May 25, 2019  

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Lotz named Interim Director of Gulf Coast Research Lab

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Dr. Jeffrey Lotz aboard GCRL's research vessel the McIlwain. (Office of University Communications photo by Martha Duvall).

Dr. Jeffrey Lotz, chairman of the Department of Coastal Sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), has been named interim lab director. He succeeds Dr. Bill Hawkins, who retired from the position at the end of June.

“Southern Miss Gulf Coast is pleased to have Dr. Lotz step into the leadership position of interim director for GCRL,” said Dr. Frances Lucas, vice president and campus executive officer of Southern Miss Gulf Coast. “With his experience as chair for the Department of Coastal Sciences, Dr. Lotz’ skills and knowledge will allow GCRL to continue moving forward as a premier research facility.”

Lotz has served as chair of the department since 2003. He began his career at GCRL in 1987 as the head of GCRL’s Marine Shrimp Aquaculture program. In 1998 he became a charter member of Southern Miss Department of Coastal Sciences as an associate professor. In 2002 was promoted to professor and was named chair of the Department of Coastal Sciences in 2003.

“I am honored to serve as interim director of GCRL and I see an extraordinarily bright future for the laboratory in the coming years,” said Lotz. “America is finally beginning to recognize the importance of the Gulf of Mexico to the country and the people know that a greater scientific understanding of the unique body of water is required to help Mississippi and the U.S. better manage and sustain the natural resources of the Gulf.”

“The outstanding team of scientists, staff, and graduate students we have at GCRL working in collaboration with scientists throughout the university as well as throughout the Gulf will bring that much needed scientific understanding,” said Lotz.

Lotz received his B.S. in zoology from the University of Minnesota in 1972, and both his master’s and doctorate in zoology from Louisiana State University in 1975 and 1979, respectively. His postdoctoral research was conducted in immunology at Indiana State University from 1983-1985.

Currently, his primary research areas include ecology and epidemiology of parasites and diseases of marine organisms, marine aquaculture and marine stock enhancement. Active research programs include laboratory, field and theoretical epidemiological studies of pathogens of marine shrimp, crabs, and finfish. Additional topics include the development of water-recycle systems for reproduction and aquaculture of shrimp (primarily Litopenaeus vannamei) and finfish (primarily Cynosion nebulosis).

Over the next year the university plans to conduct a national search for a new lab director.

Hawkins served as executive director of GCRL from 2002-2008. He was appointed director in March of 2008 and retired this past June. He led the lab through two of the worst environmental disasters in history -- Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In addition to expanding research and academic opportunities, he shepherded the expansion of GCRL’s physical footprint which now includes 16 buildings at the lab’s 224-acre Cedar Point expansion site in Ocean Springs.

“As we conduct our search for a new director at GCRL, we are grateful to Dr. Hawkins’ for his exceptional leadership skills as GCRL’s director and executive director this past nine years,” said Lucas.

The mission of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Mississippi's marine laboratory, is scientific discovery related to coastal and marine resources, development of new marine technologies, and the education of future scientists and citizens.

For more information about GCRL call 228.872.4200 or visit: