Marine Science Research

Located in the center of a region with an established marine science infrastructure, The University of Southern Mississippi researchers are uniquely positioned to advance new knowledge and developments in one of the last relatively unexplored frontiers for industry development, the Gulf of Mexico.

Location, location, location

As the state's higher education leader in marine research, Southern Miss scientists in the Department of Marine Science are strategically situated at the single-largest concentration of oceanographers and hydrographers in the world at the John C. Stennis Space Center.

The combination of state, federal and private-sector entities at SSC from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense and others provide a unique resource for Southern Miss. Scientists from on-site organizations serve as adjunct faculty members, providing support for student projects.

Healthy oceans

The health of marine and aquatic environments is critical for a variety of applications, from marine aquaculture to the search for new medicines. The University of Southern Mississippi researchers are on the leading edge of marine science research and discovery in these environments, studying a range of topics including:

  • Physical oceanography and data assimilation
  • Ocean optics
  • Marine sediments and micropaleontology
  • Ocean productivity
  • Geochemistry and trace chemical analysis
  • Hydrographic science
  • Remote sensing
  • Ocean acoustics and numerical modeling

Research projects and centers

Research projects deal with environments as disparate as the Southern Ocean near Antarctica to the marshes of coastal Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Likely to become the “weather service” of the ocean, ocean-observing activities are expected to revolutionize oceanographic research as well as coastal management.  

  • The Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar System Project, in partnership with Optech International, is developing the next generation of airborne coastal mapping and charting systems to be used by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Navy and NOAA for both normal and emergency response.
  • The Department of Marine Science is home to one of the few ocean buoys to have survived Hurricane Katrina, providing critical, firsthand ocean data used to help improve forecasting models.
  • A collaboration with the University of Georgia is focused on studying how carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is taken up and released in coastal waters.
  • Professor Vernon Asper was a member of the first research team to investigate the BP oil spill in early May 2010 and continues to research the spill’s impact on the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Researchers are monitoring the water quality and pollutants in areas of the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Several research centers in the department are responsible for a variety of ongoing research projects.

World-class faculty

Faculty members in the Department of Marine Science hail from the world’s most prestigious oceanographic research institutions including Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Texas A&M University and the University of Hawaii.

Faculty and students alike participate in a variety of national and international projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Ocean Drilling Program, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of Naval Research, among others.