The Marine Lab campus includes historic classrooms ideally suited for the study of marine organisms and a new state-of-the-art teaching facility: the Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservation Center. The Repass Center is Duke’s ‘greenest’ building, with geothermal wells for heating and cooling, solar panels for hot water, a green roof, and photovoltaic rooftop panels to convert sunlight into electricity.

Lab 1 is the original laboratory classroom of the Marine Laboratory, continuously in service since 1938. Lab 1 classrooms  (“East” and “West”) are equipped with running seawater tables and are used for Duke courses and serve as the principle assigned classroom space to visitors. With support from NSF, Lab 1 classrooms have been modernized with new seawater tables, microscopes, ergonomic chairs, energy efficient lighting, appliances, and more. Click here for additional information and photos of Lab 1.

The center of campus activity at noon is the Dining Hall, where faculty and students meet and mix during the lunch hour. Outdoor and indoor commons areas, with stunning views of the picturesque waterfront of Beaufort and the Rachel Carson Reserve, are favorite locales for coffee and doughnuts, receptions, and other formal and informal activities. A Student Center offers exercise equipment, billiards, and cable television. There are library and computer facilities within a one-minute stroll of any location on the Island; wireless computing is possible nearly everywhere. Street basketball, beach volleyball, croquet, canoeing, sunbathing and swimming are favorite diversions.

Map of the Duke Marine Lab campus

Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservation Center

An Award-Winning ‘Green’ Marine Lab Building that Benefits Students and Our Environment

Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Platinum Certification for New Construction Awarded to the Repass Center

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the United States’ leading organization on environmental building matters, forms a national consensus for sustainable building, design, and maintenance standards. The USGBC’s mission is to promote a new generation of high performance buildings that are “environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy” inside and out. To enable this mission the USGBC has developed a “Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) rating system.

Major Environmental Features of the Repass Center

The Repass Center has the following major environmental features:

  1. Site Design – The entire site is designed to take advantage of prevailing winds and sunlight. Native plants and a constructed sand dune system are in place, mimicking the natural landscapes on the adjacent barrier islands.
  2. Energy Supply – The OCC uses photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight for approximately 20% of the energy needs of the building, and passive solar for heating the water used in the building.
  3. Heating and Cooling – The OCC uses a geothermal circulation system, taking advantage of the constant temperature of the groundwater below the building, for heating and cooling, supplemented by a conventional heat pump system. All air systems re-circulate air for maximum efficiency.
  4. Innovative Materials – The exterior of the laboratory portion of the OCC and the interior ceilings are a material called Windscreen, a concrete-based material that is 90% heat and light reflective and is mounted with a “breathable” interface with the supporting wall structure. Walkways to the building are permeable concrete, allowing rain to go directly into the ground beneath the walkways.
  5. Local Materials – The wood used in the building is either recycled from other buildings, or produced within 500 miles of the building site in Beaufort.
  6. Non-toxic Paints and Solvents – All paints and solvents used in the OCC are “low volatile organic content (VOC)”.
  7. Natural Light and Ventilation – The OCC is design for maximum use of natural sunlight and ventilation.

Green Building Wood Design Award

Wood Design Awards celebrate excellence in wood design, engineering and construction, as well as innovative projects that showcase attributes of wood such as strength, beauty, versatility, cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

Marine Conservation Molecular Facility (MCMF)

The MCMF is a shared-use facility located in room 224 of the Bookhout Research Building. The facility occupies 435 sq ft, with bench space for 8 researchers/students. It supports state-of-the-art equipment including: Microfuges (4), pipettes (16 sets), thermal cyclers (10), real time thermal cyclers (2), a pipetting robot, a 96-capillary array ABI 3730 Sequencer, conventional and electric multichannel pipettes (8), an E-gel precast gel system, water baths (3), electrophoresis gel rigs (8), electrophoresis power supplies (7), a computer-controlled gel documentation system, a refrigerated benchtop centrifuge with fixed angle/swinging bucket/96-well plate rotors, an Eppendorf BioPhotometer Spectrophotometer with Helma UV cell (for DNA and RNA), bacterial incubators (shaking and stationary), Eppendorf Thermomixers (3), a Zeiss fluorescent compound microscope with attached digital camera, a Nikon Dissecting Scope with attached digital camera, a microwave, -20oC freezers (4), and 4oC fridges (3).

Please contact the MCMF Director, Dr. Tom Schultz at (252) 504-7641 or, for information on equipment, availability of bench space, and fees.

MCMF Charges

A. ABI DNA Analyzer Plate Charge: $100 per plate

B. Reagents/Consumables: Reagents Reagents/Cons.
1) PCR Cleanup/Big Dye Rxns/Seq Cleanup $120 $160
2) PCR to Sequencing $140 $190
3) Microsatellites (PCR, marker)   $135

Includes plate charge:

  • Consumables include tips and 96-well plates
  • All reactions must be performed using standard MCMF protocols
  • PCR Cleanup: enzymatic cleanup using Exonuclease I (NEB) and NTPhos (Epicentre)
  • Seq Cleanup: AMPure Magnetic Beads (Agencourt) following MCMF standard protocols
  • Microsatellites: must provide your own primers (labeled)

C. Sequencing Service: $6 per sequencing reaction

  • Standard universal primers (M13 Forward and Reverse, T3, T7, LCOI, HCOI) will be provided by the MCMF
  • Customer must provide DNA template (PCR product or purified plasmid) and primers (if non-universal primers are required)
  • Sequencing will be performed on a weekly basis, samples submitted by Tuesday should be completed by the following Friday

Funded Programs

National Science Foundation

  • Collaborative Research in IPY: Abrupt Environmental Change in the Larsen Ice Shelf System, a Multidisciplinary Approach – Marine Ecosystems Van Dover

