Major new reef research centre opens in Florida
(CNS): A new $50 million centre for coral reef ecosystems research will be opening in Hollywood, Florida later this month. The new facility at the Nova Southeastern University will be the largest and only research facility in the United States dedicated to coral reef ecosystems research. Receiving the largest research grant in NSU’s history officials said this was recognition of the tremendous value of coral reefs to the US and the considerable threats and stressors now impinging upon them, said Dean Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D, executive director of the NSU’s National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI). The Centre aims to develop solid research products and information that will lead to better management and conservation solutions.
NSU scientists will conduct reef research locally, nationally and globally at the 86,000-square-foot Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research. The facility is located at NSU’s Oceanographic Centre at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park.
Research at the Centre will allow for greater understanding of how reefs respond to threats, officials said in a release ahead of the planned opening ceremony later this month. Eliminating or mitigating local threats to coral reefs is part of that solution. Some of these are easy fixes that include stopping overfishing, controlling pollution, and establishing marine protected areas.
As a multi-disciplinary facility, the Centre will generate information and research products to help understand, conserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. In addition to having laboratories and sophisticated equipment, the Centre has space for research collaboration, training, and fieldwork staging, a marine science library and an 85-seat auditorium. The building’s design promotes research by current and new faculty, researchers, visiting scientists, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students.
An important partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the NCRI has long supported NOAA’s mission by providing scientific research regarding local solutions to global oceanographic crises. “NSU’s new Centre of Excellence fits perfectly within NOAA’s mission and provides both urgently needed physical facilities and expanded scientific capacity regionally, nationally and globally,” Dodge added.
NSU received a $15 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of to build the centre, while the university funded the rest of the project. The grant was one of 12 given by the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology as a result of a nationwide competition.
“By opening this state-of-the-art facility, NSU is taking a leadership role in Florida’s marine science research and helping boost an important multibillion dollar coral industry that employs thousands of South Floridians and sustains many small businesses,” NSU President George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D. said. “The centre is critical for the environmental sustainability of coral reefs, which are the life blood of our region and oceans.”
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