Plymouth Marine Laboratory from above

Building on success


A £5.4 million initiative will develop Plymouth Marine Laboratory’s ground-breaking research. 

This is a project that will create a suite of showcase laboratories over the coming months, and further boost PML’s capacity as a leader in pioneering marine science.
The exciting new laboratories will enable PML to build on its excellence in interdisciplinary marine research, and include facilities to investigate the impacts of plastics on our environment and the marine life within it, from our coasts and beaches to the seafood we eat, and to develop cutting-edge technology, while also testing the technology of others, to help us better understand the marine environment.
“Our new laboratories will build on key, established PML strengths, allowing us to not only continue to innovate across a range of disciplines, but provide even greater opportunity for collaboration at regional, national and international levels,” said Professor Steve de Mora, Chief Executive at PML.
Also among the additions are:

  • State-of-the-art microscopy that enables the identification of some of the tiniest life – plankton - in the waters surrounding Plymouth, while using the unique and globally-important data provided by the Western Channel Observatory

  • Laboratories that investigate how light and noise pollution affect marine ecosystems, alongside constant-temperature rooms that replicate diverse marine environments, from polar to tropical

  • Facilities to help us better understand climate change and the complex relationships of gas exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere

  • The “Molecular Matrix” - a one-stop laboratory for the analysis of DNA and dedicated to the study and culture of marine organisms

  • A new teaching laboratory for training the marine scientists of tomorrow

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has provided £5 million towards the new facilities, with a further £400k invested by PML as it tackles questions at the forefront of global marine science.
“NERC works toward two goals that help humankind: understanding and predicting how our planet functions, and how that can help us to manage our environment responsibly as we pursue new ways of living, doing business, escaping poverty and growing economies,” said Professor Duncan Wingham, Chief Executive of NERC. “The key to achieving this is through excellent, peer-reviewed discovery science and strategic research.  Funding such research and investing in world-class skills and infrastructure that keeps the UK at the forefront in areas such as long-term, large-scale monitoring and observation as well as rapid response to emerging issues underpins the NERC ethos. Plymouth Marine Laboratory has a long and excellent track record of delivering high quality, relevant research that addresses some of the challenges faced by the marine environment and ultimately ourselves. So I am delighted that we have been able to support this latest refurbishment at PML, which we are confident will lead to even more significant research across a range of topics as we move forward in a world that is changing and faces new challenges to remaining sustainable.”
Work will be started next month, employing local company Devon Contractors Ltd, and is expected to last around 18 months.
Pete Alderson, Construction Director of Devon Contractors Ltd, the main contractor appointed to the project said, “We are really excited to be working on this reconfiguration project with Plymouth Marine Laboratory. As a regional contractor, we are thrilled to have been appointed and will be ensuring that local subcontractors and businesses are involved throughout the project.  Devon Contractors will be working hard to ensure the project is finished to the highest standard and targeting an early delivery so that PML can continue their work of enhancing the marine science conducted in Plymouth.”

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