-The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) Marine Science Research Center and the student center at Stony Brook Southampton's campus will undergo significant facility upgrades thanks to a $15.9 million appropriation in New York State's 2008-2009 budget. "We're going to be in a better position to attract students," as a result of the funding, said Martin Schoonen, Stony Brook Southampton's Interim Dean in an interview on April 11.
Approximately $7 million will be used to upgrade the SoMAS reasearch station, a 7,500 square foot facility on Old Fort Pond near Shinnecock Bay. The facility will be expanded to 14,000 feet, with new, state of the art laboratories for aquaculture research and space for public education. "I think it's really going to catapult us in terms of facility to be among the best on the East Coast," David Conover, the dean of SoMAS, commented. The school is seeking to raise an additional $1.7 million to pay for new equipment for the expanded laboratory space.
The new research center will have expanded wet lab
facilities for aquaculture research, as well as more
space for undergraduate research.
Another $7.5 million will be used to expand the student center, the building that was formerly Wood Hall. With news of the funding arriving on April 10, plans for expanding the center are very preliminary, according to Peter Baigent, the vice president for student affairs at Stony Brook Southampton. "It will be the sort of place where students can meet, have events, all those student sort of student life activities, with a possible emphasis on student wellness space," Baigent said.
"These days, having a good student center is an essential part of attracting students," he added. The first floor of the existing student center underwent a recent renovation, and Baigent said students, many of whom participated in a forum to discuss the future of the center, would be "enormously happy to hear" about the additional funding.
School officials credited Senator Ken LaValle
and Assemblyman Fred Thiele
for obtaining the funding in the state's capital
budget. "On the assembly
side we were able to get funding for the Marine Science Center into the bill, and Senator LaValle was able to secure funding for the student center," Thiele said.
"The funding is a major investment in our region," LaValle said in a statement. "The projects at the university will not only improve the educational value of the campus, but will create jobs in construction, education, and the aquaculture industry."
The Marine Disease Pathology and Research Consortium, which researches the impact of disease on the marine life and the aquaculture industry, will receive the remaining $1.5 million of the appropriation. The facility, located at the Stony Brook campus, was created in 2000 to research a lobster die-off in Long Island Sound, and is the "only facility on Long Island that conducts research and diagnostics marine diseases," Conover explained.
Per New York State requirements, the Southampton SoMAS facility and any new construction at the student center will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, a set of national standards governing the design, construction, and operation of environmentally-friendly buildings. SoMAS, ranked among the top 10 marine science programs in the nation, has 125 students in the undergraduate Marine Science program at Southampton, with an additional 175 students enrolled in the Environmental Studies major. The school expects to have between 400 and 600 marine science students within a few years.
The Marine Center at Southampton Stony Brook is the leading marine study research facility in the state university system.