Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) is a research and teaching unit of The University of Southern Mississippi dedicated to the advancement of scientific discovery and promotion of academic growth in the fields of marine biology and coastal sciences for the betterment of society, the wise use of natural resources, and the advancement of sound economic development. Formally established by the Mississippi Legislature in 1948 and 1950, the GCRL is the State’s designated marine laboratory, assigned by the State to:
In 1988, the GCRL transitioned from an independent laboratory to a research and teaching unit of the University of Southern Mississippi.
History of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory by Joyce M. Shaw
We are one of the largest marine laboratories in the southeastern United States.
Approximately 200 scientists and support staff are employed through the GCRL and conduct research and teaching in a diverse array of laboratory and academic facilities on our 50-acre Halstead campus and 224-acre Cedar Point site. As a university marine laboratory, GCRL’s focus is on research and academics associated with the marine and coastal environment, with the goals of not only advancing scientific knowledge but also promoting economic development - through sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, coastal restoration and conservation - and higher education for workforce development. Those mission components are achieved through the University’s GCRL-based Division of Coastal Sciences (COA), Center for Fisheries Research and Development (CFRD), Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center (TCMAC), and Marine Education Center (MEC). Specific research emphases among those units include:
Since its inception, a primary objective of the GCRL has been to provide scientific support to the State of Mississippi for research and management needs pertaining to the State’s marine and coastal resources. To that end, GCRL faculty, staff and students collaborate closely with partners at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and serve on committees and panels which provide science-based guidance to the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources (MCMR). This support also extends nationally through our scientists’ participation on regional and federal committees for entities such as the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the NOAA Marine Fisheries Initiative (MARFIN) Panel, and the NOAA Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel.
Specific to the State of Mississippi, current and historical support provided through GCRL includes:
Director of GCRL
Director of SOSE Finance Administration
Director of Physical Plant
Director of External Relations
Director of Vessel Operations
Head Librarian & Associate Professor
Environmental, Health and Safety Officer
Housing & Conference Services Manager
703 East Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, MS 39564
The 50-acre Halstead site is the original location of GCRL, as established by the State Legislature in 1948. Numerous academic, research and administrative units are located at the Halstead site, including GCRL’s Dormitory, Dining Hall, Gunter Library, and classroom facilities (including the Field Studies Building) which support the long-running Summer Field Program. The harbor at this location is home to the R/V Jim Franks and Miss Peetsy B, and its boat launch supports USM small boat research and academic operations.
300 Laurel Oak Drive, Ocean Springs, MS 39564
The 224-acre Cedar Point site is east of the Halstead site and adjacent to the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Davis Bayou Area. The property was donated to USM by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in 1995, initially for expansion of marine aquaculture research at GCRL. Cedar Point includes numerous facilities supporting the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center, and the Research Building there is home to several SOSE faculty. Recovery from Hurricane Katrina damages in 2005 has occurred primarily at this location, with completion of the Marine Education Center in 2018, the Toxicology Building in 2017, and the GCRL Physical Plant facility in 2013.
From the GCRL Halstead Campus, turn right and go 1.4 miles north on Halstead Road to Government Street and turn right. After 2.0 miles, turn right on Knapp Road. Take the first right onto VFW Road. Take the first left onto Park Road. In 0.2 miles, the GCRL entrance is to the left at Laurel Oak Drive.
Point Cadet in Biloxi serves as a research vessel and teaching site for GCRL and is the homeport to the R/V Tommy Munro.