Over the past five decades, the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island has grown to become a fully equipped research and education center. On Saturday, the institute unveils a new, advanced facility, just in time for its 50th anniversary celebration.
The center’s research greenhouse can house two types of projects: One side has been designed for work with saltwater algae and shellfish and the other for freshwater hydroponics and plants.
“We will use the marine side of the greenhouse for shellfish culture,” said Dennis Hedgecock, Paxson H. Offield Professor in Fisheries Ecology and professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Hedgecock and his colleague Donal Manahan, professor of biological sciences and vice dean for students at USC Dornsife, lead the Future of Food from the Sea initiative, a shellfish aquaculture research program with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies.
The other half of the greenhouse will be used for projects related to plants and will house a new system for aquaponics — the “hydroculture” of plants in water without soil and the “aquaculture” of fish — harboring both within the same enclosed recirculating system.
The center has plans to create a large aquaponics teaching lab funded by a gift from the Thornton Family Foundation, said Diane Kim, director of undergraduate programs for the USC Wrigley Institute.
The greenhouse will be officially unveiled Saturday at the Wrigley Marine Science Center’s 50th anniversary open house at Catalina Island. As part of the day’s festivities, greenhouse tours and research talks will take place.
The day’s family-friendly activities include “flying” a remotely operated underwater vehicle in the cove; a touch tank for getting up close with local marine creatures; and tracking leopard sharks with an autonomous underwater vehicle.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. An acknowledgment read during the Aug. 5 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council was spearheaded by Councilmember Paul Krekorian ’81, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at USC Dornsife.