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Released October 13, 2003


STENNIS SPACE CENTER - The University of Southern Mississippi will significantly enhance higher education at the Stennis Space Center on Oct. 17 with the dedication of two new educational facilities at the south Mississippi space center.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m., Southern Miss will unveil the 17,000-square-foot George A. Knauer Marine Science Building, which includes multimedia-enhanced classrooms and specially designed laboratories for the pursuit of education and research in biological, geological, and physical oceanography, marine chemistry and hydrography.

"We're very excited to see this day finally approach," said Dr. Denis Wiesenburg, chair of the Southern Miss Department of Marine Science, based at Stennis Space Center. "It is very appropriate that such a pioneering facility should be named for Dr. George A. Knauer, the founder of the Southern Miss marine science program."

The new facility will own the distinction of being the first building constructed solely for higher education at the space center. In addition to biological and geological oceanography labs, there will be specially designed marine chemistry labs with a clean room to accommodate the department's high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer used for trace chemical analysis.

The Southern Miss Department of Marine Science has 40 faculty and staff at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss., home to the world's largest population of oceanographers and hydrographers. The department offers both master's and doctoral degrees in marine science and a master's degree in hydrographic science.

Immediately following the dedication of the marine science building, the Center of Higher Learning (CHL) will introduce the new 5,000-square-foot High Performance Visualization Center.

Conrad Johnson, chief scientist of the visualization center, researches real-time immersive visualization of high-resolution data sets. "Visualization of remotely sensed data allows users in real-time to view the parts of a data set that are uniquely important to their application," Johnson said. "The visualization of scientific data allows researchers to examine extremely large datasets ranging from molecules to planets in four dimensions. The immersive capabilities of this new facility will allow these researchers to gain a better understanding of their complex research initiatives."

"Recent work at the visualization center has allowed scientists to view the former town of Gainesville, Miss., the Pearl River, the Gulf of Mexico, downtown New Orleans, La., and Columbus Air Force Base," said Dr. Peter Ranelli, director of CHL. "These visualizations allow the user to become immersed in the virtual world and understand the dynamics."

Stennis Space Center scientists can work collaboratively with multiple people on the same data sets from multiple locations, holding "virtual" meetings with the center's ACCESS grid node. This is part of a worldwide network of more than 180 sites. Each site is fully interconnected and individuals from up to 20 sites at a time are able to see and talk to each other.

The Center of Higher Learning has a dual mission of offering advanced degrees and conducting research to complement and support the agencies at Stennis Space Center. The advanced degrees include three doctoral, 10 master's, and one certificate program. The research areas, which include High Performance Computing and Algorithms, and Geospatial Data, have been greatly enhanced by the addition of the new visualization center.

The High Performance Computing and the Naval Oceanographic Office provided a majority of the funding for the visualization and ACCESS equipment for the visualization center.

Both construction projects were made possible with the approval of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real Property Management. The $2.75 million George A. Knauer Marine Science Building was designed by Studio South Architects of Gulfport, Miss., and constructed by Addison Construction of Purvis, Miss. The $ 1 million Visualization Center was designed by Slaughter/Allred/McNabb PA Architects of Pascagoula, Miss., and constructed by Addison Construction of Purvis, Miss.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM