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June 15, 1998

Major gift will fund new Center for Ocean Health at Long Marine Lab

By Tim Stephens

UCSC will establish a new Center for Ocean Health at the Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory, a research and education facility operated by the campus. Construction of the new center will be largely funded by a $5 million grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

The Center for Ocean Health facility will provide flexible oceanfront research space for Long Marine Lab and other components of the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS). The approximately 20,000-square-foot facility will replace the aging trailers currently occupied by Long Marine Lab staff. It will include offices and laboratories for faculty, researchers, and graduate students, and a 50-seat conference room.

"The Center for Ocean Health will be the capstone of UCSC's long-standing commitment to marine and environmental research and education," says Chancellor Greenwood.

The center will integrate interdisciplinary marine science research, environmental policy, and public education, all focusing on the health of the world's oceans, says IMS director Gary Griggs. He envisions it as not only a research center, but as a "think tank" that will bring together scientists and policy makers and play a key role in the creation of public policy at the state and national levels.

"The adverse effects of human activities on the earth's oceans can be seen in declining water quality, habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and overexploited fisheries. Addressing these problems effectively requires a coordinated effort of marine research, environmental policy formulation, and public education," Griggs says.

Additional investment in marine science and policy is critical to the future health of our oceans, agrees Julie Packard, a Packard Foundation trustee and UCSC alumna.

"It gives me particular pleasure to know that a new marine research facility will soon be a reality at the north end of Monterey Bay," Packard says. "This facility will enable UC Santa Cruz and its partners to advance research goals essential to our understanding of ocean systems and our role in protecting them."

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, created in 1964, provides grants in several major program areas, including science, population, conservation, and children and community. The Packard Foundation's support of programs at UCSC, beginning in 1979, now totals more than $9.4 million.

"The Packard Foundation has been an extremely generous donor to UCSC, and we are particularly grateful for this important new commitment, which builds upon their very generous past support of the Long Marine Lab and the Institute of Marine Sciences," says Greenwood.

The IMS, with 35 affiliated marine science faculty and almost 40 professional and postdoctoral researchers, is known for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in environmental toxicology, marine mammal biology, nearshore ecological processes, marine biogeochemistry, paleoceanography, and continental margin geology. IMS faculty and researchers bring in about $8.5 million annually in external research funding.

James Gill, associate vice chancellor for research, notes that the grant is helping to close a significant gap between UCSC's needs and the available research space. No state funds are contributing to the construction of the Center for Ocean Health, he adds.

"Private gifts play an essential role in providing research buildings at all major universities," Gill says. "It is a wonderful way for foundations and people to invest in the future."

The Marine Discovery Center currently under construction at the Long Marine Lab site will complement the Center for Ocean Health with its research-based public education program. The Marine Discovery Center, which has also received significant private funding from the Packard Foundation and others, will be a key element in explaining the research of IMS and other Monterey Bay research organizations to the public.

Plans for the Center for Ocean Health include an annual ocean health summit conference, quarterly ocean health seminars, and a visiting government fellows program. One aim is to increase contact and facilitate communication between IMS researchers and governmental and nongovernmental organizations concerned with ocean health issues. This includes key federal and state agencies involved in ocean-related public policy.

The Packard grant provides the first major step toward the realization of these plans for the Center for Ocean Health. The campus will seek additional funding for construction and programmatic costs from foundations, corporations, and individual donors.

In addition to UCSC's facilities, two government research agencies are moving or have moved to the Long Marine Lab site, investing nearly $25 million. The California Department of Fish and Game opened its Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center there last July, and the National Marine Fisheries Service will begin construction of a new facility this year.

"The result of all of these investments will be a complex of state-of-the-art facilities supporting broad-based efforts in ocean health research, policy, and education," says Griggs.

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