The Port Royal Sound Foundation is pleased to announce a two-year, $60,000, 1:1 matching grant to the University of South Carolina Beaufort and Kim Ritchie, Ph.D., to support research in the Port Royal Sound Area starting August 2019. Dr. Ritchie is Associate Professor of Genetics and Prokaryotic Cell Biology in the Department of Natural Sciences at USCB. She has studied microbes associated with corals and coral reef organisms for more than 25 years. Her current research focuses on the role beneficial bacteria may play in wound healing in elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) and their potential as a source for novel antibiotics. 

According to Foundation Board Chairman Dean Moss,  “Dr. Ritchie and her team at USCB have identified many organisms that may contribute to future antibiotics used to treat human infections and technologies to identify sources of pollution that allow quick response to protect oyster beds.” 

Foundation Executive Director Jody Heyward adds,“Our many volunteers, our board and supporters have a great relationship with USCB and Dr. Ritchie. We welcome this opportunity to contribute to this important work which supports the overall health of the Port Royal Sound.” 

“Through the great work of the foundation and its partnerships with Beaufort County, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Waddell Mariculture Center, South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism and others, many people, including thousands of school children, have learned about the unique qualities of the Port Royal Sound Area,” says Foundation Board Treasurer Dick Stewart.“The pioneering work being done by Dr. Ritchie and USCB is confirming that species in the sound may hold keys to treating MRSA and similar infections. USCB and Dr. Ritchie bring academic and scientific rigor to confirm the importance of the Port Royal Sound Area. We are optimistic that this is the first of many important works!”

The mission of the Port Royal Sound Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is to preserve the Port Royal Sound for the environmental, cultural and economic well-being of our area. The Foundation’s Maritime Center, located at the intersection of the Chechessee River and Highway 170 in the center of Beaufort County, opened in November 2014 and serves as an educational museum with more than 30 exhibits and live animal displays that help build a greater appreciation for the Port Royal Sound. More than 85,000 visitors, including thousands of school children, have visited the Maritime Center and experienced many of the programs they offer. Admission to the Maritime Center is free. 

Located in the heart of the Carolina Sea Islands, the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) is a baccalaureate member of the USC system. Since 2002, USCB has tripled its academic degree programs, doubled its FTE enrollment, opened its first on-campus housing (now serving more than 1,000), and fielded conference and national award-winning Sand Shark athletes in nine sports. The university’s three campuses (Beaufort, Bluffton, and Hilton Head Island) serve a diverse student body of 2,116 students. The University of South Carolina Beaufort provides students with an exceptional place to learn and live in an environment focused on growth, preservation and opportunity.