Although Skidaway Institute is not organized into departments, research is generally divided among four disciplines: physical oceanography; chemical oceanography, which includes geochemistry and marine biochemistry; geological oceanography; and biological oceanography.
Oceanography, by its very nature, is interdisciplinary (e.g., the BOTTOMS-UP and SABSOON projects), and close cooperation is required among the various scientific disciplines.
Skidaway Institute biological oceanographers focus their work primarily on the tiniest but most abundant organisms in the ocean; phytoplankton (plant), zooplankton (animal) and bacteria. Their work investigates the factors which promote or inhibit their growth, as well as their role in cycling elements of global interest, such as carbon and nitrogen, through the ocean environment.
Skidaway Institute chemists investigate the chemical composition of marine organisms, sea water, suspended particles and bottom sediments. They ask how and why compositions vary by time and space in the ocean and how the chemical nature of the marine system may be influenced by man's activities.
Geological oceanographers at Skidaway Institute focus their research on the sedimentology and stratigraphy of coastal and continental-margin sedimentary environments. The goal is to be able to identify, interpret and understand similar ancient sedimentary environments: to determine how modern systems work; and then make predictions about future geological development.
Physical oceanographers at Skidaway Institute study the complex movement and motions of ocean waters on small to global scales, through a combination of field studies and theoretical and computer modelling.