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First Minister opens new Scottish Oceans Institute

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Monday 30 September 2019) officially opened the new Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) building at the University of St Andrews.

The SOI is a world leader in interdisciplinary research studying the marine environment which forms a key focus for research excellence in the marine sciences. Research interests range from the deep oceans to the coasts, and from the people who use and interact with the sea to the biological and physical processes that make the oceans function.

SOI develops scholarship, commercialisation of research and advanced-level teaching delivered through contributing academic Schools at the University of St Andrews.

The SOI is located on the site of the original ‘Gatty Marine Laboratory’ by St Andrews’ East Sands which was opened in 1896. Since then, science has grown in scale and influence, with the world-leading Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) transferring to St Andrews from the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge in 1996 and the formation of the SOI in 2009, together recognised as one of the most dynamic marine research centres in the world.

The new £16.5m SOI building incorporates a state-of-the-art aquarium as well as researching and teaching facilities. This will create a global hub for marine research by bringing together research colleagues in one building and will also accommodate visiting scientists and enhance facilities for outreach work. The centre will also house a visitor centre to engage children and adults and promote public understanding of the world’s oceans.

Opening the new SOI, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “St Andrews has an excellent reputation for world class research and developing international collaborations.

“The Scottish Oceans Institute very much helps reinforce that reputation and its work on marine science will help ensure that our marine environment continues to be well managed while sharing learning and best practice.”

St Andrews Principal Professor Sally Mapstone said: “The Scottish Oceans Institute enjoys a global reputation as a leader in the study of the marine environment. The facilities at the new centre of excellence will further enhance St Andrews’ world standing in the field of marine sciences research and advanced teaching, and will provide wonderful opportunities too for our local community and our visitors.”

SOI Director Professor Vincent Janik said: “The new SOI building has brought all our marine scientists under one roof, facilitating daily interactions that will lead to innovative and new research. The new aquarium is a research facility of the highest standards and we are very excited to use it in expanding our work on how human activities affect our oceans.”

The capacity to realise this vision is owed to the generous support of more than 200 supporters and alumni who donated to the SOI building, including lead donations from the Scottish Funding Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, The Wolfson Foundation, The Sol Goldman Charitable Trust, Mrs Beverley and Mr Frank MacInnis, Alexander J Roepers, Mr Tim and Mrs Kim Allan, Mr J Michael Buchanan, Sally Connally Hardie and Donald Hardie OBE, Mr Olivier Sarkozy, and Mr Kevin Magee and Ms Elizabeth McGuirk-Magee.


For more information visit the Scottish Oceans Institute website.

Photo caption (left to right): Professor Lorna Milne, Master and Deputy Principal, University of St Andrews; Professor Ailsa Hall, Director, Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), University of St Andrews; Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews; First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; Professor Vincent Janik, Director, Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), University of St Andrews

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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