News Release

Gift to Unique Marine Research Facility Honors Family Legacy


MIAMI, April 4, 2013 —The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science has received a $5 million gift to name the new Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. Surge-Structure-Atmosphere Interaction (SUSTAIN) research facility at the school’s new state-of-the-art  Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex. The transformational gift from the Glassell Family Foundation honors the late Rosenstiel School benefactor, businessman, and avid fisherman Alfred C. Glassell, Jr.

The complex, scheduled to open in late 2013 on the school’s Virginia Key campus, will feature the Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. SUSTAIN Building and Laboratory, which will be home to a unique wind-wave-storm surge simulator capable of generating Category 5 hurricane force winds in a three-dimensional test environment that includes a 28,000-gallon tank. Such studies will ultimately help to improve weather forecasting and guide construction of safer coastal structures.

“My father had a great enjoyment and love of the Gulf Coast and the South Florida area,” says Alfred C. Glassell, III, “and this building and the work conducted there will benefit the entire region.” The adjoining Marine Life Sciences Building will provide a dedicated space for maintaining and studying living marine animals and ecosystems. Initial funding for the complex was obtained through a $15 million grant from the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

The proposed complex will serve as a distinctive resource for oceanographers, meteorologists, marine physicists, and engineers to study natural and manmade coastal structures and extreme weather phenomena. It will also allow marine biologists and geneticists to study various species of marine life that might help to improve human health. This funding was awarded as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

On June 7, 2012, the Rosenstiel School broke ground on the project. The complex is part of the University of Miami’s ongoing Momentum2 campaign.

“We are very grateful to the Glassell Family for their long-term support of the Rosenstiel School, and would like to acknowledge Alfred C. Glassell, III in particular for his commitment in providing the matching funds required to advance construction on this important project,” said Roni Avissar, dean of the Rosenstiel School and professor of meteorology and physical oceanography. “As recent events with Hurricane Sandy indicate, we need more information on hurricanes and other storms as well as storm surge. The Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. SUSTAIN Building and Laboratory will serve as a resource for the world scientific community that can help us to advance critical science that will save and improve lives.”

The Marine Life Sciences Building, located in the new complex, will provide a dedicated space for maintaining and studying living marine animals, including several species of fish and corals. Cutting-edge coral reef research, for which the Rosenstiel School is renowned, will focus on helping to assess and measure the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on global reef-building processes. The space will also house the NIH-funded National Resource for Aplysia, the only facility in the world that cultures and raises sea hares (Aplysia californica) for scientific research in aging, memory, and learning.

Fundraising for the new Marine Life Sciences Building is still under way. For more information on the project, naming opportunities, or to get involved, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu/seawater.


Richard Cote
A rendering of the Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex, which is scheduled for completion in late 2013. Philanthropic gifts for the state-of-the-art facility are being sought through the Momentum2 campaign.