Coast & Ocean

California’s Coastal Research Triad

Climate Change



The 840 miles of coastline in California is among the most protected in the country. Policies established decades ago preserve this crucial region as a beacon for tourists, conservationists and researchers.

Three Research Arms, One Research Mission

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) – now in its fiftieth year – is a multi-campus consortium of marine science researchers, faculty and staff from CSU campuses in East Bay, Fresno, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, San José and Stanislaus. MLML currently has nine faculty members in residence and offers a curriculum for approximately 100 CSU students – both graduate and undergraduate. MLML’s research capacity includes a 60,000 square foot laboratory, several research vessels and a dive program.

The Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) is a collaboration of nine CSU campuses in Southern California offering members access to joint resources, support vessels and a diving safety program for marine research. Founded in 1972, OSI is now part of the Southern California Marine Institute, a joint research and resources partnership between the CSU, UCLA, University of Southern California and Occidental College.

The CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) was established in 2008 to integrate systemwide resources and promote interdisciplinary, multi-campus collaborations to advance our knowledge of coastal and marine resources and the processes affecting them.  COAST serves faculty and students engaged in marine, coastal and coastal watershed-related research at each of the CSU’s 23 campuses and supports research to inform decision-making and develop innovative solutions to myriad challenges along our coast.

New Discoveries Protect California’s Coast

For MLML, OSI, and COAST, collaboration is the key to research success. MLML, OSI, and COAST offer rigorous directed research opportunities for CSU students, as well as prestigious internship opportunities with state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations and industries.

  • MLML students are studying the effects of climate change on deep seafloor communities in the Antarctic using imagery collected by a remotely-operated vehicle – an ROV – that was designed built and operated at a MLML laboratory.
  • The chemical oceanography lab at MLML recently completed its third year of a collaborative research program sponsored by the National Science Foundation to study the cycling of methylmercury – a bioaccumulative environmental toxicant – in marine advection fog.
  • OSI faculty are using state-of-the-art marine animal tracking technology and techniques to monitor the return of the endangered giant sea bass, white sharks, and important gamefish following decades of overfishing.
  • CSU students also have the opportunity to conduct directed research on Catalina Island through courses offered by OSI at the world-renowned Wrigley Marine Lab.
  • COAST faculty researchers from San Diego State are studying the rate of photo-oxidation and degradation of oil following the Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara County in May 2015. This work will determine changes in oil chemistry and associated toxicity during the degradation process.
  • COAST faculty from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU Fresno and San Francisco State are collaborating to model the effect of multiple environmental stressors on marine organisms’ fitness and function.