The DMR’s loss has become the University of Southern Mississippi’s gain.
Kelly Lucas, the state Department of Marine Resources’ chief scientific officer since 2013, is leaving to become director of the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Lab.
DMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said the state office is advertising for a new chief scientific officer. There is no time frame on filling the position.
For Lucas, it’s an opportunity to return to one of her alma maters. She earned her doctorate in coastal sciences from USM.
“The School of Ocean Science and Technology is incredibly happy to have Dr. Lucas join us at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory,” the school’s Director Monty Graham said in a press release. “Dr. Lucas brings an incredible background as a proven researcher, scientific leader and a policy expert. The depth and breadth of her work will undoubtedly propel USM forward as an international powerhouse in marine aquaculture.”
The $25 million aquaculture center employs cutting-edge technology, peer-reviewed research and hands-on testing to grow fish in an environmentally responsible and economically feasible manner, according to a USM press release. It works directly with blue crab, red snapper, marine shrimp, spotted sea trout and striped bass.
Lucas said she hopes to utilize the work being done at the aquaculture center to bolster seafood numbers for the future.