The MNS Building Facilities and Equipment

Opened in the Fall of 1997 and funded in part by a $2 million Federal grant, the 40,000-square foot MNS building is home to the University's science and mathematics departments. MNS houses state-of-the art laboratories, the marine biology wet lab with flowing sea water from the Mount Hope Bay, a saltwater learning platform, computer facilities, lecture halls and faculty offices.  The Luther Blount Shellfish Hatchery and the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory were added to the building in 2009 as part of a multi-million dollar renovation.

The MNS Building Contains:

  • Classrooms/Lecture Halls
  • Departments of Biology, Marine Biology & Environmental Science, Chemistry & Physics, and Mathematics
  • Faculty Offices (Sciences and Mathematics)
  • Greenhouses
  • Laboratories
  • Marine Biology Wet Lab
  • Luther Blount Shellfish Hatchery
  • Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory

The Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory was founded in 2009 with the help of Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed.  Its mission is to support aquaculture and associated aquatic animal industries by providing diagnostic services to the aquaculture industry, extension agents and regulators both in Rhode Island and other northeastern states. 

The laboratory focuses on diseases of aquatic animals including fish and shellfish of all types, with a concentration on diseases of bivalve mollusks.  We use traditional pathological diagnostic methods combined with cutting edge molecular techniques.

The laboratory engages in externally funded, aquatic animal health research and trains RWU marine biology students in aquatic animal health diagnostic and care methods using the very latest technology.

For more information visit the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory

Located on the ground floor of the Marine and Natural Sciences Building is the Marine Biology Wet Lab, a 3000 square foot research space housing many undergraduate and faculty research projects, as well as most of the RWU aquaculture projects. The wet lab features flowing sea water, pumped directly from Mt. Hope Bay, and offers many work-study opportunities to RWU students.

Current faculty and student projects include:

  • Marine ornamental aquaculture: investigating the feasibility of farming tropical marine species for the aquarium trade. The current focus is on clownfish, peppermint shrimp and seahorses, with several other species to be added soon.
  • The effects of temperature on reproduction and juvenile growth and survival of the lined seahorse.
  • The effects of green water culture on survival of larval peppermint shrimp
  • Optimal culture methods for: seahorses, mysid shrimp, calanoid copepods
  • Shellfish hatchery producing seeds of quahogs and oysters for local restoration projects. This project may branch out to include razor and surf clams, scallops, and mussels
  • The effectiveness of calcein as a marker for juvenile winter flounder for stock assessment purposes
  • Trophic ecology of jellies

For more information:

Lena Fitzgerald 
Aquaculture & Aquarium Science Lab Manager
MNS 108, Wet Lab

RWU operates the only shellfish hatchery in Rhode Island and produces shellfish seed for a variety of projects, including restoration and academic research. This facility, established in January 2004 and expanded in 2009, also provides the infrastructure used in aquaculture training opportunities for our students and the general public.
Shellfish Restoration Efforts

  • Blount Oyster Pond, Prudence Island (Narragansett Bay Shellfish Restoration Foundation - NBSRF)
  • Jenny’s Creek Oyster Restoration Program (NBSRF)
  • Quahog Restoration, Rhode Island Shellfisherman’s Association
  • Bay Scallop Culture

Biological Research Initiatives

  • Bay Scallop Habitat Model, EPA
  • Bay Scallop Dissolved Oxygen Tolerance, RIDEM/NOAA/NMFS
  • Supplying shellfish seed for graduate students at regional universities

Undergraduate Research

  • Breeding bay scallops
  • Hatchery production of remote set oysters
  • Mass production of phytoplankton using polyethelene bags
  • Nursery culture of oysters grown on strings in Blount oyster pond
  • Analysis of high lipid diets for bay scallops
  • Investigating predation of oysters on Reef BallTM structures set with oysters

Extending 200 feet into Mount Hope Bay, The Learning Platform gives faculty and students direct access to the waters of Naragansett Bay for water sampling and biological collecting. Utilized by classes and for research, the Platform is the launch site for RWU's two research vessels and houses the pumping house for the Wet Lab's running seawater.

On the end of the learning platform is an integrated meteorological and water quality monitoring station. The station measures wind speed and direction, air temperature, pressure, solar irradiance, water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, and chlorophyll concentration every 15 minutes. RWU is part of a larger consortium that monitors water quality in Narragansett Bay. The consortium is coordinated by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).

 The department maintains a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art instrumentation for use in instruction and faculty and student research. Current equipment includes:

  • Hewlett-Packard 8453 Diode Array Spectrophotometer
  • Nicolet 380 Thermo FT-IR Spectrophotometer
  • Varian Cary 5000 UV-Vis/NIR Spectrophotometer
  • Jobin-Yvon Horiba Fluorolog 3 Fluorescence Spectrophotometer
  • Continuum Minilite Nd-YAG nanosecond lifetime apparatus
  • JEOL EXQ 300 MHz FT-NMR Spectrometer
  • BAS CV-50W Voltammetric Analyzer
  • Milestone DMA 80 Mercury Analyzer
  • Perkin-Elmer Flame/Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer
  • ISCO 2350/2360 Gradient HPLC
  • Buck Scientific BLC 10/11 HPLC w/UV and electrochemical detectors
  • Varian Prostar HPLC w/UV and fluorescence detectors
  • Waters Integrity LC-MS System
  • Waters Alliance LC-MS System