SPC has become the first state college in Florida to be named an associate member of the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO), a research institute based at the University of South Florida. The group is composed of Florida universities and other organizations that aim to transform Florida’s scientific capabilities in ocean research and provide the education and marine management skills needed to protect the state’s marine environment.
For SPC students and faculty, the appointment means greater access to marine research vessels such as the R/V Weatherbird II and the R/V Bellows, both of which drew international attention during the scientific response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Additionally, students and faculty can use the FIO’s Keys Marine Laboratory, one of Florida’s premier marine science education laboratories located on Long Key.
“The Natural Science department is very pleased that St. Petersburg College has been elected to be an Associate Member of the Florida Institute of Oceanography,” said John Vaughan, dean of Natural Sciences. “Membership will provide us with improved opportunities for networking, sharing resources and mentors to facilitate student learning and supporting undergraduate research. It is an honor to be the first State College to be included as a member of FIO.”
SPC is one of six new public or private marine science education and research institutes to join the FIO. The FIO Council voted at their Jan. 26 council meeting to admit five associate members and one affiliate member, joining 20 current members.
“The FIO continues to demonstrate that it is both a system-wide asset and a wealth of expertise and research talent unrivaled in most states – particularly at this level of collaborative partnership considering the sheer numbers of public and private sector entities engaged,” said State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan.
The new members were approved based on criteria that include: a significant presence in Florida, a primary focus of marine science education and research and demonstrated ability to bring tangible support to FIO.
During its history, FIO has played a leading role in introducing Florida public school students and university undergraduates to marine science through educational outreach efforts and professional enhancement programs for teachers.
SPC joins Florida’s 11 state universities and nine other marine science entities in the FIO, including: Eckerd College; Florida Sea Grant College; University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute; Florida Institute of Technology; Mote Marine Laboratory; Nova Southeastern University; and the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.