June 23, 2017  

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Southern Miss and EPA Sign New Memorandum of Understanding

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The MOU signing included the following officials: Front row: Diane Altsman, Chief of Staff, EPA Gulf Program; President Rodney D. Bennett, USM; Back row: LaKeshia Robertson, Life Scientist, EPA Gulf Program; Monty Graham, Interim Director GCRL and Chair, Department of Marine Science, USM; Chris Snyder, Director of GCRL's Marine Education Center; Jessica Kastler, Program Coordinator, GCRL's Marine Education Center; and Dr. Steve Miller, Vice President, USM Gulf Park Campus. (Photo by Martha Brown)

Today, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program (EPA Gulf Program) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will serve to increase cooperation between the two in areas of mutual interest.

USM President Rodney D. Bennett and Diane T. Altsman, EPA Gulf Program Chief of Staff signed the MOU at the University’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) in Ocean Springs, Miss. The agreement formalizes a partnership between Southern Miss and the EPA Gulf Program and will provide environmental education opportunities to students at GCRL.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to further expand the University’s role in researching the Gulf of Mexico and its impact on the coastal region,” said President Bennett. “Our partnership with the EPA Gulf Office will allow for greater agency collaboration as we work to create stronger links between Gulf resources, education and research opportunities, and community and economic development.”

This alliance will allow USM and the EPA Gulf Office to offer combined technical skills and research to work toward resolving environmental and natural resource problems within the ecological system of the Gulf of Mexico.

“The EPA Gulf Program will work closely with GCRL to develop and implement programs that promote sound science and experiential learning of Gulf ecosystems. This collaborative effort will pave the way for future careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), ultimately creating gatekeepers of our most treasured Gulf,” said Diane Altsman, Chief of Staff, EPA Gulf of Mexico Program. “This partnership will advance both parties mission to educate and engage students and parents in efforts to restore and preserve the Gulf.”

The agreement will also promote equal opportunity in higher education, contribute to the capacity of the EPA Gulf Program to provide high-quality education, encourage participation of USM students and faculty in the Gulf Program’s activities, and assist the EPA Gulf Program in expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice while stimulating an interest in STEM. Activities under the MOU will include guest lectures, a student shadowing program, research opportunities, and outreach and engagement programs.

“We are excited about the formalization of this relationship with EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program. Over the years we have worked together on a variety of education and outreach projects and programs. Our shared goals and purposes make this a natural and productive partnership,” said Chris Snyder, Director of GCRL’s Marine Education Center. “This new agreement will only make this partnership stronger and will make our work together more efficient and effective. We are looking forward to a long and productive relationship with the Gulf Office.”

For more information about The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Lab, visit http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/.