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President’s Blog – April 12, 2018

Dear Friend:

Dinosaur Exhibit Opening

On Friday evening we welcomed VIP’s and Members to the opening of Jurassic Giants: A Dinosaur Adventure in the Ocean Conservation Center.

Over 2,500 members came to preview the exhibit. They were not only greeted by 12 animatronic dinosaurs, but also by a 32.5 pound sculpted chocolate dinosaur.  The sweet creation was crafted for Mystic Aquarium by Chef Franck Iglesias, Executive Pastry Chef at Foxwoods Resort Casino.  Here are some images from the evening:

Trustee Eric Hogarth with wife, Megan and their children
Who wouldn’t want a selfie with a dinosaur?
Chef Franck Iglesias, Executive Pastry Chef at Foxwoods Resort Casino and crew

Board Vice-Chair Susette Tibus and Dr. Steve Coan admiring Chef Franck’s dino-mite dessert!

Thank you to our staff and the many volunteers who worked so hard to design and construct this impressive exhibit.

We are also grateful to The Mosey Family for their sponsorship of this exhibit, and to NBC Connecticut and Frontier Communications for their sponsorship of our media campaign for the exhibit.

The exhibit has captured considerable media attention.  Here is a clip from a story that appeared on Providence television on NBC10 in Providence:


Dr. Peter Auster at the United Nations

Last week, Dr. Peter Auster, Senior Scientist, briefed new delegates to the United Nations on the topic of high seas biodiversity.  The session was hosted by the New Zealand mission to the United Nations.

Dr. Peter Auster

Dr. Auster has played a key role over the years in advocating for the expansion of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.  He has advocated for the Convention to place increased focus on biodiversity in ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction, also known as the high seas.  Thanks to his efforts, the United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote on this.


Research Advisory Council

Our Research Advisory Council met last week.  The Council includes prominent scientists from Yale University, University of Rhode Island, Charles River Laboratories, Tufts University and University of Connecticut, to name a few.

Mystic Aquarium has an abiding commitment to pure and applied research on marine mammals, fish and invertebrates, biodiversity and ocean ecosystems.  Over the past three years we have diversified our research programs into four primary areas of focus:

  • Marine mammal physiology
  • Aquaculture and Conservation of Ornamental Fish
  • Biodiversity and Fish Stocks in New England Oceans and Waterways
  • Conservation Policy

We have a research staff of six full-time scientists and an additional team of ten Scientists-in-Residence.  Our research laboratories are located at the University of Connecticut – Avery Point and all of our staff scientists have faculty appointments in the UCONN system.

Cutbacks in recent years within federal funding agencies that support pure and applied research, including the National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research and National Science Foundation have created challenges for research institutions of all sizes throughout the nation.  The recent Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, includes some increases for research funding within the National Science Foundation, a hopeful sign.

One of the key roles of the Research Advisory Council is to assist Mystic Aquarium in developing partnerships and funding for research programs.  As we focus on this, certain realities are clear about the future of scientific research generally, including:

  • The importance of connecting individual research projects with larger systemic challenges and research agendas – i.e. how ornamental fisheries are connected to overall fish stock depletion or how the stress factors of Beluga Whales relate to neuro immune systems of humans and or the well-being of ecosystems like the Arctic.
  • Public impact and understanding of research agendas. How does what we study relate to issues of public concern including human health and environment?
  • Who are the partners collaborating on research and what value do they bring in assuring measurable impact, or progress of scientific research?

We are very proud of our research program and our research team under the overall direction of Senior Vice President for Mission Programs, Katie Cubina and Chief Scientist, Dr. Tracy Romano.  We are particularly proud to welcome doctoral candidates and post-doctoral students to our team annually in collaboration with our major research partners.

Special thanks to the members of our Research Advisory Council who are helping to shape the future of research at Mystic Aquarium.


Springfield College and Mystic Aquarium Summer Camps

I want to call your attention to a new initiative, under the direction of Vice President of Education and Conservation, Kelly Matis, we are launching a series of summer camp programs at Springfield College, in Springfield, Massachusetts.  These are high quality, high impact marine science camps for students of all age groups.  Please take a look at the exciting array of programs at

 We appreciate your support of this important new partnership designed to serve more young people.

See you all soon!


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