University of Miami gets grants to study hurricanes — and slugs

The University of Miami's efforts to study the impact of hurricanes on buildings received a boost on Monday by way of a $15 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department.

The stimulus money grant — the largest for the school in recent history — will go toward the construction of a new, $48 million research facility at the UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Virginia Key, a place where scientists and researchers will now dissect hurricane-generated winds, waves and storm surges.

The construction project already had $28 million in matching funds.

"We are thrilled with the prospect of this new research building, which will help us further investigate how hurricanes and other extreme weather phenomena affect our natural and man-made environment," said Dr. Roni Avissar, the dean of the Rosenstiel School.

For UM, the grant represents the second awarding of stimulus money to its marine school in days.

Last week, a grant for $82,128 was awarded for a summer research experiment focused on the study of sea hares, a large marine snail with a simple nervous system. Students and teachers will focus on improving egg quality in the slugs. The sea hares are used to conduct research on selected aspects of life history and neurophysiology of this species.