lab_headerJames T. Carlton Marine Science Center

The James T. Carlton Marine Science Center (CMSC) is a fully-equipped, 8,000 square foot laboratory with easy access to estuaries, marshes, rocky intertidal zones, and sandy beaches. Williams-Mystic students and faculty have 24/7 access to the CMSC, which they also use throughout the year as a base for field and laboratory research.

Main Floor

Central to the CMSC is a large open laboratory of three central work benches, as well as side counters for additional sample work up and analyses, an E-Pure Barnstead DI system, and two 1000-gallon recirculating aquaria maintained at two different temperature regimes, circulating through biological and mechanical filters at 2000 gallons per hour. Numerous additional smaller aquaria and holding tanks are available, all of which are entirely closed systems designed to prevent the escape of non-local living species brought to the CMSC for studies. The CMSC has a large complement of dissecting and compound microscopes, including digital trinocular stereomicroscopes, polarizing microscopes, trinocular compound microscopes, digital field microscopes, and computer-linked digital video systems for high-resolution microphotography.Carlton Marine Science Center Lab


The analytical laboratory includes a fume hood, laboratory reagents, autoclave sterilizer, digital balances, Branson 5510 ultrasonic cleaner, Genesis 20 thermospectronic spectrophotometer, VWR clinical centrifuge, Thermo Scientific Centrifuge, Applied Biosystems, Thermal Cycler, Invitrogen Gel Viewer, Cell Counter, ashing oven, and a variety of other benchtop water quality and genetics analytical instruments.

Our environmental chamber facility includes two VWR Lo-Temp Diurnal Illuminator Incubators, a Fischer IsoTemp Laboratory Refrigerator, two Thermo-convection ovens, and additional refrigerator and freezer capacity.

An equipment room houses field equipment, including an assortment of plankton nets, two Van Dorn water samplers, a bottom grab sampler, sediment coring equipment, a YSI Flow Tracker, surveying equipment, and hand-held GPS units, YSI probes, field fluorometers, and HOBO data loggers. A preparation room, with an industrial sink and counters, is used for initial processing and organization of samples.

Our modern teaching classroom is equipped with a projector, video conferencing system, and sound system.Carlton Marine Science Center classroom

Our library includes a comprehensive collection of oceanographic, geologic, and marine invertebrate systematic, biogeographic, and ecological literature, including over 100,000 reprints and 5,000 books.

The CMSC computing facilities consist of both PC- and MAC-based platforms, including six desktops and six laptop computers, two projectors, two printers, a photocopier-scanner, a flat-bed scanner, and a poster printer. Two large 48” monitors, one in the foyer and one in the classroom, display real-time water quality and meteorological data from the Mystic River Estuary.

Ground Floor

The Marine Geosciences Laboratory includes a rock and sediment preparation room with rock drills, trimming saws, and a grinder for the preparation of geological samples, as well as an automatic sieve shaker for sediment separation and storage racks for cores. The analytical geosciences room includes a Leica 2500DMP petrographic microscope for both transmitted and reflected polarized light with camera attachment, a UTS CATS Ultrasonic Velocity Meter, a Quantachrome Pentapycnometer, TinyPerm II permeameter, and Denver Instruments analytical balances.  We also have a variety of field equipment used for geological field work, including a Pomeroy portable rock drill, Brunton compasses, hammers and chisels, and hand lenses.lab_rocks

A three-bay garage includes space for research equipment, as well as saws, a drill press, and other tools for constructing field apparatus. It also provides winter storage for our research vessels, including a 17 -foot skiff and a variety of smaller personal watercraft (kayaks, canoes, paddleboards) used for accessing nearshore research sites.

Carlton Marine Science Center Outside

Field Sites

From the CMSC, students can walk to many field sites along the Mystic River Estuary. A variety of coastal habitats also lie within driving or boating distance; these include salt marshes, tide pools, sandy beaches, and mudflats.

The CMSC is part of Mystic Seaport, America’s largest maritime museum. The property includes the Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard, where the Seaport seeks to preserve historic vessels large and small. The Seaport is considered part of Williams-Mystic students’ campus, and students participate in a variety of maritime skills classes, ranging from shipsmithing to sailing. Williams-Mystic students and faculty also work at field sites located on Mystic Seaport property that are closed to public access.