Prior to contrary belief, the SoMAS buildings on South Campus are not named after shuttles in the space program. In fact, our buildings and the space shuttles share their names from the same source: famous ships.
The buildings of South Campus are designated with the name SURGE and a letter for each building. What is now Endeavour was G Building, Discovery was H Building, Challenger was F Building and Dana was D Building. In the mid 1980s, Dean Jerry Schubel authorized a naming contest for each building at MSRC. A nautical theme was chosen for the contest. A representative from each building was responsible for finding suggestions, which were then voted on by the occupants. Coastal Marine Scholar Bill Dennison was responsible for SURGE H, Dr. Edward Carpenter was responsible for SURGE F, Dr. Malcolm Bowman was responsible for SURGE J and Dr. Glenn Lopez for SURGE D.
Dr. Bill Dennison, currently at the University of Maryland, chose the name of Discovery for H Building. According to him, “Discovery had an amazing history, including taking Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica, which intrigued me” because “I liked and still like nautical and science history.”
Dr. Malcolm Bowman chose the name Endeavour for G Building based on the importance of the boat in New Zealand, Dr. Bowman’s birthplace. The HMS Endeavour was commanded by British Lt. James Cook on his first voyage from Britain to Australia and New Zealand. To prove the point of the iconic nature of the boat, Dr. Bowman is reported to have pulled out a New Zealand coin with the boat’s impression on the back.
Dr. Edward Carpenter, now at San Francisco State University was a physical oceanographer in F Building and chose the name Challenger. The HMS Challenger and the 1872 expedition named after the boat laid the foundation for oceanography and the name was the only logical choice.
The naming of D Building has an interesting “evolution.” D Building was home to several faculty with strong evolutionary interests. Originally, the residents of D Building wanted to name the building after Charles Darwin, the renowned scientist. Unfortunately, that name did not fit the theme set by Jerry Schubel, but the name of the ship that Darwin sailed on for his famous trip was suggested. That vessel, the HMS Beagle, was deemed an inappropriate name given D Building’s history of maintaining lab animals for biomedical research, including dogs. Dr. Glenn Lopez chose the name Dana for D Building after the Danish ship Dana II, the “ship used by Johannes Schmidt during a voyage funded by the Carlsberg Foundation that ended up discovering that both American and European eels spawned in the Sargasso Sea.”
When the floor tiles in the hallways of the buildings on South Campus were eventually replaced, former facilities manager Cliff Jones worked with University Facilities to install the marine life artwork featured in the tiles. Cliff worked with George Carroll to create the patterns used for the tiles.
In Endeavour Hall, a shark was installed near the main entrance by the aquarium. In Discovery Hall, a sea horse was installed near the entrance by the Boat House. In Challenger Hall, a pair of dolphins were installed as you walk through the doors closest to MASIC. Dana Hall was the first building were the floors were repaired and unfortunately the tile replacement work was completed before any tile artwork could be installed. When SoMAS had a presence in Dutchess Hall, a turtle was installed. When SoMAS moved out of Dutchess Hall and the Stony Brook University Police Department moved in, the turtle was replaced with a police badge.
Many thanks to the efforts of John Marcinka from New Construction to help get the tile artwork installed.
Flax Pond Marine Laboratory
The Flax Pond Marine Laboratory is named after the tidal estuary on which is resides, Flax Pond. According to the Friends of Flax Pond, the pond was originally named Fresh Pond. The name changed in the 18th century when the pond was known for its use to separate the fibers of the flax plant in a process known as retting. In the 19th century, an inlet was created to open the area of shellfishing.
Natural Sciences Center
The Natural Sciences Center at the Southampton Campus is home to the SoMAS faculty based in Southampton. The building was built by the SUNY Dormitory Authority for the LIU Southampton Campus and dedicated in September, 1965.
Marine Sciences Center
Opened in 2013, the Marine Sciences Center on Old Fort Pond Bay at the Southampton campus is a brand new building that houses classrooms and research laboratories. The building is LEED certified. It was built on the site of the former marine station.
A collection of historical photos of our buildings is available on Google Photos.