JU Joins FIO

Christina Kelso

The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) has voted to grant acceptance to Jacksonville University, along with six other marine science education and research institutes, to its organizational membership.

The vote occurred at the FIO council meeting on Jan. 26, according to a JU press release. The admitted institutions included five associate members and one affiliate member. The associates are Jacksonville University, St. Petersburg College, University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute and Stanford Research Institute in St. Petersburg. The affiliate member is Roffer’s Ocean Fishing.

The criteria for selection of new members, according to the press release, consisted of factors such as a significant presence in Florida, primary focus on marine science education and research and a demonstrated ability to bring tangible support to FIO.

The newly accepted, while not allowed to place votes on the FIO Advisory Council, will be joining the organization’s current members of public and private academic and marine research institutes in their research endeavors and projects. According to the FIO website, the current members before the new additions consist of eleven state universities and nine other marine science organizations.

The FIO, hosted by USF, is now in its 45th year and has unified marine science interests across Florida with the intent of increasing understanding and care of coastal oceans, according to the organization’s website.

With a hands on approach, the institutions making up the FIO pool together marine research and education resources in order to address challenges facing the surrounding ocean environments.

Marine science students within FIO entwined institutions are provided with extended opportunities for onsite education. According to the FIO education statement, the organization hosts students from member institutions each year onboard their vessels; the R/V Weatherbird II and R/V Bellows will serve as floating environmental classrooms.

For some JU marine science students, the school’s entrance to the organization brings forth a wave of enthusiasm.

“I feel like the education will be more amazing now that we have been accepted,” said Lauren Wilson, a freshman and marine science major.

What this means for the JU Marine Science Research Institute in practical application has yet to unfold, but the addition puts into place a promising network of resources. This holds potential for increased involvement opportunities in large-scale projects for students and faculty.