A more than $2 million grant has been awarded to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to make improvements to the University of Southern Mississippi Marine Research Center. The funds are being made available as part of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), which provides funding for Gulf Coast states affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
U.S. Senator’s Roger Wicker, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Congressman Steven Palazzo announced the grant on Friday with all three commending the work of USM’s Marine Research Center.
“The University of Southern Mississippi Marine Research Center is home to cutting-edge research that is helping us to understand our nation’s oceans better,” Wicker said. “This RESTORE Act funding will help USM upgrade this facility and continue advancing our state’s blue economy.”
The RESTORE Act grant will support procurement of general and special use fabrication and operational support equipment to upgrade the Marine Research Center with two research and testing labs, one fabrication lab, and support equipment for field research.
“The Marine Research Center is working hand-in-hand with state and federal agencies to study the effects of recent floodwater runoff and algae blooms on the Mississippi Sound. That is just one aspect of Southern Miss’ work on the Gulf Coast and why RESTORE Act funding is being directed to boost the research capabilities of the center,” Hyde-Smith said.
The new upgrades will help the university to grow the maritime technology industry in Mississippi and better monitor and understand the ocean.
“My alma mater is already leading the charge of exploring America’s seafloors,” said Palazzo. “Providing them with improved tools to expand on that research through RESTORE Act funding is a smart investment into our own understandings of America’s oceans.”