The Biological Sciences Department and the College of Science and Mathematics are home to three research institutes and a number of applied research projects. All of them are funded by private support from foundations, individuals and industry.
Thanks to these public-private partnerships, our institutes and centers are places where professors from across the university come together to solve real-world problems — and teach our undergraduate and graduate students to do the same thing. Our students benefit from faculty-led, hands-on experience in applied science. Our industry partners and sponsors benefit from our data gathering, innovative answers and creative solutions.
Scroll down to find out more about our centers, institutes and projects or use the links to skip straight to information about a specific institute.
Center for Coastal Marine Sciences (CCMS)
Cal Poly's Center for Coastal Marine Sciences promotes basic and applied studies of coastal marine systems. Through the Center, faculty conduct applied research addressing environmental concerns and fostering hands-on learning among Cal Poly students through discovery and outreach.
CCMS's primary facility is the Cal Poly Pier in Avila Beach. Since its donation to the university by Unocal, now Chevron Corporation, in 2001, the pier has been developed into a premiere research facility for faculty and graduate students. Now, roughly 1,500 students come to the pier each year as part of classes or research activities.
CCMS provides the only marine laboratory facility between Santa Barbara and Monterey — some of the nation's most beautiful and least-impacted coastline. The territory available for study from CCMS affiliates offers a wide diversity of marine habitats, from rocky intertidal zones to sandy coastline to estuarine communities and kelp forest communities. All are in close (1 km) proximity to each other and the CCMS Cal Poly Pier facility.
Center for Applications in Biotechnology (CAB)
The Center for Applications in Biotechnology (CAB) is the premier resource for advancing biotechnology on California's Central Coast.
Through research partnerships with major corporations, local laboratories dedicated to biotechnology, and cooperative learning experiences that involve students from around the world, CAB is building momentum toward being a regional powerhouse in biotechnology.
The Institute was founded in 1999 and since then has been funded by grants from federal, state and industrial partners including Chevron Corporation (formerly Unocal), Xoma, Applied Biosystems, BioWish Technologies and others.
Through CAB, our faculty perform applied research and train students while creating solutions to biological issues and problems using technology that’s at the growing interface between biology, medicine, science and engineering.
Currently, professors and students in Cal Poly's Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Computer Science departments are working through CAB to develop a searchable, online library of E. coli "pyroprints" — genetic sequences that are as reliable as fingerprints when it comes to identifying different strains of E. coli. The project is the Cal Poly Library of Pyroprints (CPLOP).
The San Luis Obispo Science and Ecosystem Alliance (SLOSEA)
SLOSEA is an integrated group of scientists, resource managers, fishermen and other stakeholders studying and supporting marine resources on the California Central Coast. All are working together using a collaborative, ecosystem-based approach.
SLOSEA was established in 2006 to link research at the Cal Poly Center for Coastal Marine Sciences (CCMS) to marine resource management and policy decisions affecting California's Central Coast. The SLOSEA study area includes the Morro Bay Estuary and the nearshore coast and watersheds from Cape San Martin to Point Conception. All SLOSEA stakeholders work together to gather scientific data key to understanding:
- Sustainable Regional Fisheries
- Water Quality
- Local Climate Change Adaptation
- How to Protect Coastal Habitats
- Invasive Species
- Sustainable Marine Economies/Working Waterfronts
The institute is educating the next generation of marine scientists. SLOSEA has supported over 15 graduate student fellows and near 35 undergraduate senior research projects, which bring students into the interdisciplinary realm of science and policy.
Monarch Alert Project
Monarch Alert is a citizen-based research project backed by graduate student researchers and faculty from Cal Poly that focuses on the demography and population fluctuations of western monarch butterflies through sampling of overwintering populations in San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties.
The program rests on a solid foundation of research set by Cal Poly Professor Emeritus Dennis Frey and the Ventana Wildlife Society. We appreciate all of their previous (and ongoing) efforts and acknowledge their essential contributions to this program.
The Monarch Alert Project is currently led by Professor Francis Villablanca.