Students work with live organisms in the St. Mary's aquatics lab. Photo courtesy of SMCM.

St. Mary’s College Gets $1 Million in Federal Funding to Revamp Aquatic Lab

St. Mary’s College of Maryland, known for its strong Chesapeake bay ties and waterside marine science opportunities, is getting $1 million to renovate its aquatic lab.

Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD 5th) announced the 2023 federal funding to revamp the 30-year-old lab for students and faculty in the biology, chemistry, biochemistry and marine science programs.

The aquatic lab is used for teaching and research and can maintain living aquatic organisms with both freshwater and saltwater systems. The lab takes advantages of the college’s location with a flow-through river water system from the St. Mary’s River.

The St. Mary’s marine science program is nearly brand new, launched in the fall of 2021, and is the only undergraduate program of its kind in Maryland. A $900,000 appropriation from 2022 paid for a research vessel and equipment for marine science students to study the biological, chemical and physical properties of the St. Mary’s River, Lower Potomac River, and Chesapeake Bay.

Students take courses like Principles of Biology and Invertebrate Zoology where they get hands-on experience with living organisms. They recently raised corals for collaborative research with the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.

“From studying tropical oceans to freshwater lake environments, the aquatics lab will allow year-round hands-on learning and research experiences that are crucial for marine science and other majors,” said Randy Larsen, PhD, associate dean of faculty and coordinator for the marine science program. “SMCM’s location and local connections make us uniquely positioned for students who are interested in pursuing a marine science major,” Larsen added. “The Chesapeake Bay is globally renowned and locally cherished.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano