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The McKeough Marine Center is the research and social development arm of the university in the field of marine science. It also does research study on ecosystems adjacent to the coasts and the bay.

  • To work on scientific and environmental problems related to coastal marine resources in the region
  • To develop sound and lasting resource management policies
  • To develop information and education campaign strategies
  • To assist the university in formulating and implementing community-based development strategies


Because of the scarcity of research and funds in the late 80s and 90s, it could be said that marine research in the university went slack.  However, there was a sense of improvement in the 90s as the DA-BFAR gave a grant for resource and ecological assessment in the contiguous bays of Macajalar and Gingoog.  This improvement revived the university marine research, paving the way for the renaming of the Institute as the Marine Biological Research Center (MBRC). 

Under the leadership of Mr. Michael Atrigenio MSc and with the strong collaboration with the Biology Department chaired by Ms. Perpetua Oloroso MSc, the MBRC thrived well.  Moreover, through the support of small-scale grants, the MBRC functioned as an office at the Science Center Faculty Lounge.  It had its own research staff, field vehicle, and operational funds.  Soon, some problems surfaced in the operations of the MBRC: the departure of Mr. Atrigenio created a leadership vacuum in the MBRC and the insufficiency of short-term grants that were not enough to support the office.  These problems contributed to making the MBRC exist only in paper.

In November 2005, upon her reinstatement in Xavier University, Dr. Hilly Ann Roa-Quiaoit initiated the collective restructuring and strengthening of the Marine Biological Research Center in the Biology Department.  As a result of this change, the vision, mission and research directions of the newly-revived marine research center were drafted.

The years that followed saw further growth of the Center with more new externally-funded projects onboard through the efforts of Dr. Hilly Ann R Quiaoit. The Macajalar Bay Development Alliance (MBDA) has become the Center’s main outreach program for the member coastal communities. Other project-based initiatives are geared towards strengthening the Alliance. The Center has also started to adopt the Ridge-River-Reef (R3) approach, extensively conducted in the field research by Fr. Mars P Tan SJ. The Information Education Campaign (IEC) Program raises environmental awareness that now includes the coastal waters’ connectivity to the river catchment.

From 2011 to 2016, MMC was under the acting directorships of Ms. Elaine Villaluz, MSc, Ms. Gertrude Garcia, and Dr. Hilly Quiaoit, in different years, while its present director, Fr. Mars Tan SJ, was doing his doctoral studies in Australia. During these years, MMC got external grants to finance projects that rehabilitated and enhanced the resiliency of threatened habitats like the Macajalar Bay and the Cagayan de Oro River Catchment through certain novel management frameworks by the local communities and the indigenous peoples. Other projects had focused on the assessment and monitoring of some marine coastal resources such as corals, seaweeds, and dugong in Macajalar Bay and the whole country.   

Upon the return of Fr. Tan in 2016, MMC embarked on a new program for high school students, the 5-day marine summer camp while it had continued to engage in externally-funded projects for major marine coastal habitats like the mangroves, corals, and seagrasses in Macajalar Bay. Consultancy work to assist private companies in environmental monitoring has also continued. Engagement with local community partners was also given emphasis to capacitate and empower them for sustainable management of the natural resources.

In 2014, the University inaugurated the new marine station in Jasaan with existing structures that became its dormitory and activity center. The marine station was assigned to MMC for management by University President Roberto C. Yap, SJ to become the hub of marine research, education, and extension work of the university.

Institutional Directives


Sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in Northern Mindanao.


Dedicated to the sustainable development of the coastal community and environment, the McKeough Marine Center will be a center of excellence for marine science research in Northern Mindanao.


The McKeough Marine Center aims to:

  1. Aid academic units in forming competent and skillful students responsive to the needs of the community and the environment;
  2. Provide socially significant programs and activities benefitting the local community and the immediate environment;
  3. Conduct management and conservation activities in the coastal areas of the region addressing contemporary problems and issues on the marine environment;
  4. Build up the capability of the local communities through participatory activities involving the local people and various multi-stakeholders;
  5. Provide competent and dedicated research staff engaged in research.