Big check will help the research mission of the GCRL

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - At the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, new buildings are going up, and more research is being done. The lab recently received more than $430,000 from the Secretary of State's office as part of a land dispute settlement that originated back in 2002. To date, GCRL has received almost $3 million from that settlement.

"It's part of the money that we use to run the facility. It helps with our marine education center, and a number of other programs. I mean, it's an important piece  of what makes GCRL work," GCRL Director Dr. Eric Powell said.

A new field studies building is under construction, with new classrooms and labs. It will play an important role for the future of the lab.

"One of our really big growth areas is our undergraduate field related courses and this building is designed specifically to support those courses and so it's really going to give us a capacity to do state of the art teaching," Marine Education Director Chris Snyder said.

For all the students doing research at the Gulf Coast Research lab, this money means their mission can be furthered along at a quicker pace. It's a mission they're very proud of, as well.

Jeremy Higgs is a graduate student.

"I'm looking at the reproductive biology of the fine toothed sharks and that's something that really hasn't been researched in the past," Higgs explained. "So this is groundbreaking work and something new and exciting."

Oil spill research will play a key role at the lab for the next several years, according to Powell.

"We're positioning ourselves for the RESTORE program and the funds that are going to come along for that, so I think we're well positioned to play a major role in the post BP restoration program."

The new field studies building should be open and hosting the first classes of students by the middle of May.

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