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Coastal USM Makes Waves in the Blue Economy

Mon, 03/27/2023 - 07:40am | By: Gabriela Shinskie

Equipping students with knowledge on coastal tourism, fisheries, and waste management is exactly what The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) seeks to educate the future of our planet. With its first set of graduates from the School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE) in 2021, Coastal USM recognizes the needs of the blue economy.  

The Gulf Park Campus resides on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Long Beach. This campus is the main teaching hub for USM’s goal of being a recognized leader in the nation addressing topics related to the blue economy. With more than 30 academic programs offered, students can choose from a variety of fields including Hydrographic Science, Marine Science, Ocean Engineering, Sustainability Studies, and Sustainability Sciences. 

“The University of Southern Mississippi is uniquely positioned as the premier research university on the Gulf of Mexico,” said Dr. Heather Annulis, Director of the School of Leadership at USM. “The natural resources we have available to us through this body of water provides opportunities for new and existing industries that have the capacity to create economic abundance for our Mississippi Gulf Coast community. It is vital that we have a workforce that is prepared to support the blue economy and we can do this by providing courses and degree programs that will do just that.” 

USM Coastal programs seek to train future scientists to take care of the beloved Gulf of Mexico as a means of preservation and conservation for generations to come. The curriculum is constantly adapting to ever-changing coastal evolutions and trends. 

Dr. Shannon Campbell, Senior Associate Vice-President, Coastal USM, said the University’s role to help sustain the coastal future is vital. 

“USM’s role is multi-faceted in developing the next generation. First, we have to listen to area employers when they describe the knowledge and skills of workers they are seeking to hire. We have to adjust current programs to stay abreast of changing workforce needs. We also have to create new programs of study when new occupations emerge in the workforce,” said Campbell. 

Of course, recruiting students to take on this role is important. Coastal USM is working every day through traditional ways of showing students the importance of these jobs. One of the ways is through events that attract students to the Gulf Park campus for tours. Another is through hands-on events like Stem in the Sound inviting students aboard the research vessel, Jim Franks, in the Mississippi Sound. 

“Students who complete science, technology, engineering, management, and professional programs of study are in high demand, and these are rewarding and high-paying opportunities to live, work and play along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We want our graduates to stay in Mississippi, and we partner with area employers to ensure our students have the best-of-the-best opportunities when they graduate.” said Campbell. 

Providing students with top-notch curriculum through research is another way Coastal USM makes waves in the blue economy. Cynthia Habeeb, marketing strategist for economic programs at USM stresses the impact the University seeks to provide regarding resource management, fostering community involvement and responsibly harvesting food from our oceans. USM houses a variety of research facilities along the Gulf Coast including:  

  •  Center for Fisheries Research and Development, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 
  • Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 
  • Gulf Blue, Gulfport, Mississippi 
  • Marine Education Center, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 
  • Marine Research Center, Gulfport, Mississippi 
  • Roger F Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise, Gulfport, Mississippi 
  • Stennis Space Center, Hydrographic Center  
  • USM Gulf Park Campus, Long Beach, Mississippi 
  • Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 

Visit the Gulf Park campus website to learn more about courses offered.