Kewalo Marine Laboratory, a unit of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, was conceived in the mid-1960's by UH Vice President Robert Hyatt and PBRC's second director, Terence Rogers. The goal was to develop a state-of-the art facility for carrying out experimental marine biology and to develop shallow-water marine animals into model systems for studying basic questions in biological science. Toward this end, a $550,000 grant was secured from the National Science Foundation for building funds, a site at Kewalo Basin was leased from the State, and the building was designed by Honolulu architect Richard N. Dennis. Originally planned to be completed by March 1969, delays in funding, increases in construction costs, and a shipping strike on the west coast pushed back the opening of the lab to April 1972. By the time of completion, the total cost of construction and equipment had risen to $1.4 million, with additional funding provided by the state of Hawaiʻi.
Dr. Robert E. Kane was recruited from Dartmouth University in 1966 to oversee construction and faculty recruitment at the marine lab, and to serve as the first director of Kewalo Marine Lab, a position he held until his retirement in 1993. His contribution to Kewalo Marine Lab is honored by a yearly lecture series, the Kane Lecture Series, held at the marine lab. By 1970, the first four faculty members (Drs. John M. Arnold, Ian R. Gibbons, Michael G. Hadfield, and Tom Humphreys) had been recruited by Dr. Kane, and set up their research programs at the nearby Waikiki Aquarium while awaiting completion of the facility. The five founding faculty and research groups moved into the new Laboratory in the summer of 1972 from the temporary quarters they had occupied at the Aquarium. Their research programs were focused primarily on cellular and developmental biology, and they rapidly progressed toward developing important research-model organisms from a few marine invertebrates, including sea urchins, gastropods, squid, and sponges.
Since 1972, Kewalo Marine Laboratory has earned an international reputation for excellent research in the basic biological sciences, and has played a vital role in fulfilling the University of Hawaiʻi's mission in marine biological research. The faculty and researchers at Kewalo Marine Lab have kept Hawaiʻi at the forefront of experimental marine biology, and have helped to make the University of Hawaiʻi a well-known and respected institution among scientists worldwide for its role in pushing the frontiers of marine biological discovery.
Past & Present Directors of Kewalo Marine Lab
Dr. Robert Kane (1966-1993)
Dr. Ian Gibbons (1993-1996)
Dr. Michael Hadfield (1996-2007)
Dr. Mark Martindale (2007-2012)
Dr. Robert Richmond (2013-present)