SCMI: The Researchers Helping AltaSea Create the Oceans’ Future

February 16, 2017

By Jenny Cornuelle Krusoe

Walking the ocean shore, most people see waves, birds and, if we’re lucky, sea-going mammals such as sea lions, dolphins or even whales. But Dr. Daniel Pondella, director of the Southern California Marine Institute in Los Angeles, sees so much more.

And because he sees more, Dr. Pondella truly understands the unique and powerful potential of a major marine lab built on deep-water facilities in Los Angeles. Such a lab can help transform one of the region’s most valuable assets, its very busy ports, into a gateway beyond commerce to new kinds of research and sustainable ocean-based industries.

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And so, under Dr. Pondella’s leadership, SCMI has partnered with AltaSea to create just that, on the Port of Los Angeles wharf long known as City Dock 1.

When it opened in 1913, the dock turned on a spigot for the entire Southern California economy, through which billions of dollars of international commerce now pour each year.

 Dr. Pondella still recalls a field trip 44 years ago, when his elementary-school class stopped at a gritty Port of Los Angeles wharf. He remembers that visit for a simple reason: “That was the day I decided to become a marine biologist.”

Now he’s working with AltaSea to transform another aging Port of Los Angeles wharf, known as City Dock 1, into a crucial part of the port’s future. Together, we’re working to diversify the job base, superpower research and STEM-focused education, and incubate ocean-based sustainable industries and companies.

AltaSea plans to transform Warehouse 57 on the dock into a research facility known as the Science Hub, with SCMI as anchor tenant. The Science Hub will house top scientists pursuing breakthrough ocean-related research and solutions.

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The state-of-the-art facilities and shared spaces will help great minds conceptualize, identify, understand and address the most pressing issues facing the ocean today.

SCMI members will base labs at the revamped dock, using its deep-water access and updated facilities to explore Pacific Ocean currents, seek solutions to pollution and coastal erosion, and investigate the lives and impacts of sea creatures ranging from microscopic bacteria to 130-ton blue whales.

The consortium represents 22 universities, colleges and foundations in Southern California, including nine from the California State University system that are part of the Ocean Studies Institute (Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Pomona, San Bernardino and San Marcos). SCMI also includes the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, UCLA, Occidental College, the Los Angeles Community College District, and The Bay Foundation.

Dr. Pondella, the director since 2012, is now focused on updating SCMI’s infrastructure to improve scientific collaboration while leveraging the AltaSea buildout to benefit the member institutions’ research initiatives with shared collaborative spaces.

Such shared spaces are not only more efficient, but also encourage more powerful cooperation and innovation, better support services and many other benefits, according to a 2011 report by The Nonprofit Centers Network.

By emphasizing discovery, collaboration and research, the Science Hub can help build a more sustainable future that benefits the entire planet.  At AltaSea, we’re delighted to partner with Dr. Pondella and SCMI to make that vision happen.

Jenny Cornuelle Krusoe is the executive director of AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles. Krusoe, a California native based in San Pedro, has a national reputation as a nonprofit executive and senior advisor on organizational and program design and fund development. Krusoe has been a member of the leadership team since the innovative ocean sustainability and marine science campus was first conceived.

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