SPRINGS -- University
of Southern Mississippi ocean and estuarine scientists have launched
the university into12th place in the nation for marine research
Thames said a national survey ranked the marine sciences program
in the top dozen institutions in two categories for the 2001-2002
academic year: federal funding and total funding. Federal support
for Southern Miss marine research for that period totaled $14,227,309
and composed two-thirds of the $21,449,266 total support for the
university's ocean and estuarine research activities.
and researchers' expertise in the disciplines of ocean-related sciences,
as well as their aggressiveness and persistence in pursuing funding,
is a principal reason that Southern Miss is in the top 12 and designated
as a Carnegie doctoral/research-extensive university," Thames
marine sciences received about 19 percent of its support from state
funding, less than one percent from private corporations or foundations
and about 14 percent from other sources such as fees and admissions.
surprised to learn we were ranked ahead of Gulf of Mexico heavyweights,"
said Dr. Jay Grimes, Southern Miss provost on the coast. Grimes
served as the university's first dean of marine sciences prior to
accepting the provost appointment.
units contributing to the total were the Department of Marine Science
at Stennis Space Center, an ocean and atmospheric modeling program
that has since been folded into the marine science department; the
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, which includes the J.L. Scott Marine
Education Center and Aquarium in Biloxi; and the Department of Coastal
Sciences at the GCRL.
More than 77
percent of the federal funding for 2001-2002 came through GCRL grants,
contracts and self-generated funds. Included in that total were
programs conducted through the coastal sciences department, the
Center for Fisheries Research and Development and the Gulf Coast
Geospatial Center, all headquartered at the lab, plus the Scott
Aquarium in Biloxi. The marine science department accounted for
23 percent of the 2001-2002 federal funding and included such stellar
programs as the hydrographic science master's degree program and
the Hydrographic Science Research Center.
The units are
now part of a new School of Ocean and Earth Sciences within the
Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. The geography and
geology departments have also moved into the new school.
Dr. Rex Gandy,
dean of science and technology, said chairs of the departments and
the executive director of the GCRL make up a newly formed executive
coordination team for the school. The team will meet for the first
time Thursday. Gandy said the meeting will be largely organizational
to elect a chair, set meeting times and touch base on upcoming national
and international scientific meetings.
researchers are already charting a course for expanding the scope
of research programs to address needs and opportunities that face
Mississippi and the nation," Gandy said. "This ranking
is one more confirmation of the excellent work they are doing."
The U.S. Commission
on Ocean Policy contracted with the Consortium for Oceanographic
Research and Education (CORE) for the survey of academic institutions.
The fact-finding project was part of the commission's exploration
of the state of the nation's oceans in preparation for a report
and recommendations to President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress.
released its draft of the report April 20 to state governors for
review. It was the first comprehensive review of the nation's ocean
policies in almost 35 years. The final report, with input from the
governors, goes to the president and Congress in June.
research is a well-known economic engine," said John Blossman,
chairman of Blossman Gas and former chair of the board of advisers
for the university's marine research program. "We are fortunate
on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to have this valuable Southern Miss
program. It is providing scientific knowledge that will help sustain
the resources of our coastal and gulf waters."