Centro TORTUGA (Tropical Oceanography Research Training for Undergraduate Academics) was developed to connect students at two undergraduate-focused institutions in Puerto Rico, Universidad Ana G. Méndez, Gurabo Campus (Formerly known as Universidad del Turabo) and Universidad Metropolitana, with research experiences in the marine sciences that are more frequently carried out at large universities. In collaboration with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, professors and students at UT and Universidad Ana G. Méndez, Cupey Campus (Formerly known as Universidad Metropolitana) engage in year-round activities to build basic research skills, field camps that introduce students to the challenges and excitement of working in coastal ecosystems, and professional development activities such as personal statement writing, science communication, and networking. Students are given opportunities to carry out research themselves, exposure to marine science professionals through seminars, internships, and travel to national meetings. 

Centro TORTUGA is committed to developing partnerships among research and non-research institutions and government and nonprofit institutions to build a sustainable and effective education center focused on Puerto Rico’s coastal ecosystems. The project includes a diverse interdisciplinary team of scientists and educators from both the mainland United States and Puerto Rico. The team and center are committed to increasing marine science learning opportunities for underrepresented and underserved students.