The heart and soul of Jacksonville and Duval County is the St. Johns River with its confluence of three unique marine and aquatic environments. The freshwater of the river, the brackish marshes of the Intracoastal Waterway and the marine environment of the Atlantic Ocean combine as the base for the uniqueness of our area. Our history and future as a community are based on a healthy river, dynamic waterway and prodigious oceanfront.

As part of an effort to preserve and protect Jacksonville’s most significant natural asset, Jacksonville University has established a new Marine Science Research Institute (MSRI) on the banks of the St. Johns River. The goal is to provide a premier biological and environmental research and education facility. Since our local waters share concerns and issues with similar ecosystems nationwide, the research work accomplished at the JU MSRI will have national benefits.

The concept for establishing the MSRI on the JU campus dates to 1998. It began as collaboration between Jacksonville University, Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville Marine Charities, the National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Representatives from each organization recognized the need to provide a facility in northeast Florida that could provide students the opportunity to study natural sciences in a field-experiential setting.  The completed MSRI will house the St. Johns Riverkeeper office, along with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Northeast Florida Fisheries Laboratory, the JU Sailing Program and our exciting new high school marine education program in conjunction with Duval County Public Schools. 

Dr. Quinton White is the executive director of the MSRI. Glenn Dasher was the architect for the building and Perry-McCall served as the contractor. JU’s first "green building,” the MSRI opened its doors in September of 2010 and earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ® Gold certification status by the U.S. Green Building Council. Established by the Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute, LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.


 Be a Dolphin and explore ! (Click below to view video)


Discover Marine Science at Jacksonville University! Explore the natural laboratory provided by the St. Johns River and conduct extensive fieldwork as a JU marine biology student in the new 30,000 square-foot Marine Science Research Institute (MSRI).

You’ll be wading through diverse marine environments with your professors and classmates. The fresh water of the river, the brackish salt marshes of the Intracoastal Waterway system and the saltiness of the Atlantic Ocean combine as the perfect learning environment.

Jacksonville’s history and future as a community are largely based on a healthy river, dynamic waterway and beautiful oceanfront. To continue to protect and preserve these significant natural assets, JU has established the MSRI. Our faculty have active, grant-funded research projects that provide ample opportunities for you to get involved to combine field work with your laboratory experience to enhance classroom learning.

The new MSRI is a “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) GOLD-certified facility. Providing a direct link between education and environment, at the MSRI we identify problems and solutions of the various local aquatic environments.

At every turn, the MSRI was planned as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly structure. Some of the “green” elements of the facility include:

East-west oriented building to reduce solar heat load
Solar Hot Water 
Harvesting Rainwater to use on toilets, boat wash down and irrigation
Waterless urinals
Natural light through most of the occupied space in the building
Low volatile organic compound  (VOC) paints used
Limited paved parking near building to avoid runoff into river
Native drought tolerant plants used for landscaping
High-efficiency HVAC system
Low-energy lighting
Showers available to encourage biking to work or class
Recycled more than 80% of construction waste

Preserving North Florida’s Waterways through research and education, the MSRI at JU coordinates academics, research, public awareness and education. To learn more about earning your degree in marine science, call 904-256-7000 or see the Program Requirements page.  


MSRI Construction Views 2009 - Aerial Views 

MSRI Construction Project 2009 Photo Slideshow​

WC & Susan Gentry Boardwalk & Nature Preserve


Susan & WC Gentry Boardwalk and Nature Preserve connects to mulch parking lot behind the apartments to the front entrance of the Marine Science Research Institute, made from recycled plastics. Enjoy the breeze of the boardwalk and comfort of the gazebo as you make your way to the MSRI or sit with amazement in nature that surrounds you.