Norfolk Southern Corporation, through its Foundation, has committed $150,000 to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, to help purchase a state-of-the-art laboratory instrument that will provide exciting new opportunities for addressing important questions in marine ecology and conservation.
The high-tech instrument, known as an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer, will allow faculty and students at VIMS to unravel marine food webs based on the principle that "you are what you eat." Knowledge of food-web structure is important for effective management of fisheries, tracking of migratory patterns, and predicting how pollutants move through ecosystems.
"With Norfolk Southern's headquarters located only a few miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake, we are acutely aware of the great need to improve water quality throughout the Bay watershed," says Kathryn B. McQuade, Norfolk Southern's Executive VP - Planning and Chief Information Officer and a member of the VIMS Council. "With this seed money for new analytical equipment, we can help VIMS upgrade its research capabilities and provide greater assistance to environmental groups throughout the region."
Dr. Rebecca Dickhut, Chair of the Physical Sciences Department at VIMS, notes that the Institute currently owns and operates several types of mass spectrometers, but none of the new-generation instruments that allow scientists to unravel food webs based on analysis of isotopic ratios.
"The Norfolk Southern gift will help resolve this eficiency and bring us to the forefront of the analytical field," says Dickhut.
VIMS Dean and Director John Wells adds "We're deeply grateful to Norfolk Southern for their continuing support of VIMS and its programs. This generous gift allows us to further enhance our efforts to provide the best science for effective management of Virginia's marine resources."
The Institute's lack of the latest in mass spectroscopy equipment previously forced researchers to ship samples as far away as California for analysis, and precluded hands-on training on the latest equipment for VIMS graduate tudents.
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is a Norfolk, Va.-based company that controls a major freight railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway Company. The company has a 20-year history of support for VIMS, including a $150,000 gift in 2003 to support the Institute's Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Program.