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The Beat of Marine Education

SDSU Biology Professor, Jeremy Long, uses music to teach local high students about marine life and ecology.
Mar Vista High students used GarageBand to create their marine biology-themed tracks.
Mar Vista High students used GarageBand to create their marine biology-themed tracks.

San Diego State University Professor Jeremy Long is a celebrated marine biologist and researcher, as well as an integral member of the SDSU Coastal and Marine Institute.

But what many people don't know is that Long also possesses a hidden talent: rapping.

Long has led students from Mar Vista High School, located in Imperial Beach, in creating rap-inspired tracks that explore various marine biology concepts.

Fusing music and science

On April 8, Long, decked out in a Red Sox jersey and backwards baseball cap, showcased his rap skills by starting off the session with his parody of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" which explored flatworms and urchins.

It was all part of the Poseidon Academy, a program for Mar Vista High School students. Once admitted into the program, students take a rigorous series of classes emphasizing outdoor education, hands-on learning and technical skills.

Through the academy, Long teaches the students how to integrate music and learning to educate the public in a more fun, engaging way.

"If I inspire students and they create something they're proud of, then I've done my job," Long said.

Selecting the tracks

Students used the Macintosh program GarageBand to create parodies of popular songs.

"Hip-hop is a good medium for this because you don't need to have melody or an extremely good voice," Long said. "We want to make songs that sound good, because if they don't, the public won't respond to it."

The atypical approach was not solely for entertainment, but also caters to different styles of learning.

"It's much easier to remember lyrics to a catchy song than notes from a lecture," said senior chemical ecology major Greg Boecker, a former student of Long's.  Boecker also participated in past rap videos, spearheaded by Long.

More about Long

Long is interested in the relationships between plants and their herbivores and how these interactions shape communities and ecosystems. His research involves the importance of chemical signals to these dynamic interactions using a combination of field and laboratory experiments.

His unique approach utilizes skills in behavioral assays of consumers (planktonic, benthic, and terrestrial), bioassay-guided fractionation of secondary metabolites of algae and invertebrates and mesocosm and field experiments.

Long's interests include marine chemical ecology, consumer-prey interactions, the ecology of planktonic and rocky shore and salt marsh ecosystems.

His favorite rappers are Del the Funky Homosapien and the Emerald City Possee.

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