North Carolina Biotechnology Center

  • Core facility for genetic and genomic approaches to marine conservation Schultz, Carlsson, Van Dover
  • Education Enhancement: Marine CSI – Conservation Forensics in the Marine Environment Carlsson, Saltonstall-Kennedy
  • Genetic Variability and Population Structure of Striped Bass along the US Eastern Seaboard Carlsson

Courses Offered

From Molecules to Management: Application of Molecular Tools to Marine Conservation (lecture), Carlsson and Schultz ENVIRON 256S.02 (undergraduate and graduate registration), 0.5 course or 2 units (2 semester hours)

Marine CSI - Conservation Forensics in the Marine Environment (lecture & lab course) Carlsson ENVIRON 151L NS, SS, STS, R(undergraduate and graduate registration); 1.0 course (4 semester hours)

Genetics and Molecular Biology (lecture) Schultz BIOLOGY 118 NS, STS (undergraduate registration) 1.0 course (3 semester hours)


Please contact the MCMF Director, Dr. Tom Schultz at (252) 504-7641 or, for information on equipment, availability of bench space, and fees.

Orrin Pilkey Laboratory

The Orrin Pilkey research laboratory is the first new research space to be added to the Marine Laboratory campus of Duke University since the construction of the Bookhout Research Laboratory in the 1960s. In addition to research and office space for three faculty members, the Pilkey Lab includes a two-story ‘collisional commons’ where the Pivers Island community can meet and exchange ideas in an informal setting, a conference room, a classroom designed for courses that use molecular techniques, plus office space for graduate students, research staff and visiting faculty.

About Orrin Pilkey

Orrin Pilkey is Professor Emeritus of Geology at Duke University. His research has focused on the shifting sands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other fragile barrier island systems. Professor Pilkey long used the Marine Laboratory as his base for field courses and research; his alliance is long and deep and revered. His name is given to this research laboratory in honor of his contributions to Duke University, his highest standards of research, and his superb mentorship of young scientists.

Sea-Level Rise, Hurricanes, and Coastal Construction

The Pilkey Laboratory is located on Pivers Island, an inner island of the North Carolina coast, protected from the ocean by inner and outer barrier islands. Hurricane-force winds occasionally batter the coast and, as sea level rises over the next century, storm surge could inundate the lowest portions of the island. As Duke University considered new construction, attention to hurricanes and sea-level rise were important design specifications.

The Pilkey Laboratory has been engineered to withstand both 132 mph hurricane-force winds and flooding with minimal damage.

Major Environmental Features of the Pilkey Laboratory

The Pilkey Laboratory has been designed to target the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) ‘Gold’ standards in the ‘Leadership in Energy and Environment Design’ (LEED) rating system.

Environmental features include:

  • Site Design – Located on the southern tip of Pivers Island, the entire site is designed to take advantage of prevailing winds and sunlight. Water efficient landscaping utilizing native plants and a constructed sand dune system are in place, inspired by the natural landscapes on the adjacent barrier islands. The majority of hardscapes consists of permeable and light-reflecting concrete and gravel paver systems which help minimize storm water runoff and reduce the heat island effect. Secondary entrances to the building have raised wood decks over gravel bases that promote water filtration at the building’s edge.
  • Heating and Cooling – Mechanical systems are designed to achieve over 35% energy cost savings. A closed-loop geothermal vertical ground source circulation system takes advantage of the constant temperature of the groundwater below the building for heating and cooling. This is supplemented by a conventional heat pump system. All air systems re-circulate air for maximum efficiency. The heating and cooling system is controlled by a building automated system which ties into and can be monitored by both the Marine Laboratory campus and the Main Campus in Durham.
  • Regional/Recycled Materials – Material selection has been guided by a goal of 30% regional materials produced within 500 miles of the building site in Beaufort, and 10% materials utilizing recycled content. These materials include the concrete and wood comprising the building’s foundations and structural framing, CMU base that is used for resistance to future SLR, locally sourced Cypress wood siding on the interior and exterior walls, laboratory casework, concrete pavers, and gravel paving.
  • Natural Light and Ventilation – The Pilkey Laboratory is designed for maximum use of natural sunlight and ventilation. All regularly occupied rooms have windows providing views to the campus or to surrounding barrier islands. The main research laboratory has a series of clerestory and countertop height windows providing both natural light and views.
  • Indoor Air Quality – Mechanical systems are designed to minimize pollutants in the air and create a healthy building environment. Construction measures have been implemented to protect mechanical equipment from construction dust. Low-emitting building materials, including low volatile organic content (VOC ) and zero-VOC paints, adhesives, solvents and sealants, also contribute to the air quality in the building. The main entry is covered with a walk-off mat made of recycled tires to minimize outdoor pollutants from entering the building.
  • Lighting – Lighting systems throughout the Pilkey Laboratory use a combination of vacancy and occupancy sensors that contribute to the energy cost savings of the building. Task lighting is provided to individual users in offices allowing specific control of lighting as required.
  • Water use – The building is designed to reduce water use by 50%, including water efficient landscaping and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
  • Construction waste – Separation of construction debris into recycling or reuse areas was strictly enforced to help divert at least 75% waste from landfills.

Architect and Construction Manager

The Pilkey Laboratory was designed and built by GLUCK+ (formerly Peter Gluck and Partners and Locus Construction), an award-winning New York City firm whose expertise is in Architect Led Design Build: single-source architectural design, construction, and commissioning of buildings.

Pearse Memorial Library

Pearse Memorial Library, a branch of the Perkins Library system, supports the teaching and research efforts of faculty, staff, and students of the Duke University Marine Laboratory.

Visit Library Website