The School of Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) harnesses elements from key areas of The University of Southern Mississippi, including the Division of Marine Science (DMS) at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) in Ocean Springs, Miss., and the University’s fleet of five research vessels, to create a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized leader in marine science.
The fleet boasts five research vessels, including the 60-foot R/V Jim Franks and the 135-foot R/V Point Sur, which is the only oceanographic-class research vessel home-ported in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
The purpose of SOST is to aggregate all of Southern Miss’ marine-related research and education programs under a single administrative unit and to coordinate, but not consolidate, operating budgets and facilities. The SOST 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 SOST will further the mission of the College of Science and Technology 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. The goal of the SOST is to increase productivity of Southern Miss’ marine-related research, education and economic development enterprises through enhanced coordination of research and education programs, improved opportunities for external funding, and increased focus on community and industry relations. Metrics for success include increased graduate and undergraduate enrollment in the marine science programs, increased scholarly output by University faculty, and fulfilling the educated workforce needs of a growing blue economy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Along with joining resources, SOST benefits include increased educational opportunities for students, efficiency during projects, better-allocated taxpayer resources and easier-to-leverage resource funds.
“Creating this school allows The University of Southern Mississippi to assume the leadership role in marine science in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Monty Graham, SOST director. “The School of Ocean Science and Technology reflects the nexus between USM’s identified center of excellence in marine science and education with an emphasis on stakeholder engagement and economic development.”