Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography
Opportunity status:
Centre of Excellence
Open until
Open until funds are fully allocated
Expected to open December 2024


The Centre of Excellence training program is divided into six learning modules, with multidisciplinary approaches and cross-cutting skills developed throughout the program.

In addition to the modules, scholars work on an independent learning project related to ocean carbon, eDNA, or coastal resilience, throughout the training program, mentored by a domestic or international professional that informs a knowledge mobilization aspect to ensure scholars are effectively trained in the communication and delivery of their scientific knowledge.

While this independent learning project does not need to be a specific research project, it requires some basic research skills to be employed, building on the knowledge gained in the core modules.

Administered through the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development, the courses listed below have associated microcredentials, or similar recognition, reflecting the skills and knowledge gained throughout this course in a manner that is internationally recognized by employers. Scholars receive tangible benefits in addition to the prestige that is associated with the POGO program and the network that is unlocked through their participation.

Oversight of the program is provided by the curriculum committee, with direction from the international observing community.

List of modules*

* subject to change

Pre-Module: Orientation

Arriving at the first location, the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada, the first week of the program is devoted to ensuring the scholars are settled, connected, and confident in their new home. Activities include social events, health and safety training, campus tours and orientation activities.

Module 1: Core Oceanography Courses

All Core Oceanography courses are delivered by the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland with field excursions to their numerous observing facilities.

  • Oceanography
    This course is designed to introduce the scholars to the physical principles that create oceanographic processes and to provide an integrated view of the whole field of oceanography. A theoretical introduction to the equipment used in ocean research is provided. Key areas of study within this course include Introduction to Oceanography; Physical Properties of the Ocean; Chemical Properties of the Ocean; Biological Properties of the Ocean; Atmospheric Effects; Currents; Waves; Tides.
  • Applied Oceanography
    This course examines the application of technology in oceanographic activities like scientific exploration, hydrography, and ocean observation. Students gain a basic understanding of both physical oceanography and nautical science. Marine acoustic, geophysical and operational technologies are also addressed. Continual emphasis is placed on safety and responsibility in marine environments.
  • Ocean Observation
    This course is designed to introduce the scholars to the purpose, operation, data analysis, and maintenance of a range of meteorological and oceanographic instruments. Scholars are introduced to the physical principles used in meteorological and oceanographic instrumentation. This includes cruise planning; data gathering at sea using moored, towed, and casted instruments; siting and configuration of surface instruments; remote and directly read instruments; the physical principles and the limitations of instruments used to make upper-air measurements; and laboratory exercises involving preliminary data analysis and presentation.

Module 2: Research in the field

All Module 2 courses are delivered by the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland with field excursions to their numerous observing facilities and ship time on various research vessels within their fleet.

  • Remote Sensing
    This course provides the scholars with a background in ocean remote sensing practices and applications. The course is taught using modern equipment and methodologies, allowing the student to better understand the uses of remote sensing in the extraction of marine/oceanic parameters. It combines both theoretical and practical methods to reach the major objectives of the course.
  • Field Course in Ocean Mapping
    This course represents a comprehensive, multidisciplinary ocean mapping field project. The nature and context of this course provides the scholars with an immersive experience through the practical application of all the theoretical components and practical skillsets within a real-world context. Scholars demonstrate, evaluate and assess the complete plan-to-chart workflow through surveying planning, mobilization and sensor integration, field deployment, data acquisition, data processing, data analysis, data management and product dissemination.
  • Training at Sea
    After completion of introductory technical and safety training, scholars embark onboard a research vessel to apply their newly acquired hands-on knowledge, test their skills, and collect samples. Opportunities for research lab visits and experiences in diverse sampling environments are available to the scholars.
Researchers deploying a wave gliderResearchers on the open waterResearchers on a board overlooking an iceberg

Module 3: Ocean Data Management

All Module 3 courses are delivered by Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia through the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development, the Department of Information Science in the Faculty of Management, DeepSense in the Faculty of Computer Science and CIOOS, housed and supported by Dalhousie and the Ocean Frontier Institute.

