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Released September 2, 2003

NEW LABORATORY BENEFITS GRAD STUDENTS IN MARINE SCIENCE

STENNIS SPACE CENTER - New graduate students this fall at The University of Southern Mississippi's Department of Marine Science will be the first to benefit from a modern 17,335-square-foot laboratory building at the Stennis Space Center.

Thirty-six students seeking a master's or doctoral degree in marine science at Stennis will begin attending classes and labs in the George A. Knauer Marine Science Building following its dedication in October.

"We've come a long way from the early days when the Center for Marine Science was first established here in trailers and borrowed laboratory space," said Dr. Denis Wiesenburg, chair of the Department of Marine Science. The new facility will own the distinction of being the first building constructed solely for higher education at the space center.

Modern labs and a multimedia-enhanced classroom will allow students and researchers to pursue pioneering research in diverse areas of marine science. 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 analyzing trace chemicals.

"Our distinguished faculty, as well as the superior networking opportunities available through Stennis Space Center, have attracted students to our program from as close as Lucedale and as far away as Norway," Wiesenburg said.

Jens Christian Roth is an officer in the Royal Norwegian Navy who chose the Southern Miss program for its growing reputation with leading oceanographic organizations.

"The factor that brought me to the marine science program was actually that my superiors had a meeting [about it] in NATO," Roth said. "They started to discuss the possibility for me to come to the United States for a Ph.D. with people from the Naval Research Laboratory, and they recommended USM since it was close to both the Naval Research Laboratory and the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office."

Roth plans to share his knowledge when he returns to Norway.

"I'll be teaching physical oceanography and meteorology at the Naval Academy, working on projects, maybe as a project adviser, together with the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, the meteorology institute and the Norwegian defense research establishment."

Another Ph.D. candidate selected the marine science program at Southern Miss for its wide-ranging work in cutting-edge disciplines.

"I chose to pursue my degree at USM because it is the only one in the world with a research emphasis in Airborne Coastal Mapping and Charting," said Jennifer Wozencraft of Lucedale, Miss., a new student in the Department of Marine Science and an employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"The Ph.D. in marine science - with a focus on hydrography, airborne mapping technologies, and sensor fusion - will prepare me to advance the sensor fusion and airborne coastal mapping program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," Wozencraft said.

Colleen Finnegan of Conway, S.C., began classes Aug. 18, working toward a master's degree in physical marine science.

"I decided to pursue a graduate degree in marine science because I enjoyed my undergrad experience and wanted to further my involvement and understanding of the ocean," she said.

Finnegan said the networking opportunities available at the space center swayed her decision to enter the Southern Miss marine science program.

"The location of USM's marine science department was very important to me," Finnegan said. "Because Stennis is known to have a large amount of marine science-oriented research and opportunities available, I was drawn to it. It seemed like the ideal location to continue to work on my degree."

The Southern Miss Department of Marine Science is strategically located 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.

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September 4, 2003 4:27 PM

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