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Patuxent Environmental & Aquatic Research Laboratory

About the PEARL

PEARL has a splendid history, dating back over 50 years to 1967. It was then that Ruth Patrick, an internationally-recognized scientist 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 Chesapeak Bay ecosystem.

During the 1970's and 1980's, power plant impact work continued along with 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 also was a key focus of laboratory scientists.

The laboratory became part of the Morgan State University in 2004, and in 2013 was rebranded as the Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory - PEARL for short. This name clearly embraced the laboratory's location on the tidal Patuxent River, the focus of the laboratory's research, and was synergistic with the laboratory's increased emphasis on oysters and oyster aquaculture research.

Today, the PEARL is an excellent blend of the old and new. While continuing to lead decades-long monitoring efforts - including a long-term blue crab survey that began in 1974 and an oyster survey that began in 1978 - PEARL leads cutting-edge research and utilizes state-of-the art models and instrumentation to examine topics such as microplastics pollution, carbon cycling, shellfish aquaculture, and ecological restoration.

Education-wise, PEARL continues its decades-long commitment to undergraduate research experiences through its Summer internship Program, while now supporting a large cohort of graduate students with paid assistantships through funded research projects. PEARL has played a leading role in developing new curriculum for a new Morgan State B.S. in Coastal Science & Policy. This interdisciplinary new degree program involves both the natural and social sciences, providing students with well-rounded training that will prepare them for the workforce or graduate school.

From the natural sciences to the social sciences, through research, education, and public service - there is something for everyone at the PEARL. Have a look around, and thank you for visiting the PEARL website!