The Laboratory was established by Drs. Charles and Clarice Yentsch in 1974 as a private, non-profit research institution named for the oceanographer Henry Bryant Bigelow, founding Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dr. Bigelow’s extensive investigations in the early part of the twentieth century are recognized as the foundation of modern oceanography. His multi-year expeditions in the Gulf of Maine, where he collected water samples and data on phytoplankton, fish populations, and hydrography, established a new paradigm of intensive, ecologically-based oceanographic research in the United States and made this region one of the most thoroughly studied bodies of water, for its size, in the world.
Since its founding, the Laboratory has attracted over $100 million in federal grants for research projects, winning competitive, peer reviewed awards from all of the principal federal research granting agencies. The Laboratory’s total operating revenue (including philanthropy) grew by 68% to $7.9 million over the period 2006-2012. Federal research grants have supported most of the Laboratory’s research operations and administrative needs in the past; education and outreach programs have relied on other sources of support, primarily contributions from individuals and private philanthropic foundations.
The mission is to investigate the microbial drivers of global ocean processes through basic and applied research, education, and enterprise. What they are learning will be essential to the conservation and responsible use of the ocean and the many valuable services it provides.
Research at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is organized around three core themes of Blue Biotechnology, Ocean Biogeochemistry and Climate Change, and Ocean Health. The Laboratory's 60,000 square-foot, shore-based campus is located in East Boothbay, Maine, on the Damariscotta River estuary. In December 2012, the campus became the first LEED Platinum certified laboratory in Maine and one of seven in the New England area. The Laboratory was recently rated one of the top 10 places to work in Maine.
Named for Henry Bryant Bigelow, a visionary scientist and pioneer of modern oceanography, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences was founded in 1974 as a private, non-profit research institution. Henry Bigelow's approach to oceanography stressed the interdependence of the biological, chemical and physical sciences. This perspective has served as a cornerstone of the programs throughout the history.
The majority of the Laboratory's funding comes from federal and state grants and contracts, licenses and contracts with the private sector, and philanthropic support. Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences supports the work of over 70 scientists and staff. The Laboratory also maintains a library open to the public both in East Boothbay and at McKown Point in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in collaboration with the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
The Laboratory’s primary research focus is on the microbial life and biogeochemical dynamics of the world’s ocean, advancing society’s understanding of the interactions between ocean ecosystems, global processes, and the environment. The Laboratory’s education programs include undergraduate training through a semester program offered in affiliation with Colby College, and a National Science Foundation-funded summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. The Laboratory is also the home to several service facilities, including the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA), the Single Cell Genomics Center (SCGC), and the J.J. MacIsaac Facility for Aquatic Cytometry.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences’ strength lies in the expertise and dedication of the senior research scientists, science and administrative staff, and the support of the Board of Trustees and Trustees' Advisory Board, donors, and friends.
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