Yesterday, December 2nd, was a big day for the University of South Alabama (USA), which held a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the brand new School of Marine and Environmental Sciences here on campus. Keep reading to learn more about the school and its impact on the university itself.
About the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences
As the only 4-year university in Alabama on the Gulf Coast, USA is in a unique place to explore and learn about the Gulf Coast ecosystem to provide valuable information for the preservation and conservation of our ecosystem.
“The school capitalizes on our strategic location on the Gulf Coast, and allows us to expand opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students in these areas. It will help further our mission to provide exemplary educational opportunities with extraordinary faculty and leading research in the field.”Dr. Andi Kent, interim provost and senior vice president
The school’s 20,000 sq.ft. facility sits on the North side of campus, where it is a part of the Educational Outreach Building. It includes teaching spaces, brand-new laboratories for instruction, and auditorium space.
USA plans on expanding its degree offerings with the founding of this new school, like undergraduate degrees in environmental and sustainability science and marine sciences, as well as creating a Master’s degree in marine and environmental spatial planning and analysis. Some current programs that will receive a re-vamp include:
- Master of Science in Environmental Toxicology program
- Master of Science and Ph.D. programs in Marine Sciences
- Master of Science in Marine Conservation and Resource Management
The school has already secured several sources of funding to begin research on the Gulf Coast:
- $2 million grant from the State and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the Healthy Ocean Initiative
- $11.7 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to track and count greater amberjack to ensure sustainable fisheries
- $2.8 million NOAA sponsorship for a research program for the school to survey Mobile Bay. RESTORE – Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies – focuses on declining populations of important species such as oysters, blue crabs and spotted sea trout.
What this means for USA
USA is in a period of expansion. It has a fast-growing student body, a new stadium, a new university President, and now a new School of Environmental and Marine Sciences. In fact, USA’s growth is in part what inspired the new school. It was founded to aid the ever-growing College of Arts and Sciences by providing resources for those who wish to study marine and environmental sciences.
“We can make a much larger impact by developing younger scientists. We can use the draw of the marine world to attract good students to South.”Dr. Sean Powers, director of the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences
For more information, take a look at their page on USA’s website.
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