Improved Communications Network at Shoals Marine Lab

Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML), operated by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire, is in its 48th year of programs dedicated to marine research and education for undergraduates. Each summer, approximately 175 undergraduate students from all over the world participate in SML’s credit courses and research internship programs.   An additional 25 graduate students and researchers carry out thesis and long-term research on Appledore Island, a 95-acre island approximately six miles southeast of Portsmouth, NH in the Gulf of Maine. Appledore is an extraordinary physical location for exploring questions in field marine and island science with easy access to intertidal, subtidal, oceanic, and terrestrial habitats. It also offers opportunities to study sustainable engineering and the integration of power, water, and wastewater treatment systems at a scale that is approachable by students.

This project will support the upgrade and significant enhancement of communications and information technology (IT) at SML to support the research and educational mission of this field station. SML’s current IT infrastructure is nearly ten years old and is not able to support modern video-conferencing, video-dependent research, and mobile computing platforms. The improvements fall into three distinct communications categories including (1) the wide area network (WAN), (2) the local area network (LAN), and (3) major communications interfaces. The WAN improvements will establish a high-speed (50Mbps) symmetric microwave channel between the mainland and the island that will provide a fifty-fold increase in connectivity as compared to that in place on the island today. This will make high bandwidth communications applications possible, including video conferencing, remote control of devices on the island from anywhere in the world, and the movement of large amounts of research data to and from the island. LAN improvements will significantly improve how researchers, students, and staff on the island implement their work by providing fiber optic cable and high speed (100Mbps/1Gbps) LAN service across the island. The addition of major communications platforms, specifically two outdoor remote IP cameras and two Polycom video conferencing units, will provide direct support for research by students and mentoring of students.