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New research space set for Steele Ocean Sciences Building

- September 27, 2017

OFI Chief Operating Officer Dan Jackson in the future research space in the Steele Ocean Sciences Building. (Danny Abriel photo)
OFI Chief Operating Officer Dan Jackson in the future research space in the Steele Ocean Sciences Building. (Danny Abriel photo)

The Steele Ocean Sciences Building (SOSB) is normally a quiet place as its tenants diligently focus on their tasks.

The Ocean Tracking Network monitors more than 140 commercially-important and endangered species. The CERC Laboratory team develops new technologies to measure ocean changes. MEOPAR is creating a network of marine observation, prediction and response. And in the Aquatron, scientists and students study fish and other marine life.

While that important work will continue, the office environment where they operate will soon change, as construction crews convert the unfinished space on the third and fourth floors of the SOSB into high-tech research areas that will support ocean science.

In total, approximately 16,000 square feet over the two floors will be converted into new science labs, office and meeting space. In addition, construction plans call for opening the pedestrian bridges that link the SOSB with the Life Sciences Centre’s Oceanography tower.

Support for Dal's ocean leadership


The work is being financed through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant awarded to the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), a collaborative research initiative led by Dalhousie University and whose headquarters are housed in the SOSB. While the bulk of OFI’s funding is used to advance ocean research, a portion of its multi-year budget is earmarked to strengthen the infrastructure and facilities ocean scientists require.  

“It’s a short-term pain, long-term gain situation,” says Dan Jackson, OFI’s chief operating officer. “While construction will cause some disruption to those that work in the building, the end result will support leading-edge ocean research that will help enhance competitive advantages, spur growth and ensure ocean resources are developed and managed sustainably.

“The new facilities will also help attract the best and brightest to work — and study —at Dal, building our reputation as a leader in ocean studies, science and innovation,” adds Dr. Jackson.  

A phased approach


Construction on the third floor will start this fall, which will include:

  • A 1,100 square-foot marine geosciences lab
  • A 32-seat meeting room, with full video conferencing abilities
  • Two smaller meeting rooms
  • Office space for OFI staff, visiting fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE)
  • A kitchenette and lunchroom
  • Connection of the third-floor bridge to the Life Sciences Centre, including redevelopment of the Oceanography Department’s Riley Room.

Fourth floor construction is expected to begin in mid-2018. This phase of the project will include research laboratories, fully equipped with fridges, freezers, wash space, fume hoods, and multiple benches and microscope rooms. The labs will be open-concept style, allowing the work space to be modified in support of future growth and shared use.  


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