Lab fee covers costs of field trips, including boat and field station time, and conference costs. A $200 nonrefundable deposit is required by June 1.  Offered every other year.

Level:  Intermediate.  Prerequisite: Biology I, II and a writing-focused class or permission of instructor.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: $500.  Meets the following degree requirements: ES

ES373Marine Mammals and Sound

This advanced seminar class examines the role of sound in the biology of marine mammals. We start with an examination of the behavior of sound underwater, covering concepts that include sound production, propagation and reception, SONAR equations, and noise. We continue with a review of how marine mammals, with a specific focus on cetaceans, use sound to communicate, sense and orient within their environment. We conclude with a bioacoustic examination of specific management problems in marine mammal science. Topics covered in this final part will include, but will not be limited to: marine mammal fishery interactions, shipstrikes, effects of industrial noise, whale song and dialects, baleen whale orientation, and marine mammal strandings. Classes will be run in seminar style, reading intensive, with students responsible for leading discussions and topics. Evaluation is by class participation, two term papers and (possibly) a class project. Although no lab period is set for this class, students are expected to invest some time outside of class for the purpose of possible class projects. Level: Advanced. Class limit: 5-10 students. Lab fee $100. *ES*

HS2049Marvelous Terrible Place: Human Ecology of Newfoundland

Where is the largest population of humpback whales in the world, the largest caribou herd in North America, the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, and Paleozoic water bottled for consumption? The remote Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador presents a stunning landscape, an astoundingly rich ecological setting, and a tragic history of poverty amidst an incredible natural resource, the northern cod fishery, that was ultimately destroyed. The province has been alternately invaded or occupied by different groups of Native Americans along with Norseman, Basques, French, British, and the U.S. military, because of its strategic location and rich fishing and hunting grounds. One of the first and one of the last British colonies, this richest of fisheries produced a very class based society, composed of a wealthy few urban merchants and an highly exploited population of fishing families often living on the edge of survival. But within the past 50 years, Newfoundland society has been forced to evolve. The provincial government looks towards oil and mineral exploitation to turn around the economy, while ex-fishermen consider eco- and cultural tourism with growing ambivalence. This then is our setting, and background, for an intense examination of the human ecology of this province; the relationship between humans and their environment, sometimes successful, sometimes otherwise, the struggle between the tenuous grasp of civilization and this marvelous, terrible place. To do this we will discuss various readings, examine case studies and review the natural and human history of this unique province.  Our learning will culminate with a two-week trip to Newfoundland to examine its issues firsthand.  Evaluation will be based on class and field trip participation, responses to reading questions, a field journal, and a final project.

Level:  Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites:  Signature of Instructor.  Lab fee:  $850.  Class limit 15  Meets the following degree requirements: HS

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