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Released March 19, 2004

SOUTHERN MISS TO TAKE STUDENTS INTO COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS

OCEAN SPRINGS -- Students and nature lovers are invited to explore the coast through courses at The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory this summer. Registration is now underway for the laboratory's summer field program that introduces college students to what is unique about the plants, animals and habitats of the coast.

The courses, most offering graduate as well as undergraduate college credit, take students out into local environments. Their explorations range from observation of the largest of whales inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico to the tiniest of invertebrates residing in the bottom sediments of the Mississippi Sound.

"Our summer program offers students from our affiliates -- universities and colleges distributed throughout Mississippi and the Mississippi Valley -- hands-on experience in a coastal and marine environment," said Dr. Jeffrey M. Lotz, chair of the Department of Coastal Sciences at the GCRL. "And the experience they gain will be at a facility where scientists are conducting world-class research in the areas of science that the students will be studying."

Dawne Hard, summer program coordinator, noted that each year individuals who are just interested in learning more about the coastal environment also register for the summer program. "They may take the course for credit or audit it, but they really enjoy the intense learning experiences on our field trips and in our classrooms and laboratories."

The 2004 lineup includes three courses held May 17-28 on coastal ornithology, barrier island ecology, and marine law and policy. First-term courses scheduled June 1-30 are oceanography and marine biology, both for undergraduate credit only, marine invertebrate zoology, and marine ecology. Second-term courses offered July 5-Aug. 6 are marine biology, marine mammals, and elasmobranch biology, which focuses on sharks, skates and stingrays. Coastal vegetation will be offered July 5-July 30. Dates for a two-week course on coastal ecology for teachers will be announced later.

"We also offer students the opportunity to conduct individualized study and research under the direction of our faculty," Hard said. "Advanced students can develop their research skills through field, laboratory and library research. They can work in any discipline of marine science in which we have a coastal sciences faculty member to direct their research."

Students may earn up to 12 semester hours in a summer. Classes are full-day sessions each weekday, usually from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hard said that individuals who wish to audit a course are not required to take tests and do not receive college credit. They are, however, responsible for completing the registration process including tuition and other fees. For information, e-mail dawne.hard@usm.edu, call (228) 872-4223 or visit www.usm.edu/gcrl/academic.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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