Marine Lab | School of Arts and Sciences | Concordia University Irvine


What is the CUI Marine Lab?

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The Marine Lab was founded in 2014 to serve three main purposes by providing a valuable resource for Educational Outreach, Undergraduate Classes, and Student and Faculty Research. The Marine Lab facility consists of a ~2,000 gallon recirculating seawater system that includes a dozen various aquaria ranging from 50 to 400 gallons each and is home to over 50 species of temperate marine organisms (mostly local species) ranging from jelly-fish to sharks. The Marine Lab is directed by Dr. Sean Bignami, who holds a PhD in Marine Biology and Fisheries, is an Associate Professor of Biology, and the Biology Department Chair. The lab is primarily operated by student volunteers and supported by a combination of University and Departmental funding, external grants, and individual donations.

Student Spotlight

Noah Kolander '19

Spending his summers on dairy farms and horse ranches, Noah envisioned a career as a large animal veterinarian. However, on his first day at Concordia, his plans changed. He credits the Marine Lab for igniting his passion for marine biology and directing him towards an unexpected and exciting career path.

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The goal of the CUI Marine Lab Outreach Program is to improve the Ocean Literacy of students, teachers, and the general public in Orange County. Ocean Literacy is defined by the Ocean Literacy Campaign as an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you, and your influence on the ocean. The Marine Lab offers free educational mobile touch-tank and marine science lessons to schools, community events, and other institutions. We also offer weekly “Open Marine Lab Hours” (Fridays 11am-2pm) and on-site educational programs for groups visiting CUI. Mobile touch tank programs and lessons are differentiated for any audience age/grade, can be customized to fit into individual classroom curricula, and are aligned with the Principles of Ocean Literacy and Next Generation Science Standards. The Outreach Program has been generously supported by the California Coastal Commission, Orange County Community Foundation, CUI Alumni Association, and the Biology Department, helping us to serve over 1,800 individuals within the first 9 months* of Outreach Program activity! (*as of Dec. 2016)

How to book a mobile touch tank outreach program?

Schools, organizations, or individuals that wich to request an outreach event should submit the following Outreach Event Request Form to at least three weeks prior to the desired event date. If you pass this deadline, you may inquire via email to see if we can accommodate an event on short notice.

Request Form


The CUI Marine Lab helps support a variety of classes for Concordia students, including Introduction to Biology, Marine Biology, Physical Oceanography, Zoology, Ocean Science, and Research in Biology. Classes have the opportunity to learn using live marine organisms in the classroom, the Marine Lab, and the field. Students also have the opportunity to participate in outreach events or volunteer in the Marine Lab themselves.


The CUI Marine Lab supports marine science research conducted by students and faculty, including class-related and independent projects ranging from microbiology to aquaculture science.

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Visit the Lab

Open Hours: To be announced soon, contact us for more information
Location: Founders Hall Room 100


Current and previous support has been provided by the California Coastal Commission Whale Tail grant program, a generous sponsorship by, the Orange County Community Foundation, the CUI Alumni Association, and the donations of individuals.

Donations made to the Marine Lab help to support our ongoing animal collection and care, as well as the operation of our outreach program and research projects. Your support can be directed to the general budget or specific aspects of our programs.

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Support the Marine Lab

*Important* When filling out this form, you will be asked what you would like your donation to go towards. Please select 'Other' and type in Marine Lab. Thank you for your support!

How to get involved

The CUI Marine Lab operates primarily through the work of dedicated student volunteers from Concordia and other institutions. If you are interested in getting involved with the Marine Lab please contact us at

Contact Us

Director: Dr. Sean Bignami, Associate Professor of Biology