Gov. Phil Bryant today named the Center for Gulf Studies, a research consortium led by The University of Southern Mississippi, as the RESTORE Research Center of Excellence for the state of Mississippi. The University of Mississippi, Jackson State University and Mississippi State University are partners in the research consortium.
Following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Congress established the RESTORE Act to direct Clean Water Act penalties collected from responsible parties to the states impacted by the oil spill. The RESTORE Act includes a 2.5 percent funding designation to establish Research Centers of Excellence.
Through the Center for Gulf Studies, Mississippi is already gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and its relationship to environmental stressors like storms and oil spills. Now with the designation of the Center for Gulf Studies as a RESTORE Research Center of Excellence, Mississippi is further positioned as a leader in Gulf research.
"The Center for Gulf Studies, utilizing the existing resources of the Mississippi Research Consortium of The University of Southern Mississippi, Jackson State, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, will provide significant research for not only the state of Mississippi but also the entire Gulf of Mexico. This research is just not academic; it will help grow our local economy and benefit all types of business sectors," Gov. Bryant said.
The results of studies conducted by the center will be shared with other scientists, agencies and research groups to enhance coastal resource management and develop practical applications that can drive technology innovation and business development.
Gov. Bryant was joined at the announcement by Trudy Fisher, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality; Dr. Hank Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education; and Dr. Rodney Bennett, President-elect of The University of Southern Mississippi.
"The Center for Gulf Studies' research will further our understanding of the condition of our natural resources and how to better protect them," Fisher said. "It is rewarding to use the tragedy of the oil spill to increase our knowledge of the Gulf, to benefit our economy, and improve the quality of life for our citizens."
"The Center for Gulf Studies represents an excellent example of how Mississippi Public Universities work collaboratively to advance the state," Bounds said. "By leveraging the collective resources of the universities and working with other state and federal agencies, the Center will conduct research that will unlock the mysteries of the Gulf and translate into products and information that will improve the quality of life for all Mississippians."
"Southern Miss has a rich tradition in marine and coastal research excellence, and I applaud the vision and actions of Governor Bryant and Director Fisher as they continue to keep Mississippi's science and technology capabilities at the center of environmental and economic recovery in the Gulf region," Bennett said. "I see a bright future as our university and this institutional partnership continue to lead at the cutting edge of meaningful ocean science."