A new marine research center is coming to the Port of Gulfport and a groundbreaking ceremony is planned Monday.
The center will house several elements of the University of Southern Mississippi’s new School of Ocean Science and Technology.
“The idea is to have a location between the water and the shore,” USM chair and professor of marine science Monty Graham said. “This is all part of developing a blue technology and growing it here where it’ll benefit South Mississippi.”
Blue technology refers to what Graham calls a “marine technology cluster,” which means existing industry, education and research entities working together.
The idea is to have a location between the water and the shore.
USM Chair and Professor of Marine Science Dr. Monty Graham
The port owns the property the center will be built on and the university will lease the building.
Port media and marketing manager Kimberly Aguillard called the center a partnership and said it will establish Gulfport “as an epicenter for marine research in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The university houses its division of marine sciences at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. Architects are using some design specifications from the facility in their blueprints for the new center. Graham said USM students taking interior design classes have also contributed to the design.
The new center will have the ability to fabricate vessel parts and will be big enough to house oceanography equipment. It also will have classrooms for students studying marine science, hydrography and possibly ocean engineering, Graham said.
The center’s location at the port is key, Graham said.
“This will be ideal for our students and scientists,” he said. “It’ll allow the scientists a place to examine ocean specimens. It gives the crew of the research vessel a quick way to mobilize and de-mobilize. It gives the students more of a hands-on approach.”
Graham said the center should be completed by the end of 2017.