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Science Diving Program

Scientific Diving Program

The Penn State Scientific Diving Program is an administrative unit functioning under Penn State's Office for Research Protections. The program supervises all compressed gas diving for scientific and educational purposes at Penn State. The program is administered by a Diving Control Board, and the operations of the program are defined by a set of Dive Standards. The Penn State Scientific Diving Program is an Organizational Member of the American Academy of Underwater Scientific (AAUS).

Solely recreational diving operates under the student organization -- Nittany Divers -- and Penn State Adventure Recreation, and adheres to an independent Standard Operating Procedure. Recreational dive courses are also available for credit through the Department of Kinesiology.

How can I participate?

Before you apply for entry into the scientific diver program at Penn State, please review our process to become a certified scientific diver.

Participation in the Penn State Science Diving Program is by application only. The application process includes a signed waiver of liability and requires a medical exam. Medical exams are also required at periodic intervals in order to maintain active diving status. The Dive Medical History Form must be completed each year and submitted to the Science Diving Program.

Participants are also required to submit a log of each dive. The web form can be found here:

Diving Control Board

The Diving Control (safety) Board has autonomous and absolute authority over the operations of the Penn State Science Diving Program. Functions of the Board are:

  • Approves and monitors diving projects
  • Reviews and revises the diving safety manual
  • Assures compliance with the manual
  • Certifies Scientific Divers for the Penn State Science Diving Program
  • Certifies depths to which a diver has been trained
  • Takes disciplinary action for unsafe practices
  • Assures adherence to the buddy system for scuba diving

Membership of the Board includes:

  • Chairperson elected by the Board
  • University Dive Safety Officer (DSO)
  • Representative from each unit actively involved in scientific diving for research or education
  • Representative (dive instructor) from the Kinesiology scuba diving program
  • Director of Research Protections

Current Members

  • Chair, Robert Crane, professor geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS)
  • DSO, Timothy White, senior research scientist, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, EMS
  • Lee Kump, dean, EMS
  • Jay Stauffer, distinguished professor of ichthyology, College of Agricultural Sciences
  • Candice A. Yekel, associate vice president for research and director of research protections, Office for Research Protections
  • Iliana Baums, associate professor of biology, Eberly College of Science

Other Faculty Active in the Program

  • Todd LaJeunesse, associate professor of biology, Eberly College of Science
  • Mónica Medina, associate professor of biology, Eberly College of Science
  • Lee Newsom, associate professor of anthroplogy, College of the Liberal Arts
  • Russ Graham, Director, EMS Museum & Art Gallery
  • Jennifer Macalady, associate professor of geosciences, Department of Geosciences, EMS
  • Ann Killebrew, associate professor of classics and ancient mediterranean studies, College of the Liberal Arts

Penn State Policies

Student Opportunities

Learn more about a number of student opportunities for those interested in scientific diving: