Friday, February 24, 2006
Look Out for Portland...
Maine that is... Last fall saw the grand opening of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland. Maine is already a beautiful place, from what I have heard, and Portland is one of America's hottest small city, with its historic seaport and vibrant economy. When the new institute opened on Portland's coast last October, it brought Maine one step closer to being one of the premier marine research centers in the world. Mayor James Cohen and other city officials are working with members of Maine's marine science community to develop a 10-year plan to raise Portland's profile as a marine science city by 2015. Once the plan is adopted, Portland hopes to attract biotechnology companies that would include a focus on marine research and technology development. The city would work with leaders in the business and research communities to expand existing institutions and draw ocean-related companies. Portland already hosts a cluster of marine research facilities, including the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the University of Maine System, the University of New England and the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System. Those entities are part of the 26-member Maine Marine Research Coalition, which includes the Bigelow Laboratories for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay and the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center in Walpole.
Just to get an idea, the GMRI just opened a 44,000 sq ft lab facility, with a Fishery Ecosystem Research Wing (wet labs and analytical labs, office suites, shared conference rooms) and The Sam L. Cohen Center for Interactive Learning (live and digital exhibits tailored to serve Maine middle school students and teachers). And there are plans to build an additional 25,000 sq ft facility devoted to marine biotechnology. There are number of research activities already being conducted, including trawl surveys, shrimp fisheries, lobster diet and cod-tagging. There are also plans for long term ecological research projects. The combination of research and public outreach, I believe, is best. Its not only important to do research, but its important to get that information to the public in a way which they can understand. This enables them to make more informed decisions when it comes to buying products, fishing and even voting. I am very interested in seeing these facilities and if the expansion of the institute and plans to beechen a premier facility follow through, Portland might be my new abode before long.