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School of Ocean Science and Engineering

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2021 annual report

2023 Coastal Operations Annual Report

The School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE) harnesses elements from key areas of The University of Southern Mississippi, including academic programs at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) in Ocean Springs, MS, and USM’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, MS to create a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized leader in marine science. 

The purpose of SOSE is to aggregate USM’s marine-related marine science, coastal science, hydrography, and engineering programs under a single administrative unit and coordinate research, scholarship, and service among its academic units.

The SOSE focuses on academic and research enterprises of ocean science already existing at Southern Miss, the state’s flagship university for marine science as previously directed by the Institutions of Higher Learning. Additionally, the SOSE will further the mission of the College of Arts and Sciences and the University to engage in economic development along the coast specific to the maritime economy and provide an administrative structure where maritime technology programs offered through Southern Miss can be housed.

At USM’s School of Ocean Science and Engineering, we are dedicated to cultivating a community where individuals feel valued, celebrated, encouraged, and supported. We are mindful of the truth that it is the intersectionality of our individual lived experiences that make us each a unique resource. We recognize that these shared differences and diverse voices are our strength, and when we listen and act together we can overcome the scientific and societal challenges that we face. 

We strive to support fair and equitable treatment for all individuals, foster an inclusive environment, build a foundation of mutual respect, promote open dialogue, appreciate our differences, educate ourselves to better understand each other, interrupt and prevent biases to nurture a sense of belonging, and create an environment supportive of constructive and intentional dialogues to encourage purposeful actions to overcome obstacles we encounter.

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Halstead – This 50-acre site is the original GCRL location on Davis Bayou in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Numerous academic, research and administrative units are located at this site, including dormitory, dining and classroom facilities supporting the long-running Summer Field Program. The Halstead harbor is home to the R/V Jim Franks, R/V Hermes and Miss Peetsy B, and its boat launch supports small boat research and academic operations.

Cedar Point
– Acquired in the 1990s to support GCRL’s emerging marine aquaculture program, Cedar Point encompasses 225 acres adjacent to the National Park Service’s Gulf Islands National Seashore in eastern Ocean Springs. Within Cedar Point is the new Marine Education Center and Toxicology facility. Situated on 100 acres, the Marine Education Center serves as the education and outreach arm of GCRL and provides an immersion experience for participants in a unique, coastal setting. Research in the $5 million Toxicology lab focuses on the effects of anthropogenic substances on aquatic or marine species. The researchers focus on three key areas: nanotoxicology, toxicogenomics, and the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi, houses the University’s Division of Marine Science, Hydrographic Science Research Center, and Center of Higher Learning. Division faculty conduct research that spans the global oceans while offering graduate programs in marine science and hydrographic science, and undergraduate programs in marine science and ocean engineering. The division also offers the first Unmanned Maritime Systems Certification in the United States. Stennis Space Center is also home to the Naval Meteorological and Oceanographic Command, Naval Oceanographic Office, Fleet Numerical Meteorological and Oceanography Center, the Naval Research Laboratory and the NOAA National Data Buoy Center. These ocean-focused federal offices provide collaborative opportunities for faculty and employment opportunities for alumni. 

Point Cadet in Biloxi, Mississippi, serves as a teaching and research vessel staging site for the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and is the homeport of the R/V Tommy Munro.

The Port of Gulfport is a 250-acre deepwater port and an inland port facility in Gulfport, Mississippi, and is home to the University’s largest research vessel, the R/V Point Sur. The Port of Gulfport is also home to the $12.2-million Marine Research Center (MRC). Located on Highway 90 at the Port’s entrance, the Marine Research Center is the centerpiece for a new maritime blue economy in South Mississippi. The MRC provides shoreside support to USM’s 135-foot oceanographic research vessel, the R/V Point Sur, and to a number of academic and research programs



Advancing the Blue Economy in Mississippi