Illustration for discussion purposes only – not actual rendering.

FL - USF to launch new Center of Excellence in Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences on the St. Petersburg campus

USF is seeking public education capital outlay (PECO) funds during the upcoming Florida legislative session to start immediate construction on the building. The total cost of the project is estimated at $80.3 million.

The University of South Florida is seeking support from the Florida Legislature and the local community to advance a bold new plan for an interdisciplinary center of excellence that will harness the collective power of colleges and departments from throughout the university to address the existential challenges created by climate change, including sea level rise, high tide flooding events and other coastal hazards.

The center will be located on USF’s St. Petersburg campus and will build on the world-class reputation of the College of Marine Science. It will bring a variety of new undergraduate and graduate programs to the St. Petersburg campus and is envisioned as a national destination for students and researchers studying issues related to the environment, oceanography and sustainability.

“What this innovative, groundbreaking center of excellence will achieve can be summed up in a single word – impact,” USF President Rhea Law said. “It will make an enormous difference for our students, our faculty and our community, and is poised to make waves both nationally and internationally.”

At the heart of the plan is a proposed new building, called the Environmental & Oceanographic Sciences Research & Teaching Facility. The $80-million project would provide state-of-the-art research and instructional space for both graduate and undergraduate students from the colleges of Marine Science, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering.

The facility will also house the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation, which was proposed by Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls and approved by the legislature in 2020. The Flood Hub will establish a home base of expertise in coastal resiliency that will serve the entire state of Florida, with scalable impact for other coastal communities nationwide.

The building would serve as a hub for researchers studying the effects of sea level rise, high-tide flooding events and other environmental issues in ways that are accessible to policymakers, planners, elected officials and the general public. In addition, a new data visualization center is envisioned to provide information that improves forecasting models, helps identify flooding hazards, and assesses their economic impact.

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