Western Washington University is awarded a grant to acquire a new research vessel that provides the Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) with the capacity to process samples from the water column at the site of collection in real time. The vessel will provide protected laboratory capacity to measure processes in the plant and animal marine microscopic community, providing a more accurate picture of the oceanic processes that regulate and drive the productivity of such systems. This new capacity will greatly expand the scope of the field research that SPMC can conduct in marine waters and the training in such processes that can be provided to both undergraduates and graduate students.
SPMC focuses on providing undergraduate with hands-on training in the most up-to-date field and laboratory investigative techniques and in actual research experience. SPMC annually provides such training to at least 18 such students, both from under-represented minority and general student populations, including community college students. The proposed vessel will provide an additional source of training to these students recruited from around the nation. SPMC also operates a Marine Public Education program that translates research activities to both K-12 and general public audiences in an effort to improve ocean science literacy. The programs targeting schools and public events include descriptions of the techniques used and information about the outcomes of research activities. Issues of water quality, harmful algal bloom ecology and fisheries productivity are common themes that occupy local discussions of land and water use. Use of the proposed vessel will enhance the ability to contribute to such discussions as a source of credible information. For more information about Shannon Point Marine Center, visit the web site at www.wwu.edu/spmc/.