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US$15.9 Million State Funding for SoMAS Stony Brook

SOUTHAMPTON - The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) Marine Science Research Center and the student center at Stony Brook Southampton's campus will undergo significant facility upgrades thanks to a $15.9 million appropriation in New York State's 2008-2009 budget.

According to a report on Hamptons.com, approximately US$7 million will be used to upgrade the SoMAS research station, a 7,500 square foot facility on Old Fort Pond near Shinnecock Bay. The facility will be expanded to 14,000 feet, with new, state of the art laboratories for aquaculture research and space for public education.

"We're going to be in a better position to attract students," as a result of the funding, said Martin Schoonen, Stony Brook Southampton's Interim Dean. "I think it's really going to catapult us in terms of facility to be among the best on the East Coast," David Conover, the dean of SoMAS, commented. The school is seeking to raise an additional US$1.7 million to pay for new equipment for the expanded laboratory space.

Another US$7.5 million will be used to expand the student center, the building that was formerly Wood Hall. With news of the funding arriving on April 10, plans for expanding the center are very preliminary, according to Peter Baigent, the vice president for student affairs at Stony Brook Southampton.

The Marine Disease Pathology and Research Consortium, which researches the impact of disease on the marine life and the aquaculture industry, will receive the remaining $1.5 million of the appropriation.

School officials credited Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele for obtaining the funding in the state's capital budget.

“On the assembly side we was able to get funding for the Marine Science Center into the bill, and Senator LaValle was able to secure funding for the student center,” Thiele said.

In a statement LaValle said that the funding was a major investment in our region. The projects at the university will not only improve the educational value of the campus, but will create jobs in construction, education, and the aquaculture industry.

The facility, located at the Stony Brook campus, was created in 2000 to research a lobster die-off in Long Island Sound, and is the "only facility on Long Island that conducts research and diagnostics marine diseases," Conover explained.

View the Hamptons.com story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy

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