Bryant designates "Research Center of Excellence' for oil spill research

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - USM's Center for Gulf Studies at Stennis has been named Mississippi's Research Center of Excellence. That announcement came Thursday afternoon from Governor Phil Bryant at a news conference at the USM Gulf Coast campus in Long Beach.

The designation means Mississippi will be ready when millions of oil spill research dollars start flowing through the RESTORE Act.

"The University of Southern Mississippi is extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to establish the RESTORE Research Center of Excellence for Mississippi," said USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett.

That designation means USM's Center for Gulf Studies, based at Stennis, will facilitate the distribution of millions of dollars in oil spill research funding.

"Working with dozens of university scientists across the state to examine the impact of the oil spill on the gulf eco system," said Dr. Bennett.

The center includes a consortium of scientists and researchers not just from USM, but also The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State and Jackson State University.

"Our research, our restore must go on for the next generation. Don't think we're just going to clean up the beaches and leave. We want to know that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy this Gulf Coast. It is a vibrant estuary for the future," said Governor Phil Bryant.

"This is a long term effort. And it's going to rise and fall on the quality of the science that supports it. The Center for Gulf Studies will become our partner in providing the science and research that will steer important work for the Gulf of Mexico," said DEQ Director Trudy Fisher.

These leaders noted that scientists from Mississippi were among the first to provide research information shortly after the 2010 oil spill.

"This body of water behind us is incredibly important. Not just to Mississippi, not just to the Southeast, but to the world. And so that's one of the reasons these four great research institutions have come together," said IHL Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds.

The long term research work will include not only the impact of the oil spill, but also things like storms or anything else that might threaten the health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.