Based in coastal East Boothbay in Maine, the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a renowned center of marine research. The private, nonprofit laboratory focuses on factors driving global ocean ecosystems and their evolution.
“That means microorganisms including phytoplankton, marine bacteria and viruses,” says Mark Bloom, director of Corporate Alliances and Technology Transfer.
The Laboratory also explores the large-scale biogeochemical processes that compel interactions between ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions.
“We’re always engaged in about a dozen ongoing research projects conducted by senior research scientists who seek funding from the federal government, primarily the National Science Foundation, which supports oceanographic research,” Bloom says.
Maine has also been involved in financial support. In 2009, the Maine Technology Institute, which encourages business development on the scientific side, provided funding to help construct a new scientific wing, one of three now at the lab's complex.
The Bigelow Laboratory’s research has near-term, mid-term and long-term impact.
“For the near term, the hope is for economic development via partnering with industry on projects with aquaculture companies, developing marine natural products,” Bloom says. “For the mid- and long-term, we look at the impact that marine microorganisms could have on the Earth and climate.”
Practical applications include climate models and fishery management. Data gleaned can influence policymakers.
“Also for the long-term, we conduct large-scale experiments to model specific changes in the climate and the ocean,” says Bloom. “That means we’re looking 50 to 100 years ahead.”