By Astrid Hsu
Driving from Boston to Nahant is witnessing the fascinating transition from city to suburban beach town. Tall skyscrapers, neon signs and red brick apartments gave way to windy one-lane roads, quaint houses, and glowing beaches. As I drove along the narrow strip of road connecting Nahant to the rest of Massachusetts, Nahant Bay on one side and Broad Sound on the other, my breath caught seeing the Boston skyline reflected in the waters. Though the town itself is generally quiet, Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center is a sparkling gem, loud in both looks and knowledge. Thanks to Valerie Perini, Senior Outreach Instructor of the institute, I got to explore both aspects on a first rate tour of the facility.
Only a thirty minute drive from the city, the Marine Science Center was a perfect, untainted snapshot of the New England coast. Rocky shores, cold waters (at least relative to San Diego’s), and even a genuine blue lobster! East Point is full of little secrets: did you know that the rocks on Nahant have the same exact magnetic signature as that of rocks in northwest Africa? Not only does this confirm Alfred Wegner’s theory of continental drift, but it is also the only location in the America with rocks of this signature. Even Hollywood touched down here, as part of Shutter Island (film) was shot at the Marine Science Center!
But just as impressive as the Marine Science Center’s physical and biological environment is its faculty. Northeastern boasts a strong and growing faculty, headed by director Geoffrey C. Trussell, and innovative projects spawn and develop on this island because of their work. For example, a current project deals with biomimetics, in which biological organisms are mimicked and engineered to act as solutions for natural and anthropogenic issues. These remote sensing robots are able to monitor their surrounding environment and provide insight into biological, geological, and physical processes that take place underwater.
Keep an eye out for this institute, as they’ll be sure to make quite the splash in the upcoming years. If you’re in the area, the institute is also in the process of establishing public tours, so stay tuned for those!
Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.