UNH receives $5.5M for estuary lab improvements, energy resilience & space education

Monday, April 4, 2022
Aerial image of Jackson Estuarine Lab and Great Bay.

UNH is set to receive nearly $5.5 million in federal funding to support research, education and energy resilience in the region.

The 2022 omnibus spending bill recently passed by Congress specifically provides funding for three UNH-related initiatives: $3.8 million will expand and renovate the Jackson Estuarine Lab (JEL); $1.15M will support the Oyster River Energy Resiliency Project (ORRP); and $501,000 will support the Space Weather Underground (SWUG) program. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured funding for these projects through the congressionally directed spending process.

Using this federal funding, JEL, which was built in 1971 at Adams Point on Great Bay, will be expanded by 4,000 square feet. This new space will include a state-of-the-art water quality lab for real-time monitoring of the health of Great Bay Estuary and a new high bay space for marine operations, aquaculture systems and diving operations, as well as a new convening space to support federal, state and community engagement and coordination.

“We are incredibly excited for the opportunities this funding will create for the Jackson Estuarine Lab and our broader marine community,” said Diane Foster, director of the School of Marine Sciences and Ocean Engineering. “The expansion and facilities enhancements will ensure the lab is well positioned to continue serving the region as a valued partner in meeting our shared coastal management challenges.”

The ORRP is a proposed community-centric microgrid of various energy sources, including solar and battery technology, that will connect UNH and the town of Durham. This grid will act as an island to ensure that both the town and campus will have power during extreme weather events. The new federal funding will help to enhance the current power management system so that it can be integrated into the ORRP microgrid in the future, and will also support new electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Federal funding for the SWUG program, which is part of UNH’s Space Science Center, will help build student interest in space research through hands-on experience. Magnetometers — instruments that help scientists understand how Earth’s geomagnetic environment responds to space weather generated by the sun — are built and tested by students as part of this program, giving them the opportunity to participate in space science research.

The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill was signed into law on March 15, 2022.

Scott Ripley | UNH Marketing | scott.ripley@unh.edu | 603-862-1855