The new Marine Sciences Center at Stony Brook Southampton is set to open next week, just in time for the start of the new semester, capping a year of construction at the Shinnecock Hills campus.
With the final touches completed, researchers and students at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences moved into the building in late August. Classes are now set to start next week, according to Christopher Paparo, the new manager of the 12,000-square-foot building. An official grand opening ceremony for the new facility has been scheduled for Friday, September 27.
The old facility, located on the same property, became too small to sustain the various experiments at the marine center. It will still be used for smaller projects and as a tool shop.
Along with being a state-of-the-art marine research facility, the new building on Little Neck Road has several labs and a classroom for both undergraduate- and graduate-level work. One of the labs can also be combined with a classroom to expand the educational space for lectures. The large, circular building features several labs, and has the ability to pump water straight from the bay, which is right behind the facility. The building, which also features a balcony for parties, has spare areas for computers and visiting scientists.
“The goal of the college is to build on our past success,” Mr. Paparo said. “We have a world-renowned graduate program, and we want to see the same for our undergraduate program.”
The facility, which features a seawater lab, two wet labs, an analytic lab, a conference room and a lobby/education space, cost approximately $8.35 million to build. Of that, $6.9 million came from New York State and was secured by State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.
“It is another sign of the rebirth of the Southampton campus,” Mr. Thiele said. “After several difficult years, I think life is springing back there. The marine science program continues to be the flagship program, and this new building means great things for the campus, and shows the commitment of the state and SUNY.” The campus is affiliated with Stony Brook University, which in turn is part of the State University of New York system.
According to Mr. Paparo, who started at the job in June after spending most of his career working at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead, one goal for the new building is to expand the local outreach program. Specifically, he wants to draw more high school students to the facility and spread an interest in studying marine biology. The first step, he said, is to reach out to local high schools to visit the area. Students will also have the opportunity to go out on the water in one of four boats owned by the college.
“We want to build our outreach programs and get the high school kids and locals involved,” Mr. Paparo said. “I think making our local community aware of what is going on out there is huge.”
Work on the interior of the building was finished in recent weeks. Desks and laboratory equipment has been installed, and several large fish tanks were put in place and filled with water pumped from Shinnecock Bay.
“I think that it is great for the marine science program in Southampton to have a state-of-the-art facility, because they are one of the top marine science programs in the country,” Mr. LaValle said. “We should have nothing but the best facility to train future marine scientists.”
Both Mr. LaValle and Mr. Thiele, as well as the president of Stony Brook University, Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., are scheduled to attend the grand opening celebration on September 27.
“The new Marine Sciences Center will play a key role in solidifying the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences as the premier undergraduate and graduate marine science program on the East Coast,” Dr. Stanley wrote in an email. “It will expand waterfront marine research and play a key role in enhancing SoMAS’s ability to perform groundbreaking studies in a variety of issues facing Long Island and the world today.
“It will also enable us to offer more classes with rich experiential components,” he continued. “It will augment our cutting-edge research with important implications for Long Island’s coastal ecosystems, including studies of harmful algal blooms, shellfish, eelgrass, fisheries, ocean acidification and aquaculture. In this new building, students will get an extremely high quality education at a very affordable price.”