International Research and Study

The faculty of the Department of Geography and Geology are very active in international research and study abroad opportunities.

International research in the Department stretches across the spectrum of the discipline. Faculty strongly encourage undergraduate and graduate students to become engaged in international research. The following are some of the recent international research projects:

  • Andean South America - Professor Andy Reese conducts palynological studies from ice cores atop several Andean glaciers and ice caps. His research is focused upon global climate change and environmental responses.
  • Costa Rica - Professor Dixon works with the Organization for Tropical Studies to examine the environmental impacts and land use changes associated with agricultural colonization along the Panama border of southern Costa Rica.  Also Dr. Raber is collaborating with The Nature Conservancy to help with establishing protected areas in Costa Rica and Panama.
  • Honduras - Several faculty have active research pursuits in Honduras. In eastern Honduras, Professor David Cochran is looking into resource management among Tawakan and Miskito Indians in La Mosquitia. Dr. Joby Bass is studying fifty years of land use change among the Lenca in the mountains of southwestern Honduras and is also researching the coffee landscapes in that region. Dr. Dixon is focused upon the impact of lethal yellowing among coconut palms along the Caribbean coast of northern Honduras, and Professor Frank Heitmuller is investigating stream systems and fluvial geomorphology in several interior mountain locations.
  • Cuba - Professor Mark Miller is a leading authority among geographers on the landscapes and peoples of this the largest of the Caribbean Islands. His work includes tourism, economic development, and urban development within Havana.


Geographers place high value upon international travel, study abroad, and foreign fieldwork. Each year geography faculty organize and lead field studies programs to a variety of overseas destinations. These courses are open to undergraduate and graduate students; and they can be taken as transfer credits. All courses are open to non-geography majors.

  • British Studies - This is one of the more popular course offerings among Southern Miss' internationally recognized British Studies Program. Course format and fieldtrips vary year-to-year.  In various years, students descend a coal mine, hike the glacial valleys of northern Scotland, explore central London, or study the physical and human geography of the British landscapes. 
  • Pontlevoy, France - For the past several years, USM students have had the opportunity to study among the vineyards and chateauxs in the Loire Valley of France. A 1000 year old Abbey in Pontlevoy is home to the program. Geography students use the hills, rivers, ruins and monument dotted landscape for field studies and data research in the methodologies of geographical analysis. This is a three week course.
  • Honduras - A seventeen day expedition to research the landscapes and peoples of the north coast of Honduras. For much of the time the group is based on the Caribbean littoral, with it numerous fishing villages, traditional lifestyles, tropical beaches, and coconut plantations. The course also includes a visit to the Mayan ruins at Copan, marine studies of the coral reef system of the Bay Islands, and visiting colonial towns in the western highlands.
  • Jamaica - A three week course designed to examine the economic and tourist development of Jamaica and the Caribbean. Students are based at Ochos Rios, yet have the opportunity to travel to Montego Bay, Kingston, Negril, the Cockpit Country, and numerous rural villages.