Connecticut icons Mystic Aquarium and the University of Connecticut have enjoyed a longstanding relationship through education and research. The partnership was solidified further with the announcement of a National Science Foundation Grant for Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) earlier this year. Today, the two organizations share a common vision for marine science and education and real estate. That collaboration was recently solidified with a new agreement that makes UConn Avery Point the official home to the Aquarium’s team of researchers.
The agreement will allow Mystic Aquarium to use laboratory and office space in the Community and Professional Building at the UConn Avery Point campus for the next five years. In that space, research scientists from the Aquarium, including Tracy Romano, Laura Thompson, Paul Anderson, and Maureen Driscoll, will pursue their work to promote healthy oceans, biodiversity, and the sustainable use of aquatic resources for current and future generations.
The collaboration will provide unique teaching and learning opportunities to both institutions, serving not only UConn students, but also Mystic Aquarium interns and volunteers.
“We are excited to have Mystic Aquarium scientists working on campus at Avery Point, alongside our fantastic faculty and students,” says Annemarie Seifert, director of UConn Avery Point. “Our coastal campus is an idyllic location for this cross-disciplinary partnership. Our marine sciences program is known for research around the world, but it is always nice to have strong partnerships in our own back yard.”
The Department of Marine Sciences is located on UConn’s coastal campus at Avery Point, on the shores of Long Island Sound. Within the department, faculty, staff, and students carry out cutting-edge research using observations and numerical models to conduct cross-disciplinary investigations in biological, chemical, physical and geological oceanography, and marine meteorology.
“This move cements a longstanding partnership between two of the state’s great institutions,” says Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO at Mystic Aquarium. “We look forward to many great things emerging from this move. Together we have the very best marine scientists in the world collaborating on projects to better Long Island Sound and the animals within it, as well as global ocean issues.”
As a leader in the aquarium and marine research communities, Mystic Aquarium has produced significant advances in the marine sciences through lab and field work. Aquarium researchers are actively investigating how marine animals are reacting to a changing world. They are developing new techniques to culture marine ornamental fish in order to reduce pressure on wild populations and ecosystems. The research team is also conducting population studies and assessment of species interactions to enable the identification of areas of high biodiversity worthy of protection.
Mystic Aquarium’s research operation was temporarily moved to UConn in late 2016 during the construction of its John T. and Jane A. Weiderhold Foundation Veterinary and Animal Health Center.
According to Mystic’s Romano, it became evident very quickly that the arrangement would enhance collaboration between Mystic Aquarium and UConn and would have a long and lasting impact on conservation, education, and research.
The Aquarium will celebrate UConn Avery Point’s 50th anniversary with special events and promotions throughout the year.