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Sense of Place

Nova Southeastern University’s Coral Reef Ecosystems Research Center

University Business, January 2013
Coral Up Close: NSU President George Hanbury participated in a dive to celebrate the September 27 grand opening.

The new Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research at Nova Southeastern University (Fla.) is believed by officials to be the largest research facility dedicated to this research area in the nation. So it’s fitting that officials did it up big with the grand opening, featuring President George Hanbury and members of the media taking a ceremonial dive.  The facility is part of NSU’s Oceanographic Center at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park.

  • PROBLEM: In a state that’s home to 84 percent of the nation’s reef ecosystems that contribute more than $6 billion annually to the local economy and result in more than 71,000 jobs (including those that are tourism related as well as research, academic, and public sector positions), the motivation to understand, conserve, and protect these natural wonders is strong. “Coral reefs today are under great stress and degradation worldwide,” explains  Richard Dodge, dean of the Oceanographic Center at NSU. “Through increased knowledge, solutions to the coral reef crisis can be identified.”
  • SOLUTION: That work is underway at NSU within its new 86,000-square-foot facility, which, as Dodge puts it, “fills global, national, regional, and local needs by providing essential research, information, and hence understanding of our precious coral reefs.” Hanbury adds, “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.”

He views the project as evidence that NSU is taking a leadership role in Florida’s marine science research. As for the local economy, the facility has created 22 new academic jobs, has preserved 22 existing academic jobs, and is employing 50 graduate students. And, he says, the center will help in attracting bright graduate and undergraduate students from across the country and around the world. Besides housing laboratories, the building has space for research collaboration, training, and fieldwork staging, and includes a marine science library and an 85-seat auditorium.

The center’s research aims to, among other things, examine the effects of climate change on reefs and determine the effects of pollution, including oil that may impinge on reefs. The building is anticipating LEED Silver designation.

  • COST: $50 million (including a $15 million federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • COMPLETED: September 2012
  • PROJECT TEAM: Moss-Miller, LLC; Cannon Design; Acai Associates; Bliss & Nyitray, Inc.