New Gift Advances Major Bigelow Laboratory Expansion


Construction has moved full steam ahead on Bigelow Laboratory’s transformative new center for ocean education and innovation since the October groundbreaking ceremony. Fundraising for the new center, which is expected to continue through the summer, received its latest boost in February with a gift of $250,000 dollars from the William Procter Scientific Innovation Fund.

“This new center will strengthen Bigelow Laboratory’s role as a nexus of marine science activity, not just in Maine but around the world,” said Bigelow Laboratory President and CEO Deborah Bronk. “This wouldn’t be possible without supporters like the Innovation Fund that recognize the value of this investment to advance scientific understanding and seek solutions to pressing global challenges.”

The centerpiece of the $30 million investment is a 25,000-square-foot addition to the institute’s campus in East Boothbay, Maine. The new space will include dedicated teaching labs and classrooms, new laboratories, and a flexible forum space for community outreach and scientific collaboration.

The new center also includes resources to advance the institute’s education and solutions-focused work in other meaningful ways. On the research side, new funding will encourage creative, bold thinking and enable advances in green business innovation. Endowed seed funding will help support promising, early-stage ideas, and the creation of additional research groups will foster new interdisciplinary science. Meanwhile, the investment will allow Bigelow Laboratory to enrich its education programs and increase access to those programs with additional teaching space and a newly created marine educator position.

Construction on the new center began with a groundbreaking celebration on Oct. 12 that brought together over 200 supporters and community leaders, including several members of Maine’s congressional delegation. Dr. Wendy Wolf, current chair of the Bigelow Laboratory Board of Trustees called the groundbreaking “an exciting inflection point for the lab.” U.S. Senator Susan Collins called it a “wonderful way to launch that birthday celebration,” highlighting the significance of this investment as the institute approaches its 50-year anniversary in July 2024.

Completion of the expansion is slated for spring 2025. Construction and future maintenance are being supported by philanthropic funds, including the recent gift, as well as federal funding through the National Institute of Standards and Technology 2023 Construction Grant Program.

“Understanding the foundations of global ocean health has never been more important, and when it comes to the study of ocean microbes, there is no finer institute than this one,” Bronk said. “This center will help us build on 50 years of success with new resources to inspire the next generation of ocean leaders and strengthen our coastal communities, ecosystems, and economy.”