Nova Southeastern University announced it will host a grand opening ceremony of the largest coral reef research facility in the United States on Sept. 27. According to a press release put out by the university, the Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research is the largest (at 86,000 square feet) and sole research facility in the country that is dedicated entirely to coral reef ecosystems research. The center’s research will gauge the health of coral reefs as well as their capability to recover when they are injured or damaged; assess how climate change affects coral reefs; grow and reintroduce corals into the ocean; create a map of the world’s coral reefs; reconstruct the history of coral reefs through the study of coral growth rings; study water currents in and around reefs; gain an understanding of the molecular biology of reef animals and how they are connected with other animals; and study the effects of pollution such as oil and how pollution impacts coral reefs.
The center includes workspace for research collaboration, training, fieldwork staging, and also features an 85-seat auditorium and a marine science library.
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 in a prepared statement. 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 facility, which cost $50 million, created 22 new academic jobs and 300 construction jobs. It will employ 50 graduate students and will preserve 22 existing academic jobs at the university. Approximately $15 million in funding came from the U.S. Department of Commerce via a competitive grant (using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). The university funded the remaining $35 million.