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Groundbreaking, SoMAS Marine Science Center

June 11, 2012

Officials at the groundbreaking for the new Marine Sciences Center at Stony Brook Southampton. Pictured from left to right are: Christopher Gobler, Director of Academic Programs for SoMAS Southampton; Dennis N. Assanis, Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs, Stony Brook University; Fred W. Thiele Jr., NYS Assemblyman; Kenneth P. LaValle, NYS Senator; Samuel L. Stanley Jr., President, Stony Brook University; and Minghua Zhang, Dean, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook.

The Southampton Campus of Stony Brook University is set to begin construction on a new state-of-the-art Marine Sciences Center for SoMAS to replace the current waterfront marine sciences research and teaching facilities at Southampton

At a ceremony held at Stony Brook Southampton on Friday June 8, 2012, Stony Brook President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Assanis, and SoMAS officials were joined by New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and other local dignitaries to commemorate the groundbreaking, unveil the renderings of the facility and to discuss the spectacular new research center in detail. The projected expected completion date is fall 2013.

The new 15,000-square-foot Marine Sciences Center, made possible through $6.9 million secured in the State budget by Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele, is being developed to support the growth of the SoMAS undergraduate marine science and environmental science programs, and to play a key role in their ability to perform groundbreaking research into a variety of issues facing Long Island and the world today. The total cost of the project is projected at $8.348 million with the remaining funds coming from Stony Brook University.

At the ceremony, Dr. Stanley expressed gratitude to Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele for their efforts in securing the funds to help make this project a reality.

“The new Marine Sciences Center will play a key role in keeping this school as the premiere marine undergraduate program on the east coast,” said President Stanley. “It will expand opportunities for our students and faculty to conduct waterfront marine research and play a key role in augmenting SoMAS’ ability to perform groundbreaking studies in a variety of issues facing Long Island and the world today.”

“This announcement begins the process to energize the Southampton campus,” said Senator LaValle, during his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony. “It’s a sign that the State and Stony Brook are serious about the Southampton site and investing in the economy of this area. The new Marine Sciences Center will be recognized as a beacon by people from afar.”

“The sun is shining on the Southampton campus today,” said Assemblyman Thiele at the ceremony. “We’ve always had two particular strengths – Marine Sciences and the Writing Program – here at Southampton,” he said. “I choose to look forward to the future of this campus and its great potential – it’s going to be a shining light and a gem for SUNY.”

A rendering of the new Marine Sciences Center at Stony Brook Southampton.

The new two-story facility will enable SoMAS to offer more classes with rich experimental components such as marine biology, marine mammals, ichthyology, physical oceanography and more, which will be taught at the new Marine Sciences Center. SoMAS is ranked sixth in the United States among marine and atmospheric sciences graduate programs, according to the National Research Council.

“The new waterfront facility will bring the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences up to par with our peers for marine-related research and education,” said Minghua Zhang, Dean, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook. “We longed for such a building for many years and are very grateful to all who helped make it a reality,” he said. “This is an investment for the future of our students, the university and the people of Southampton and the entire State of New York.” Also present at the ceremony was Dr. David Conover, former Dean of SoMAS and the current Director of the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Conover was a prime mover of the new laboratory when he served as SoMAS Dean.

The Marine Sciences Center will replace three small existing buildings and house a high-tech 2,500-square-foot Sea Water Lab with a computerized circulation system including four different temperature lines, as well as recirculation capabilities and quarantine and culture rooms. A titanium heat exchanger will be used to preheat or precool incoming sea water for substantial operational energy savings, as well as to reduce the overall size of the heating and cooling equipment.

The Center will also include two wet labs, an analytical lab, a classroom, conference room and other lab and support spaces, including an outdoor tank area that will expand the lab resources outside of the building. The facility will serve as a hub for public lectures and summer educational programs, with a large lobby/gathering room to support these public outreach programs. An outdoor tank area will expand the lab resources outside of the building.

Construction includes sustainable design features utilizing material that is sensitive both to experiments and the coastal marine environment, including energy recovery of ventilation air, daylighting of all normally occupied spaces, a low-static pressure ductwork system, high-efficiency lighting and a super-insulated exterior wall assembly. A LEED Silver rating is targeted at minimum.

Currently, there are more than 500 undergraduate students, 150 graduate students and 90 faculty and staff from 16 different nations working together at SoMAS to better understand how marine, terrestrial and atmospheric environments function and work in relation to one another. At Stony Brook Southampton, students can take courses that explore the natural flora, fauna and habitats of Long Island’s east end. SoMAS faculty and graduate students are engaged in cutting-edge research with important implications for Long Island’s coastal ecosystems, including studies of harmful algal blooms, shellfish, eelgrass, fisheries, ocean acidification, climate change and aquaculture.


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