Dr. William “Monty” Graham has been named chairman of The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Marine Science (DMS).
Graham, a native of Danville, Kentucky, earned his Ph.D. in biology from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), a master of science in marine sciences from the University of California Santa Cruz and a bachelor of science degree in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Before coming to Southern Miss, Graham was a senior marine scientist at Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) for 16 years. Prior to his stint at DISL, he was a post-doctoral research associate at UCSB.
Graham has participated in research projects around the world including Croatia, Palau, Argentina, Chile, and Korea. His research interests include biological oceanography and zooplankton ecology specializing in ecology and biology of gelatinous plankton, such as jellyfish, and their role in heavily fished ecosystems.
“I am incredibly honored to have been selected to lead the Department of Marine Science. I look forward to a continued presence on the Gulf Coast where we can serve our University, state and nation,” said Graham.
Located at Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the DMS offers degrees in marine and hydrographic science, emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach toward a working understanding of the major fields of marine science, including physical oceanography, geological oceanography, biological oceanography, marine chemistry and hydrographic science.
Graham noted the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill propelled the DMS into the national spotlight. “In light of Deepwater Horizon, we have an opportunity to showcase our talents on an international stage. The State of Mississippi can be proud of our world-class scientists, and I look forward to all the challenges as chair.”
College of Science and Technology dean Dr. Joe B. Whitehead, Jr., said Graham brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position. “We are very fortunate to have Monty take leadership the Department of Marine Science at this critical time. I look forward to working with him to expand upon the past successes and meeting future challenges.”
Graham has been involved in numerous research projects, managed in excess of $10 million in grants and contracts; published more than 60 papers and technical reports; and was awarded the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, its most prestigious award in support of junior faculty.
Since 2004, Graham has served as principal investigator and manager of the Fisheries Oceanography of Coastal Alabama (FOCAL) program, a multi-investigator project funded by Alabama’s Marine Resources Division within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and previously funded under a contract with ConocoPhillips.
“The FOCAL project aims to understand impacts on marine plankton, including fish eggs and larvae, by human and natural disturbances and was extremely valuable during last year’s Deepwater Horizondisaster,” said Graham.
His support for the department’s active research surrounding the Deepwater Horizon disaster is unwavering. Following the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout in April of 2010, Graham was one of the earliest recipients of a National Science Foundation Rapid Response grant.
Going forward, Graham’s plans include listening and learning, working to strengthen collaborative ties with existing faculty and forging relationships with Southern Miss colleagues on the Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg, while building on the department’s strong national and international reputation.
“We look forward to serving Southern Miss and the State of Mississippi,” said Graham. “We have an incredibly bright future. Our location at the John C. Stennis Space Center on the coast provides terrific opportunities for collaborations and partnerships with the Navy as well as other federal, state and private entities.”
Graham sees the DMS as a leader in long-term marine research activities. The RESTORE bill, currently before the United States Senate, calls for five “Centers of Excellence” in science and technology of recovery and restoration monitoring following Deepwater Horizon. “The university’s designation as the state’s Center of Excellence for Marine Science by IHL in the 1980s places our Department in a strong position to carry this expanded function forward for many years to come,” he said.
To learn more about The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Marine Sciences, visit www.usm.edu/marine.