About Bigelow

Our mission is to investigate the microbial drivers of global ocean processes through basic and applied research, education, and enterprise. What we are learning will be essential to the conservation and responsible use of the ocean and the many valuable services it provides.

Research at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is organized around three core themes of Blue Biotechnology, Ocean Biogeochemistry and Climate Change, and Ocean Health. The Laboratory's 60,000 square-foot, shore-based campus is located in East Boothbay, Maine, on the Damariscotta River estuary. In December 2012, the campus became the first LEED Platinum certified laboratory in Maine and one of seven in the New England area. The Laboratory was recently rated one of the top 10 places to work in Maine.

Named for Henry Bryant Bigelow, a visionary scientist and pioneer of modern oceanography, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences was founded in 1974 as a private, non-profit research institution. Henry Bigelow's approach to oceanography stressed the interdependence of the biological, chemical and physical sciences. This perspective has served as a cornerstone of our programs throughout our history.

The majority of the Laboratory's funding comes from federal and state grants and contracts, licenses and contracts with the private sector, and philanthropic support. Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences supports the work of over 70 scientists and staff. The Laboratory also maintains a library open to the public both in East Boothbay and at McKown Point in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in collaboration with the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

The Laboratory’s primary research focus is on the microbial life and biogeochemical dynamics of the world’s ocean, advancing society’s understanding of the interactions between ocean ecosystems, global processes, and the environment. The Laboratory’s education programs include undergraduate training through a semester program offered in affiliation with Colby College, and a National Science Foundation-funded summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. The Laboratory is also the home to several service facilities, including the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA), the Single Cell Genomics Center (SCGC), and the J.J. MacIsaac Facility for Aquatic Cytometry.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences’ strength lies in the expertise and dedication of our senior research scientists, science and administrative staff, and the support of our Board of Trustees and Trustees' Advisory Board, donors, and friends.

Strategic Plan

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has developed a roadmap for the next five years. The Laboratory’s Board of Trustees and Senior Research Scientists unanimously endorsed a detailed strategic plan that outlines specific ways the Laboratory will advance and grow its research, education, and enterprise activities through 2020. The plan is available for download here.

Among the highlights of the plan include investing in its senior scientists and their staff to ensure that they have the resources needed to succeed, achieving a greater presence in international scientific planning and global research programs, strengthening technology transfer, and fee-for- service applications, expanding educational programs, and increasing outreach efforts to explain why the ocean and microscopic life matter.

“Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences possesses all the ingredients for a successful future as evidenced by our 40 years of contributions to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the microbial life of the oceans,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Herbert Paris in the plan’s introduction. “I am confident that the Laboratory will continue as a global leader in microbial oceanography and as a preeminent ocean research and education institution, known for advancing knowledge of marine ecosystems, innovative scientific applications, and sharing knowledge to help educate and inform decision making over the next five years and beyond.”

Over the period of the last Strategic Plan (2009-2014), the Laboratory achieved a number of advances including the building of a new campus and laboratory facilities in East Boothbay, the establishment of an Academic Partnership with Colby College, and the hiring of eight new Senior Research Scientists in new areas of ocean discovery, and the establishment of three Centers of Discovery—the Ocean Microbiome and Blue Biotechnology Center, the Ocean Biogeochemistry and Climate Change Center, and the Center for Ocean Health.