|Mote Marine Laboratory (Mote) and Jacksonville University (JU) have forged a new education-focused partnership to benefit students, faculty and researchers while strengthening the foundations of Florida-based marine science.
Leaders of the two institutions, Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby and JU President Tim Cost, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to lay the foundation for collaborations in marine research and education serving the common missions and goals of both institutions.
This agreement provides the foundation for Mote and JU to build exciting new partnerships in teaching, mentoring undergraduate and graduate student research, conducting joint research and sharing research and education facilities and infrastructure.
Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine science institution currently celebrating its 60th Anniversary. It operates six campuses throughout Southwest Florida, including its 10.5-acre home base in Sarasota and its 200-acre sustainable fish farming and research facility, Mote Aquaculture Park (MAP), in eastern Sarasota County. Mote also operates a Summerland Key research facility that is internationally recognized for studying ocean acidification and restoration of coral reefs. Mote is significantly expanding its research infrastructure, science and education programs. The Lab’s 36 Ph.D.-level scientists and overall staff of 200 work with visiting researchers from around the world and hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students each year.
JU, which started in 1934 as a junior college and quickly became a four-year university, offers seven bachelor’s degree programs and more than 70 majors, concentrations and programs, including marine science and biology. JU also has graduate programs in marine science, nursing, education, business, math, public policy and more. Its partnerships with businesses and civic organizations help students learn outside the classroom and begin building careers. JU’s science programs are served by its 32,000-square-foot LEED GOLD-certified Marine Science Research Institute (MSRI), a state-of-the-art floating classroom, along with the vast natural laboratories in Northeast Florida.
The new MOU will help Mote and JU experts collaborate in research, teaching, mentoring graduate studies and seeking funding support relating to many key areas of marine science and technology, including:
- Climate change impacts on resiliency and recovery of coral reefs;
- Ecotoxicology (toxins in the environment and living things) and water quality;
- Marine fisheries biology and ecology;
- Marine mammal and sea turtles;
- Marine and freshwater aquaculture (fish farming);
- Marine microbiology and ecogenomics (studying the genetics of life forms and their populations in relation to their environment and ecosystem);
- Marine nutraceuticals (ocean-derived products including nutritional supplements and medicines), biomedical and immunology research;
- Ecology of marine phytoplankton and zooplankton (small, drifting life forms vital to ocean ecosystems);
- Ocean technology;
- Ecology of salt marshes and mangroves.
“Working together leverages and strengthens our capabilities for marine science and technology, enhances our efforts to educate the next generation of marine scientists and allows us to better serve our oceans and our communities,” said Mote President & CEO Dr. Crosby. “Mote and Jacksonville University each have diverse scientific expertise, world-class programs designed to help young scientists excel, and access to unique natural habitats where students and their mentors can do truly meaningful work.”
Dr. Quinton White, Executive Director of JU’s Marine Science Research Institute, added that the partnership will not only benefit faculty but undergraduate and graduate students as well.
“We have worked with Mote scientists for many years, and we are now expanding and formalizing ways we can collaborate on a wide variety of research and educational topics,” he said. “We have been exploring possibilities to work together on manatee research, and we are hoping to expand our aquaculture program, too. JU faculty will be able to use Mote facilities in Sarasota and the Keys, while we look forward to hosting their scientists at JU.”