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Patuxent Environmental & Aquatic Research Laboratory


Scott KnocheWelcome to the Morgan State University Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory (PEARL)!

Our laboratory has a splendid history, dating back over 50 years to 1967. It was then that Ruth Patrick, an internationally-recognized botanist and limnologist with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, sent a young researcher by the name of George Abbe to Benedict, Maryland, to open a modest field station and laboratory in an old oyster shucking house. At this time, multiple power plants were coming on-line in the area, and there was a need for research to understand the environmental impact of these power plants on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. During the 1970's and 80's, power plant impact work continued along with related studies examining long-term population trends of blue crab, oysters, and finfish. From the mid 1980's through the late 2000's, plankton monitoring funded by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the EPA Chesapeake Bay program was a key focus of laboratory scientists.

Fast-forward to today, Morgan State University PEARL embraces this rich history while performing cutting-edge research and designing and implementing innovative environmental education programs. Our researchers and staff have substantial expertise in shellfish aquaculture systems and oyster genomics; work is currently ongoing to identify genetic markers for diseases resistance, low salinity tolerance, and shell aesthetics. Our team includes fisheries biologists and biological oceanographers with expertise in ecosystem modelling and coastal ecosystem processes. As the Director, I continue to maintain an active research program in environmental economics, working with state and federal agencies and funding agencies to understand how environmental protection and restoration confers economic benefits to user groups and economic impacts to regional economies. Our environmental education staff coordinates an impressive internship program and hosts hundreds of school-age children every year on environmental education field trips that expose them to the ecological wonders of the Chesapeake Bay. All this, and our dedicated staff still finds time to continue important long-term ecological monitoring efforts, including phytoplankton analyses and a blue crab survey now in it's 50th year of operation at this laboratory.

So, again, welcome to PEARL! You can learn more about work on these webpages - please have a look around. I encourage you to check back with us frequently and view the "News" links on our website homepage for the latest developments and exciting new research occurring at PEARL.


Scott Knoche
Director, PEARL