Rankin Laboratory Users Guide

User’s Guide

The Rankin Laboratory has been designed to be a unique teaching and research seawater laboratory.  The 2,400 square foot wet laboratory can supply up to 250 GPM of seawater through a high-flow pressurized distribution system. The distribution system also features a flexible design which allows for closed, semi-closed or open system flow configurations, depending upon experimental requirements. The high flow design minimizes the accumulation of fouling organisms in the piping and is intended to provide reliable and consistent flow.


This guide provides a general description of the capabilities of the John S. Rankin, Jr. sea water research laboratory as well as information about accessing the facility. University research policies and procedures, as they relate to the laboratory, are also included in the appendices.

The Marine Sciences program at the University of Connecticut was founded by Dr. Rankin in 1957 with the acquisition of the Marine Research Laboratory in Noank, CT. Under his leadership, the program continued to grow in size and developed an excellent reputation in the marine sciences community. Dr. Rankin was a remarkable individual whose boundless energy and indomitable spirit has left a lasting influence on many marine scientists. This facility honors his 33 year contribution to the University and lifelong pursuit of excellence in research and education.

General Systems Design

The Rankin Laboratory has been designed to provide sea water in relatively large volumes to an enclosed laboratory building.  Raw water is distributed throughout the laboratory via two independent piping systems. The piping system has twelve distribution stations positioned throughout the laboratory. Pipe diameters are incrementally reduced toward the end of each run in order to maintain flow rates above one meter per second, thus minimizing biofouling. Each distribution station is equipped with ample supply valves and a low pressure aeration delivery manifold.

To allow for maximum flexibility in accommodating experimental arrays, the entire sea water delivery system is located overhead. Large overhead doors on the east and west walls of the building allow access to the laboratory interior and east-west terraces. Water exits the laboratory through an integral fiberglass trench drain system covered by removable fiberglass grates. The floor is covered with a highly resilient, non-skid, methyl methacrylate polymer concrete and the walls are epoxy coated. Both surfaces are durable and easily maintained.
Electrical power (110VAC, 20 amp) is supplied at fifteen distribution points throughout the laboratory via ceiling mounted retractable cord reels, each fitted with a fourplex receptacle. Additional electrical power (208VAC, 30 amp, single phase) is available in wall mounted weatherproof receptacles along the perimeter walls of the laboratory.

Terraces located adjacent to the east and west walls have been constructed with trench drains integrated into the primary laboratory drain system. A 900 square foot heated greenhouse is attached to the east end of the laboratory and provides electrical receptacles (110VAC, 20 amp), overhead raw seawater, and trench drains.

Raw Sea Water

Raw water is drawn directly from Long Island Sound from a depth of four meters at a location approximately forty meters seaward of the laboratory. Two 7.5 horsepower pumps, each with a redundant backup, provide up to 250 GPM to the distribution headers in the overhead of the wet laboratory. This water is not treated in any way and represents ambient water conditions. The temperature and pH of the discharge water are monitored for reporting purposes only by the laboratory manager.

Filtered Sea Water

Coarsely filtered seawater is provided by two high rate pool-type sand filters, each able to supply approximately 8 GPM through garden hose fittings.

Dry Laboratory


The dry laboratory is a 600 square foot workspace designed for instruction of small classes (<10), research and integration of monitoring and control equipment with wet lab arrays. The lab has ample perimeter counter and cabinet space, a center island bench, fume hood, and general use sink. A large window permits visual monitoring of approximately 75% of the wet lab floor space and hardwire instrumentation links are facilitated by a through-wall mouseport.

Scheduling and use of the dry laboratory should be coordinated through the lab manager.

Systems Control

Mechanical systems in the laboratory are under the control of the laboratory manager and are, from a users point of view, largely automatic. Investigators only need to control flow at the distribution stations and maintain their own equipment. Question or concerns about any laboratory systems should be immediately brought to the attention of the laboratory manager. Under no circumstances are investigators to modify or adjust any laboratory systems without the approval and/or supervision of the laboratory manager.

Backup Generator

The laboratory is equipped with a dedicated 100Kw natural gas fueled standby generator.  Operation is fully automatic in the event of power loss and full operational capability is maintained while on backup power.

Accessing the Rankin Laboratory

When preparing proposals routed through the MSTC you will receive a form requesting you to indicate which services you require for your research. Investigators who wish to use the laboratory will then receive a laboratory use request form which should be completed and submitted to the main office as soon as possible. The request will be reviewed by the scheduling committee and you will be contacted within seventy-two hours regarding the status of your request.  Any questions regarding laboratory specifications or capabilities can be directed to Charles Woods (860) 405-9181.

Investigator’s Responsibility

The initial set up of experiments is largely the responsibility of the investigator. Center staff will, however, make every effort to provide technical and logistical support to help get projects underway. Advanced planning and notification will certainly help to minimize use conflicts or other constraints.
Breakdown and removal of experimental arrays is solely the investigator’s responsibility as are daily monitoring and maintenance duties.

If vertebrate animals are intended to be used, the investigator must obtain approval from the university Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to beginning experiments. A copy of the IACUC approval letter must be on file with the Rankin laboratory manager before any animals will be allowed in the laboratory. IACUC application forms are available from the University Research Foundation.

When completing the laboratory use request it is important to identify any chemicals or other potentially hazardous materials that may be used in the laboratory. Please be cognizant of the fact that the environmental discharge permit does not allow release of any chemicals or domestic water in the discharge stream, regardless of concentration. The reclamation of any chemicals is the investigator’s responsibility.

Laboratory Fees

General use laboratory fees will not be applied to users of the Rankin Laboratory. Investigators will, however, be responsible for all material required to set up and maintain experiments and any direct costs incurred to support projects. Projects will be invoiced on a quarterly basis.

Student investigators will be provided access to the laboratory at no cost. Student requests for laboratory space should be coordinated through their major advisors.

Last Update: February 2013