Marine Science Lab Receives $1.125M from Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation

Baby sea turtle

(Photo by Alex Dolce)

By brittany sylvestri | 6/16/2020

Florida Atlantic University has officially announced a $1.125 million gift from The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation. The gift will establish the Glenn W. and Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation Marine SEA Scholars Program at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science’s Marine Science Laboratory in the Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex in Boca Raton. 

The monies will support a cohort of scientists-in-training, comprised of one post-doctoral fellow, three graduate students and five undergraduate students supervised by Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D., director of FAU’s Marine Science Laboratory and professor of biological sciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. The program will create opportunities for the cohort to collaborate across the areas of science, education and art.

“This gift will allow for the next generation of marine scientists to ensure that important work and discovery will continue for generations to come as evolving impacts to the marine ecosystem continue,” said Ata Sarajedini, Ph.D., dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

FAU’s Marine Science Laboratory is home to diverse marine studies, many focused on the fundamental understanding of sea turtles and environmental impacts. The lab frequently hosts neonate marine turtles between one week to a few months in order to allow research that supports conservation to be completed. FAU students learn about the turtles, participate in the research and become unofficial spokespersons for the unique lab. 

With more than 30 years of expertise studying the biology and conservation of sea turtles, Wyneken's research programs address some of the fundamental questions in the field that require the turtles to temporarily join the lab. Her long-term studies of nest temperatures and primary sex ratios show how species differ in their responses to changing climate and weather conditions.  Other work to understand the neonate requirements of the highly specialized, delicate and endangered leatherback sea turtles is unique to the FAU lab.

“This gift will provide amazing opportunities for marine biologists-in-training to gain hands on experiences in the science and the communication of science.” said Wyneken. “The combination of students at different stages of their education promotes an influx of energy and innovation and creates a culture of expertise-sharing and team-building.”

FAU’s Marine Science Laboratory at Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex was built in 1990. FAU partnered with the City of Boca Raton to enable FAU marine scientists to create a special learning environment for faculty and students, enabling them to collaborate and expand their environmental research and education. In 2002, FAU created a visitors’ gallery, later adding graduate student docents to educate the public about the current research being conducted. Last year more than 170,000 visitors from all over the world toured the gallery.  

The vision of the FAU Marine Science Laboratory is to create opportunities for students to become scientists by learning from internationally recognized faculty in a setting that provides hands-on experience and engages them in educating the community about its oceans, beaches and marine life. 

Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D.

Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D.