Hundreds gather for opening of MESOM lab in La Jolla Shores

Attendees and officials from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the MESOM dedication ceremony.
Attendees and officials from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the MESOM dedication ceremony.
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The dedication ceremony for the new MESOM laboratory building at Scripps Institution of Oceanography included (from left) Cammie Ingram, Scripps’ director of capital programs and space management; Gary Matthews, UCSD's vice-chancellor for resource management and planning; Scripps’ Interim Director, Prof. Cathy Constable; UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla; and Willie May and Mike Diestel with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Scripps’ MESOM laboratory

■ What: Located on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus, UCSD’s Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling (MESOM) Laboratory will house researchers who study coastal ecosystems and fisheries to provide information that can help predict a coastal ecosystem’s response to climate change.

■ Where: 8880 Biological Grade (off La Jolla Shores Drive)

■ Size: Three stories, 40,100 square feet

■ Labs: 12

■ Offices: 15

■ Total staff: 76

■ Cost: $26.5 million

■ Notable: The building is on track to become the first research facility at UCSD to be awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

By Pat Sherman and Ashley Mackin

An invitation-only dedication ceremony for Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s new Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling (MESOM) laboratory drew a crowd on June 14.

The three-story, 40,100-square-foot building is located directly across La Jolla Shores Drive from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 240,000-square- foot Southwest Fisheries Science Center building, which opened in April.

During the ceremony, UC San Diego and Scripps’ officials heralded the collaborative nature of the work to be conducted at the new ocean research facilities. Motioning to the five-story Southwest Fisheries building, Scripps’ Interim Director Cathy Constable touted the “extraordinary scientific achievements that lie ahead” for both research organizations, adding that the MESOM lab would provide “greater interaction with our NOAA colleagues across the street.”

“They have a great location there where they can supervise everything we do by looking down on us,” Constable quipped, noting Scripps’ and NOAA’s collaboration on the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) program, which will have a lab in the MESOM building.

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Attendees and officials from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the MESOM dedication ceremony.

CalCOFI was formed in 1949 to study the sardine population collapse off the California coast. As the population rebounded, the program’s focus shifted to the general study of the marine environment off the coast, the monitoring of its living resources and indicators of El Niño and climate change. The lab conducts quarterly research cruises from San Diego as far north as San Francisco to collect data on ocean temperature, salinity, oxygen levels, plankton levels and other information at depths of up to 500 meters.

“We’re trying to establish the health of the food chain and the relative amounts (of various plankton) in different areas in different seasons,” explained CalCOFI’s David Wolgast, during a tour of the facility, noting that their research is used to establish catch quotas for sardine fishing.

Addressing those in attendance, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said the collabor- ative research to take place at the MESOM lab is what the university is increasingly known for, which he said involves the re- moval of boundaries and bureaucracy that often slow the research process.

“My job as chancellor is to make sure this bureaucracy in fact speeds up the process of collaboration,” Khosla said. “I think the existence, the creation of this building is going to have an impact not just for Scripps Institution of Oceanography, but for UCSD as a whole.”

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