The launch of “OCEARCH at Jacksonville University” announced February 9 puts the University and its namesake city on the world stage for student-centric marine science learning, while providing one of the global leaders in ocean species research a premier academic home with resources to expand for years to come.

The collaboration of JU and OCEARCH, an internationally recognized research effort dedicated to the study of keystone marine species like great white and tiger sharks, creates a natural fit between a renowned at-sea laboratory and a stellar marine science academic partner located at the nexus of an important great white shark habitat and migration area.

“I am very excited for this new chapter for OCEARCH,” said OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader Chris Fischer, who will take on the role of Explorer in Residence at JU. “The vision for OCEARCH was always to institutionalize it so it could live beyond any one individual. This is the first step to having OCEARCH serve scientists, students, communities, the ocean and the planet in perpetuity.”

OCEARCH at Jacksonville University will foster a wide range of new educational opportunities outside the classroom for Jacksonville University students. The research vessel M/V OCEARCH’s more than 200 sharks tagged and dozens of special research expeditions from South Africa to the Galapagos Islands to Australia over the past decade are unparalleled among researchers in the field.

“Jacksonville University has always offered students incredible opportunities to understand marine science, but with this new partnership, we are taking that opportunity to the next level,” said Dr. Quinton White, executive director of the Marine Science Research Institute. “We have the ocean in our backyard, which is really going to help the success of OCEARCH at Jacksonville University.”

The one-of-a-kind learning opportunity will extend beyond just Marine Sciences students. With an emphasis on scientific inquiry, experiential learning, innovation and sustainability, OCEARCH at Jacksonville University will offer hands-on experience to JU students in other disciplines such as marketing, public policy, film, engineering, aviation, sustainability, communications, business and environmental sciences.

“We are very proud of this collaboration,” said Jacksonville University President Tim Cost. “Not only will this partnership give our students extraordinary opportunities, it will expand the strength of the Marine Sciences program, making it a robust platform for scientific research and advance our University’s mission to be nationally and internationally recognized for such unique programs and student success. We expect it will attract worldwide recognition to the Northeast Florida region as an academic and research hub.”

Under the new collaboration, the M/V OCEARCH will be home-ported in Jacksonville, and JU will bring on a preeminent shark scholar to its current marine sciences faculty. OCEARCH will also reap numerous benefits from the partnership, as OCEARCH at Jacksonville University will sustain one of the world’s leading gatherers of scientific data, allowing it to grow and flourish in its new institutional home. The partnership brings strength to OCEARCH’s structure as it continues to conduct new studies and collect additional information that will aid in the preservation of ocean life.

Located on the banks of the St. Johns River and a quick trip away from the Atlantic Ocean, JU is also home to the Marine Science Research Institute, which offers real-world research experience on the environment and sustainable practices to preserve the future.

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