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USMs Graham Named to Ocean Exploration Trust Board of Directors

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 02:39pm | By: Jenny Tate

Dr. Monty Graham

University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Ocean Science and Engineering Director Monty Graham has recently been named to the national Board of Directors for Ocean Exploration Trust, Inc.

Ocean Exploration Trust's (OET) mission is to “engage in pure ocean exploration” and was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard. As a leader in ocean exploration, Ballard is best known for his 1985 discovery of the RMS Titanic. He discovered hydrothermal vents and “black smokers” in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in the 1970s. Ballard has successfully located other significant shipwrecks in the world's oceans, including the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown, and John F. Kennedy's boat PT-109. Ballard serves as president and founder of OET.

One of nine board members for OET, Graham will work alongside Ballard and other leaders in oceanography from across the nation to advance scientific discovery of the sea. Four of the nine board members represent Carnegie-classified doctoral research institutions – USM, Harvard University, University of New Hampshire, and University of Rhode Island.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us at The University of Southern Mississippi, as our students will have some incredible opportunities to be a part of exploring the depth and breadth of the sea,” Graham said.

Ocean Exploration Trust goals include: 

  • seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology and chemistry;
  • conducting all scientific research to the highest international academic standards; and
  • serving as role models for the next generation of scientists, engineers and educators.

To explore 96.5 percent of the world's water supply, OET operates the E/V Nautilus, a 211-feet vessel with a permanent crew of 17 and berthing for a 31-member Corps of Exploration. E/V Nautilus utilizes two remotely operated vehicles named ROV Hercules and ROV Argus. These exploration vehicles have surveyed ancient shipwrecks, discovered hydrothermal vents and explored ocean habitats.

When asked about serving on the OET board Graham said, “I'm looking forward to opportunities for advancing pure ocean exploration and discovery. Exploration is an increasingly diminishing part of science but think back on the first 400 years of global exploration. Exploration was largely driven by the desire to understand what resources a state owned—or wanted to own. Modern science is driven by this resource understanding, and it is important to learn what we collectively have on this planet, which is mostly beneath the water's surface.”

In addition to his role as Director of USM's School of Ocean Science and Engineering, Graham serves on the Board of Trustees for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. He is co-lead on the Northern Gulf Institute National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute, an Advisory Board Member for the National Academy of Sciences' Gulf Research Program, and a Board Representative and past Chair for the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative. In 2017, Graham was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant to serve as chairman of the Governor's Ocean Task Force.

Ocean Exploration Trust Board Members

-Mark R. Abbott, Ph.D., President and Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

-Robert D. Ballard, Ph.D., President, Ocean Exploration Trust, Inc., Director of the Center for Ocean Exploration, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island

-Vice Admiral Paul Gaffney II, U.S. Navy (Ret.), President Emeritus, Monmouth University

-Peter Girguis, Ph.D., Professor, Harvard University

-William “Monty” Graham, Ph.D., Director of the School of Ocean Science and Engineering, The University of Southern Mississippi 

-Jacqueline (Jacquie) M. Hollister, National Geographic Society Senior VP of Development, Retired

-Arthur H. House, Ph.D., Chief Cybersecurity Risk Officer, State of Connecticut

-Larry Mayer, Ph.D. (Board Vice Chair), Professor and Director of the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, Director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, University of New Hampshire

-Robert E. Patricelli (Board Chair), Partner, In Tandem Capital Partners, Co-Chair of Connecticut's Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth

For more information about ocean science and engineering programs at USM, visit For further information about Ocean Exploration Trust, Inc., visit