Students participating in lab and field research during the CSU Marine Biology Semester
The Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI) —a consortium of 11 Southern California universities, including eight CSU campuses—has been providing marine research and education support to the CSU for over 15 years. Committed to offering marine expertise and hands-on field experience to students, the SCMI develops science education programs, facilitates research in marine science, and works with university and community members to execute environment monitoring projects.
“We are here to support marine biology programs,” said Tom Chavez, assistant director of the SCMI. “We have the ability to take university students interested in doing research out into the ocean and introduce them to the marine environment.”
SCMI engages students of all ages from K-12, community colleges and universities to participate in ocean education programs where they can interact with marine life through experiments and demonstrations. For example, SCMI administers the CSU Marine Biology Semester where students live on Catalina Island for 16 weeks, and participate in lectures, lab research, and field work in nearby marine habitats for school credit. Students from the CSU campuses who are part of the consortium which includes Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Pomona, San Bernardino and San Marcos collaborate with each other to work toward solving marine and coastal issues. Also, the Institute manages a diver certification program that trains and certifies graduate students and professors in scuba diving, which can be vital in achieving the highest level of research.
Furthermore, SCMI supports student and faculty development by providing scientific equipment, vessels, facilities and personnel necessary to carry out research projects. In addition to providing small motor boats for faculty and graduate student research excursions, SCMI maintains research vessel Yellowfin which can be used for demonstration cruises to give students the opportunity to collect, analyze and identify fish. SCMI also houses classrooms and laboratories where researchers can test the water samples and examine the specimens found during their research excursion.
In 2017, the Institute is slated to move its facilities to be included in City Dock No. 1, a 28-acre campus that will house state-of-the-art research and education facilities at the Port of Los Angeles. The planned site will include a circulating seawater and marine life support system, an interpretive center for school field trips and community education, a 4,100-foot waterfront dock/wharf space, and research and teaching laboratories located directly on the harbor.