Dr. Denis Wiesenburg, a seasoned researcher and oceanographer, assumes his new role at The University of Southern Mississippi as vice president of research at a time when the university is extensively involved in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He has worked on five oil spills during his career, including the Exxon Valdez in 1989.
“Denis Wiesenburg is the right person, at the right time, in the right place. I can think of no one better suited to evaluate the oil spill at the macro level,” declared Southern Miss President Martha Saunders.
A native of Pascagoula, Wiesenburg most recently served as dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. There he was tasked with overseeing a research enterprise comprising 65 faculty, 80 research and support staff and 135 graduate students spread over 13 locations throughout Alaska. In his last fiscal year there, the school received more than $25 million in new research funding, or 20 percent of the university total.
“My intention at Southern Miss is to make sure the vice president’s office works as a catalyst for university research,” explained Wiesenburg. “This is an opportunity to increase our research output and provide support for those who are doing the research.”
This is Wiesenburg’s second stint at Southern Miss. From 1994 to 2004 he was chair of the Department of Marine Science where his research in chemical oceanography involved studies of nutrient dynamics on the continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico. He was also instrumental in securing funding for the Southern Miss Hydrographic Science Research Center which is based at the John C. Stennis Space Center.
“I have always loved Mississippi and the position at Southern Miss is an incredible opportunity to give back to this state,” Wiesenburg said. “I’ll spend some of my time mentoring and guiding whoever will be doing work on the present oil spill. I want to help make a difference,” he added.
Wiesenburg earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1970. He obtained his master’s degree from Old Dominion University in 1975, followed by his doctorate from Texas A&M University in 1980.
Dr. Denis Wiesenburg
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.