History

Harbor Branch was founded in 1971 to understand and conserve the oceans through exploration, research, and education for the benefit of mankind. Its global reputation for excellence in marine science and technology can be traced directly to the efforts of founder J. Seward Johnson, Sr., whose deep concern for environmental preservation spurred his involvement in ocean research, and famed inventor Edwin A. Link, whose passion for sea exploration produced innovations that opened the depths to some of the world’s most talented scientists. This intellectual curiosity extended to near-shore ecosystems and prompted the 1973 start of the Indian River Lagoon Coastal Zone Study, a complete environmental evaluation of the lagoon and nearby ocean habitats.
 
In 1974, Harbor Branch established its summer internship program, which to date has provided hands-on marine science and technology experiences to 520 young minds. To build on this foundation with complementary offerings such as public lectures, field trip programs, and university courses, the Education Division was created in 1990. Two enduring products are Harbor Branch’s first significant educational collaboration with Florida Atlantic University, Semester by the Sea, which immerses FAU undergraduates in a semester of marine science education at Harbor Branch with an emphasis on marine biology, and the public Ocean Science Lecture Series.
 
The seeds for Semester by the Sea were sown in 1991, when the two institutions executed a memorandum of understanding to undertake joint educational initiatives, and in 1999, when they began discussing ways to involve Harbor Branch in the educational programs of FAU, especially in the Department of Biological Sciences. This also led to collaborative development of Ph.D. programs in Chemistry and Integrated Biology, with Harbor Branch faculty teaching courses in these programs, and the appointment of Harbor Branch researchers to FAU Affiliated Faculty positions.
 
In 2006, Harbor Branch and Florida Atlantic University (FAU), a member of the state university system, began discussing how to best capitalize on a growing research and education relationship embodied by a 40,000 square-foot joint-use marine science building nearing completion on the north side of the campus. At the end of 2007, Link’s canal and the institution that grew up around it became the northernmost of FAU’s seven locations. The merger would close a circle of sorts; in 1965, the Link Foundation helped establish the nation’s first undergraduate ocean engineering program at FAU by funding scholarships. 
 
The effect on the Harbor Branch campus has been transformational. Building funds provided by the state legislature have enabled renovation of an aging infrastructure that was battered by twin hurricanes in 2004, and construction of a new laboratory and office building that provides room for expansion. In terms of professional cross-germination, scientists from different campuses have been collaborating on a variety of research projects, Harbor Branch engineers are working with other University colleagues on a federally-funded initiative to generate electricity using Florida’s Gulf Stream current, and various faculty are co-mentoring postdoctoral investigators at Harbor Branch. Leadership also is investigating ways to expand Harbor Branch’s role in the educational mission of the University.
 
The institutions moved to facilitate research partnerships and graduate study opportunities through the construction of a shared Marine Science Building at Harbor Branch. The facility opened in 2007.  Education at Harbor Branch also advanced in 2007 with the opening of the Westwood High School Marine and Oceanographic Academy (MOA), a partnership between Harbor Branch and the St. Lucie County School District to improve ocean literacy among high school students and their teachers. Westwood students who are accepted to the magnet school are team-taught by MOA instructors and Harbor Branch faculty on the Harbor Branch campus, yielding a singular educational experience aimed at producing some of tomorrow’s marine scientists.
 
 

Spotlights

SUPPORT AQUACULTURE
SUPPORT AQUACULTURE
PROTECT WILD DOLPHINS
PROTECT WILD DOLPHINS
PROTECT FLORIDA WHALES
 
 
 
 
J. Seward Johnson, Sr. & Edwin A. Link J. Seward Johnson, Sr. & Edwin A. Link
Edwin A. & Marion Clayton Link Edwin A. & Marion Clayton Link