HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Nova Southeastern University will host a grand opening ceremony for America’s largest coral reef research center on Sept. 27.
NSU scientists are conducting reef research locally, nationally and globally at the 86,000-square-foot Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research. The facility is located at NSU’s Oceanographic Center at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park.
At a price-tag of $50 million, the Center has created 22 new academic jobs and 300 construction jobs; and it will employ 50 graduate students as well as preserving 22 existing academic jobs. NSU received a $15 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce (using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) to build the center, while the university funded the rest of the project.
“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 reef industry that employs thousands of South Floridians and sustains many small businesses,” said NSU President George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D. “The research Center is critical for the environmental sustainability of coral reefs, which are the life blood of our region and oceans, and their ecosystems.”
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. NSU was one of two institutions to receive the largest amount awarded at $15 million. Other grantees included the Woods Hole Oceanographic Center, Columbia University, Purdue, Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Georgetown University, and University of Maryland, putting NSU in elite company.
The new Center will be the largest and only research facility in the nation solely dedicated to coral reef ecosystems research.
“This Center is a boon to NSU’s multi-disciplinary research mission as well as being a catalyst for the creation of hundreds of new jobs in the region, both academic and non,” Hanbury said.
Receiving the largest research grant in NSU’s history to build this Center is recognition of the tremendous value of coral reefs to the United States and the considerable threats and stressors now impinging upon them, said Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D., dean of NSU’s Oceanographic Center and executive director of NSU’s National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI). The Center aims to develop solid research products and information that will lead to better management and conservation solutions.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) considers NCRI as an important partner. In turn, NCRI has long supported NOAA’s mission by providing outstanding scientific research to support federal, state and local resource managers in addressing local solutions to global oceanographic crises.
“NSU’s new Center of Excellence fits perfectly within NOAA’s mission and provides both urgently needed physical facilities and expanded scientific capacity regionally, nationally and globally,” Dodge said.
Research at the Center allows for greater understanding of how reefs respond to threats. 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 Center generates information and research products to help understand, conserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. Its coral reef research aims to:
- Assess the health of coral reefs and their ability to recover from injury and damage;
- Examine effects of climate change on reefs;
- Cultivate species of corals in nurseries for re-introduction to the ocean;
- Map the extent and nature of coral reefs throughout the world;
- Study coral growth rings to reconstruct the history of reefs and environmental conditions;
- Investigate the flow of water in and around reefs;
- Reveal molecular biology of reef animals to understand connectivity; and
- Determine the effects of pollution, including oil that may impinge on reefs.
In addition to having laboratories and sophisticated equipment, the Center 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.
The Center’s location in Hollywood is important because 84 percent of the nation’s reefs are located in Florida. Local South Florida businesses like dive shops, restaurants, hotels, gift shops, boat tours, cruises, and big and small business owners depend on those reefs for their livelihoods.
Small business owner Frank Gernert, the owner of the popular Fort Lauderdale waterfront restaurant Coconuts, depend heavily on tourists who come to Florida for recreation on the reefs and in turn, patronize his restaurant
“Nova Southeastern University’s coral reef research center will help sustain and preserve the reefs, which will then help many small business owners like me to continue to survive,” Gernert said. “The coral reef industry is invaluable environmentally and economically.”
The Sept. 27 grand opening ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m. The news media are welcomed to attend the ceremony, as well as participate on a media dive and snorkel trip from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. that morning. The dive will allow the media to accompany NSU scientists to visit the university’s coral reef nurseries off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale. Media interested in participating in the dive and snorkel should contact Ken Ma at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-621-7961.
Guest attendance at the grand opening ceremony is by invitation only.
About Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center: A world leader in marine biological research with focus on coral reef science and shark conservation, Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center has been at the forefront of graduate and undergraduate marine science education and oceanographic research for over 48 years. Students, scientists, faculty and staff come to the Center from all corners of the globe, with the common goal of learning from the ocean’s living classrooms — in one of the most diverse ecosystems known to man. http://www.nova.edu/ocean/
About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 300 beautiful acres in Davie, Florida, Nova Southeastern University is a dynamic fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels. NSU is the eighth largest not-for-profit independent institution nationally with more than 28,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 115 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. www.nova.edu
(Press Release, Nova Southeastern University)