  • Ocean Data Literacy
    Pulling from expertise in the Department of Information Science and CIOOS Atlantic, this topic introduces the scholars to finding, using and citing ocean data; documenting and depositing ocean data in a public repository; tools and supports for managing ocean data internally; managing protected and private data; cybersecurity; and effective communication of data. Additional topics may be introduced. Hands-on activities involve data associated with their previous field work.
  • Data Analytics
    To support a better understanding of the value and opportunity of data, this course leverages data explored during previous modules. Topics include the cleaning, processing and interpretation of acoustic data, bathymetric data, AIS/GIS data, and social media text data (relevant to the ocean) to understand the broad range of analysis, interpretation, and visualizations across data types. Through a combination of data from fieldwork with other datasets, participants compete in a short hackathon to drive collaboration among participants and the broader Nova Scotian community, fostering idea generation and innovation data applications. Where possible, scholars will engage with industry partners of DeepSense and CIOOS to explore industry applications of ocean data.

Module 4: Modelling & Coding

All Module 4 courses are delivered by Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia through the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development, the Department of Information Science in the Faculty of Management, DeepSense in the Faculty of Computer Science and CIOOS, housed and supported by Dalhousie and the Ocean Frontier Institute.

  • Discover Coding
    The course was developed for people from science disciplines who have no previous experience with a programming language. Scholars are taught the basics of coding using Python and R, popular languages used in science and data science. The focus is on learning the fundamentals of the coding language and programming logic and using the programming language for data science, including reading data; manipulating/processing data (e.g., extracting specific data, splitting data according to variables, applying functions, combining data); continuation of data analysis; and basic statistical analyses of data sets.
  • Data Modelling
    Following coding principles, participants are exposed to a breadth of modelling exercises, ranging from theoretical models to complex machine learning. A critical component of this module is the understanding that complex models are not always superior. The ability to interpret and explain models and predictions are of the greatest value in ocean data.

Module 5: Beyond the Lab

Module 5 topics take the scholars beyond the science and show them how to talk about it for impact. The topics covered in this module are taught across locations and by various organizations, providing diverse insight.

  • Science Communication
    Delivered by the Hakai Institute and the Hakai Magazine, this course begins while scholars are still at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University, focusing on the theoretical aspects of science communication virtually that will later be built upon while during the scholar’s stay at the Quadra Island Ecological Observatory in British Columbia. Scholars are trained in different aspects of communication specific to their interests, including blog writing, social media, media training and videography. This course supports the science communication deliverable for the scholar’s independent learning project and presents significant opportunities for networking and mentorship.
  • Presentation Skills Training
    Scholars are trained on the development and execution of an effective presentation for a wide variety of audiences, including academics, industry, government, and the public.
  • Dalhousie Innovates Training Program with the Ocean Data Challenge
    Tapping into the strong innovation ecosystem in Halifax, this program provides scholars with theoretical and hands-on training for how design thinking and innovation can lead to science or technology-based solutions for real world problems. Scholars have opportunities to interact with innovators and entrepreneurs within the region. The course also includes an ocean data challenge where the scholars are presented with a real-world issue related to the program themes and come up with a solution. They are required to pitch their solutions to a panel of external judges, helping them build on their presentation and communication skills and grow their network.
  • English for Oceanography
    This course lays the foundation for academic success in Oceanography studies via development of academic literacies and language skills. In this seminar-style course, students develop the ability to use academic English flexibly, in spoken and written modes, according to the norms of the language practices in the field of Oceanography. NOTE: This course is delivered virtually by Dalhousie at the beginning of the program while scholars are at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University.
  • Immersive Learning Experience at the Hakai Institute
    Quadra Island Ecological Observatory provides a transformative immersive learning experience for scholars. They spend time at the Quadra Island Ecological Observatory, building on the knowledge developed in the program, accompanying Hakai oceanographers on their weekly field sampling. The scholars participate in a variety of activities at the observatory, including the real-time monitoring of ocean CO2, DNA sequencing, plankton tows and fjords observations.

Module 6: Ocean and the Social Sciences

Module 6 topics touch on additional disciplines and perspectives and are delivered by the Ocean Frontier Institute and the IOI-Canada in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  • Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training
    The Ocean Frontier Institute provides scholars access to its online training platform for the training program, The Path: Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada. The program provides learning opportunities that delve into First Nations, Inuit, and Métis histories and stories across Canada, and partially meets the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action for Canadians to receive ‘cultural competency training’ by teaching about “the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. Additionally, scholars will learn about and from Indigenous groups at the three locations visited during the program.
  • Ocean Governance
    Policy, Law and Management: Adapted from a highly successful training program that has run for over 30 years, this course explores key issues in three core areas of ocean governance -- Law of the Sea, State of the Ocean, and Fisheries, Aquaculture and Food Security -- through a combination of lectures, discussions, videos and readings. Lecturers from NGOs and government are brought in to ensure scholars obtain a holistic understanding of ocean governance from a wide range of perspectives.