SAVANNAH — The Ossabaw Island Foundation recently transformed a 400-square-foot building on Ossabaw Island into a multipurpose teaching laboratory and workspace.
The Ossabaw Island Field Lab is available to visiting groups in need of a preparation site for scientific research on the barrier island, 7 miles south of Savannah.
The lab grew out of a recommendation at the 2012 Armstrong Community Summit regarding ways to accommodate visits to the island by the university’s biology students.
Paul Pressly, director of the Ossabaw Island Educational Alliance, spearheaded the fundraising and renovation process.
Dr. Robert Gregerson, Armstrong’s dean of the College of Science and Technology, provided guidance for the configuration and design of the facility.
Armstrong intends to offer a coastal ecology class this summer, utilizing the field lab and the island.
The university will be among the first users of this facility, which will be available for use by any science groups visiting Ossabaw Island.
“The new teaching laboratory gives Ossabaw Island fresh momentum in becoming a center for science education on the Georgia coast,” Pressly said.
“This facility will offer opportunities to learn from the island’s rich heritage.”
The new lab is part of a package of activities available to anyone visiting the island for scientific, ecological or artistic exploration.
Originally constructed in the 1960s as a meat processing facility for the Torrey family cattle business, the laboratory has been fitted with lab tables and sinks for up to 15 people, allowing students, teachers and scientists to process biological, geological and archeological samples collected on the 26,000-acre island. The lab also houses a new film-processing darkroom, available to photography workshops.
“In the past, samples had to be transported back to the mainland for processing,” Gregerson said. “Now, for the first time ever, scientific research on Ossabaw Island can be conducted and analyzed on-site. This opens up exciting new avenues of inquiry for visiting scientists and students.”
Biologists will be able to analyze their findings and extract DNA from plants. Archaeologists will be able to clean and classify artifacts. In addition, artists and photographers will use the facility as an on-site studio space and darkroom.
“This is truly a multipurpose building,” said Elizabeth DuBose, executive director of The Ossabaw Island Foundation. “It will help unite the arts and sciences on Ossabaw Island.”
Funding for the $100,000 building renovation was provided by The Waters Foundation, The Chatham Foundation and the Frances and Beverly DuBose Foundation.
The Ossabaw Island Education Alliance, a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, the Board of Regents and The Ossabaw Island Foundation, develops programs with schools and colleges and plans educational programming on the island.