The Gerace Research Institute (GRI), formerly the Gerace Research Centre (GRC) and the Bahamian Field Station, occupies a former US Naval Base on the island of San Salvador and has been in operation for over 40 years as an educational and research institution. The Institute provides accommodations, laboratory space and logistical support for teachers and researchers interested in the diverse and unique tropical environments on San Salvador.
GRI has enjoyed a long and rich history as a field-based classroom for a variety of sciences:
- Geology courses make use of Pleistocene and modern carbonate environments to teach sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology and field mapping.
- Biology and Ecology classes make use of the many varied habitats including hypersaline lakes, shrub-covered terrestrial settings, rocky keys, sea grass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs.
- Increasingly, molecular biology and genetics have become common with groups examining oyster and fire coral populations.
- Archaeology classes focus on prehistoric and historic sites for which full Bahamian Government approval has been received.
- While the sciences have traditionally been the focus of visits, art and literature classes have been taught with the tropical scenery and rich Bahamian culture providing the focus.
Purpose of GRI
GRI has a continuing agreement with the Bahamas government to undertake a wide range of environmental research projects in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Its four primary objectives are to:
- inquire into the meaning of environmental relationships;
- develop an understanding of other cultures;
- instruct students in research methods and techniques; and
- conduct initial surveys and advanced field studies of the island of San Salvador.
GRI is able to support field research and teaching and provides separate housing for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and researchers. It has ten laboratory and classroom spaces, two large lecture rooms, a comparative specimen repository (one for archaeological material and one for biological specimen), a wet lab with running sea water aquaria and an analytical lab with equipment for chemical and biological analyses.
GRI provides basic laboratory equipment such as microscopes, glassware, sieves, collecting nets and buckets. SCUBA tanks are available for rent at a modest cost. Vehicles for transporting researchers and students allow access to all parts of the island. Rowboats, canoes, and a zodiac (inflatable power boat) are available to assist with work in the inland lakes and transportation by power boat to the more distant reefs and keys can be arranged.
Research materials are housed in the library, along with computers for Internet access. Internet service for student use is also available in the Computer Lab, while wireless access is available in most faculty rooms. Several LCD projectors are also available for classroom use.
GRI has complete dining facilities for 90 people. The cafeteria serves three meals daily and a snack bar is available for after-hours use.