Center for Marine Science

CMS @ a Glance

fast facts

Marine & Coastal Research Highlights of our Affiliated Departments:

Biology & Marine Biology (BMB)
Chemistry & Biochemistry (CAB)
Earth & Ocean Sciences (EOS)
Environmental Sciences (EVS)
Policy, Health, Economics & Data Science groups (PHEDS)
Physics & Physical Oceanography (PPO)

Areas of Expertise:

  • Aquaculture
  • Biodiversity
  • Coastal Ecology
  • Coastal Monitoring
  • Coastal Policy
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Estuarine & River Ecology
  • Fisheries Biology
  • Harmful Algal Studies
  • Marine Biotechnology
  • Marine Mammals
  • Natural Products
  • Oceanography
  • Ocean Observing Systems 
  • Ocean Technology

Current Facilities:

  • Offices and laboratories for 40 scientists, 65 students, and 60+ staff
  • Facilities for research, education and public outreach (K-12 through lifelong learning), visiting scientists and shared graduate education opportunities
  • 147-seat auditorium with state-of­-the-art multimedia equipment
  • Lab space available for scientists from other North Carolina universities
  • Running seawater at the Myrtle Grove and Wrightsville Beach campuses
Core facilities
Aerial Drone
DNA Analysis
Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry 
Nutrient Analysis
Oceanographic Instruments
Sediment Analysis

Research fleet
R/V Cape Fear (61’)
R/V Seahawk (34’)
Small boats (17’-25’)


  • Marine science at UNCW spans nearly 50 years, and encompasses the College of Arts and Sciences, Watson College of Education, Cameron School of Business and College of Heath and Human Services.
  • CMS began at Wrightsville Beach as the Institute of Marine Biomedical Research in 1972 and became Center for Marine Science Research (CMSR) in 1980s.
  • CMSR became the Center for Marine Science in 2000 with the addition of the Master of Science in Marine Science program. The same year, CMS relocated to a new 75,000 ft2 facility at the Myrtle Grove campus.
  • Directly accessible from the lntracoastal Waterway, the Myrtle Grove campus includes docking facilities and share core laboratories containing state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, a 16,000 ft2 operations wing, 11,000 ft2 Shellfish Research Hatchery and 69,000 ft2 Marine Biotechnology building were added to the Myrtle Grove campus, complementing the existing facility and Aquaculture Center at Wrightsville Beach.


  • Recognized as a world class site for applied marine science, especially in the areas of biotechnology and drug discovery, mariculture and living resources, and coastal monitoring and technology
  • Focus on collaborative interdisciplinary programs at state, national and international levels
  • Student research in five focus areas: biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and environmental science
  • Unique pilot project program to ensure continued cutting-edge science - high risk, high payoff
  • As of August 1, 2020, active extramural grants affiliated with CMS total $25 million

Our Mission Statement

The Center for Marine Science at UNC Wilmington is dedicated to providing an environment that fosters a multidisciplinary approach to questions in basic and applied coastal and marine research. The mission of the center is to support and promote coastal and marine science at UNCW, including research, outreach and service, and teaching. This includes a variety of fields such as oceanography, coastal and wetland studies, estuarine science, marine physiology and genetics, fisheries, aquaculture, marine biotechnology, marine policy and education, and other aspects of marine biology, marine and atmospheric chemistry, marine geology, environmental studies/sciences, and physical oceanography. The center fosters research programs of the highest quality and thereby enhances the educational experience provided by The University of North Carolina Wilmington for both undergraduate and graduate students in marine science.