The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced Monday that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington would receive $15 million for a new facility for the program.

Some 45 scientists, 60 students and more than 60 staff are involved in the UNC-Wilmington based center.

The award is one of four, totaling more than $55 million, for the construction of new scientific research facilities at universities. The University of Miami, Auburn University and Rice University also received funding.

“These awards mean four major construction projects in these local areas, with the jobs and economic benefits they bring,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement. “Even more important, these four projects provide a major boost to scientific research at four respected universities, enhancing innovation, public safety and environmental protection for many, many years to come.”

The new research buildings will provide state-of-the-art laboratory facilities supporting academic research across a broad range of topics affecting the Commerce Department’s mission, including fundamental physics research, nanotechnology, aquaculture and marine ecology.

Areas of expertise for the UNC-Wilmington center include:

  • Marine Biotechnology
  • Biodiversity
  • Natural Products
  • Oceanography
  • Harmful Algal Studies
  • Coastal Ecology
  • Estuarine and River Ecology
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Fisheries Biology
  • Marine Mammals

Its mission statement:

"The Center for Marine Science at UNC Wilmington is dedicated to providing an environment that fosters a multidisciplinary approach to questions in basic marine research. The mission of the center is to promote basic and applied research in the fields of oceanography, coastal and wetland studies, marine biomedical and environmental physiology, and marine biotechnology and aquaculture. Faculty members conducting marine science research in the departments of biology and marine biology , chemistry and biochemistry, physics and physical oceanography and geography and geology participate in this program. The center fosters research programs of the highest quality and thereby enhances the educational experience provided by The University of North Carolina Wilmington for both undergraduate and graduate students in marine science."

Money for the projects comes from the federal economic stimulus package.