Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center receives National Science Foundation grant to buy new laboratory equipment
Senior Marine Scientist Suzanne Strom of Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center has received $182,413 to buy new scientific equipment for the WWU laboratory in Anacortes.
The grant comes from a program at the National Science Foundation called Improvements to Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSMLs), which aims to fund facilities focused on research and education conducted in natural habitats.
The new equipment will be used to culture and observe small marine organisms. The current set-up for this type of work at the Shannon Point Marine Center is outdated and requires frequent troubleshooting and replacement of parts.
Among the equipment purchased with the grant is a new flow cytometer, a device that holds fluid in a very small stream and shines lasers on the particles in that fluid. This will allow researchers to observe single-cell organisms very closely. Analyzing the way that the light bounces off the cells, they can retrieve information about the type, size, and other characteristics of the cell they’re looking at.
Strom said she hopes the new equipment will provide ease, efficiency, and opportunities for students to get involved.
“You'll be able to get quantitative data out of it much more easily. It will be much more student friendly,” said Strom.
Strom said she is hoping to be able to take the flow cytometer with her on her research trips to Alaska. Three times a year, Strom travels with a team of other researchers to study the ecosystem in the Gulf of Alaska in association with the Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER). The new flow cytometer will be much lighter and smaller than the previous version, allowing scientists to take it with them into the field or onboard a research vessel.