Science and Technology Research Institutes

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Worldwide research into a sea of opportunity

East Boothbay, ME


Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is an independent, non-profit research institute that is advancing what is known about the ocean through basic and applied research, education, and enterprise. Our mission is to increase understanding of microscopic marine life, how they function and affect global processes, and how the ocean and life within it are responding to changing conditions.

Marine microbes produce half the oxygen we breathe. They are the base of the food chain, and offer the potential for new lifesaving drugs, nutritional supplements, and fuel sources and can help mitigate the effects of climate change. From the Gulf of Maine to tropical reefs, and from pole to pole, our Senior Research Scientists' investigations are yielding insights in every ocean basin on the planet.

Ruling Year


President and CEO

Dr. Deborah Bronk

Main Address

60 Bigelow Drive

East Boothbay, ME 04544 USA


Marine research and education, oceanography, micro biology, environmental programs, biotechnology cial courses





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Marine Science and Oceanography (U21)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (C05)

Biological, Life Science Research includes Marine Biology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Biotechnology, etc.) (U50)

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Bigelow Laboratory is aiming to be a leading global ocean research and education institution, generating beneficial outcomes for society through increased knowledge of marine ecosystems, innovative scientific applications, and sharing knowledge that not only educates, but informs decision making.

By 2020, Bigelow Laboratory will have:
• An enhanced international reputation for scientific excellence
• Expanded funding sources to allow continued discovery
• A thriving practice as an applied research partner
• Informed public opinion and policy on ocean issues
• Recognition as an important contributor to Maine and beyond

Our strategic actions to make this happen are to:
• Increase the involvement, visibility, and support for our Senior Research Scientists and their staffs
• Actively participate in international scientific planning and global research programs
• Strengthen technology transfer and fee-for-service applications
• Improve communication and public outreach to explain why the ocean (and microscopic life) matters

We aim to meet the challenges that lie ahead in a shrinking funding environment and in the changing role of science in supporting industry, policy-making, regulation, and public opinion by capitalizing on our expertise, resources, cutting-edge technology and facilities to carve out a positive, productive, and sustainable way forward.

Maintaining excellence as an independent research and education institution in the face of the competitive environment outlined above, and buoyed by the successes achieved in our 2009-2014 strategic plan, the Laboratory has collectively developed a new Strategic Plan to guide our course in maintaining a thriving ocean research and education institution. Our success as an independent research institution will be the result of the quality and commitment of our scientists, research, technical, and administrative staff; the investment in infrastructure and advanced instrumentation; past experience with developing technology transfer and fee-for-service approaches to augment research; strong governance with well-connected Trustees; and a nimble approach to strategic decision making and implementation that is possible because of our size and self-governance.

We will evaluate our progress through a number of key measures of success. The data will be collected on an annual basis, often in parallel with the annual appraisal for individuals, or the Annual Report for the Laboratory. The personal performance metrics for Senior Research Scientists will be available to the full Senior Research and Board of Trustees committees, and the institutional performance metrics will be available publicly.

Detailed measures of success are available in our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan document, available here:

In the last Strategic Plan (2009-2014), the Laboratory outlined an ambitious plan to develop its primary infrastructure in the form of a new campus (to cope with the aging facilities at McKown Point in West Boothbay Harbor), to establish a major educational partnership with an undergraduate college, and to broaden funding opportunities to include the private and industry sectors. It is a significant tribute to the organization, and to the staff and Trustees, that the majority of the ambitious and far-reaching objectives of this strategic plan have come to fruition. The quantum improvement in research and education facilities provided a massive and timely boost for the Laboratory's strategy and implementation.

In December 2012, a new $32 million Ocean Research and Education campus was opened on a 64-acre site situated on the shore of the Damariscotta estuary. This purpose-built, LEED platinum laboratory houses the research, education, administration and support capabilities, as well as a number of important Core Facilities. These include the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA), the Single Cell Genomics Center (SCGC), Bigelow Analytical Services (BAS), the J. J. MacIsaac Facility for Aquatic Cytometry, the High Performance Compute Cluster, and the Seawater Suite. Housing for up to eight students or visiting scientists sits at the entrance to the campus, and a library and information center is funded and operated in partnership with the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The new campus has received numerous accolades for aesthetic design, energy efficiency, and research capability.

Colby College and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement on July 23, 2010 to create a working undergraduate curriculum program focusing on experiential learning in a research environment. This program consists of a fall semester-in-residence program for Colby students at the Laboratory, an intensive January semester of courses taught by scientists at Colby College, and summer internships at the Laboratory for Colby students.

Although our strategic partnership with Colby College is relatively new, the Laboratory has a long history of educating students and scientists, focusing both on the State of Maine as well as around the world. Over these 44 years more than 1,000 students, from Maine high schools (through our Keller BLOOM program), colleges throughout the U.S., and post-doctoral scientists from around the world, have received scientific training at Bigelow Laboratory.

The Laboratory's commitment to innovation is inspiring advances in biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and natural nutritional supplements from marine resources, and advanced analytical technologies are identifying and fingerprinting the impact of human activities on the marine environment.

External Reviews

Awards & Accreditations

U.S. Green Building Council

Affiliations & Memberships

Association of Fundraising Professionals - Member

American Association for Advancement of Science - Member


Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Fiscal year: Jul 01 - Jun 30

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Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?