March 17, 2023

USM Hosts MGCCC & PRCC Students for STEM in the Sound Day

Darkhorse Press

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Coastal Operations granted special access to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College & Pearl River Community College students earlier this month for STEM in the Sound day to engage with faculty, scientists, and engineers aboard the research vessel Jim Franks.

Coastal USM specializes in providing students with unique learning experiences working side-by-side with our educators through hands-on experiences along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Students learned how remote underwater vehicles operate, identified local species, and studied coastal environments as they relate to the blue economy.

These students received one-on-one time with educators, scientists, and engineers experienced in the natural sciences and technical programs focused on the blue economy.

“The blue economy is sustained and advanced with a workforce that has the skills critical to employers in that environment, and those positions often require a high degree of expertise and training and are in high demand,” said Dr. Jacob Breland, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Coastal Operations.

Students boarded the research vessel R/V Jim Franks and cruised into the Mississippi Sound working alongside faculty researchers and engineers experienced in the natural sciences and technical programs focused on the blue economy. The expedition focused on raising awareness of important topics like resilient ocean and coastal environments.

Coastal USM programs include marine science, hydrographic science, geoscience, sustainability science, and other technology- based programs like engineering and logistics. All programs integral to coastal communities.

“Our direct access to the MS Sound and Gulf of Mexico is a game changer,” said Breland. “We offer one of the only areas in the United States where both shallow and deep water access is available year round, and the University has been working with our partners to create a research landscape where both the government and private companies can build and test prototypes in real time with immediate access to the marine environment where they refine their models as they bring them to bear to respond to issues relevant to those living and working in coastal and maritime settings.”

Visit the USM Coastal Operations page to learn more about blue economy, academic programs at

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