by Sean Macken

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Gulf Park’s Marine Education Center (MEC) in West Gulfport hosted its first Ocean and Science Technology Camp June 24-28 for students in grades 9-12. The camp is sponsored by Pelagic Research Services.

On Tuesday, June 25th, the 20 students, 9 boarding at USM Gulf Park, were offered a tour of the Research Vessel (R/V) Point Sur headed by Dr. Leila Hamdan and her team who will use a Pelagic Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV) to perform deep sea microbiology experiments from specimens collected from shipwrecks and the ocean floor while embarked on the Point Sur.

After an initial introduction from Dr. Hamdan, Captain Nicholas Allen provided an overview of the Point Sur and the planned sailing to support the upcoming experiments.

Attention then turned to the upcoming research to include an in-depth overview of the Pelagic ROV and its capabilities. Students then received overviews on equipment that will be used for the deep sea research and the lab where Dr. Hamdan’s team will collect data and capture findings from microbiology specimens collected from the ROV. The students asked pointed questions and were genuinely interested in Dr. Hamdan’s.

Then, the students went to the command center that will control the Pelagic ROV. On Friday, the students will remotely connect to the Point Sur and receive a live update from the team and be able to ask questions tied to their camp objectives.

According to USM, the students will spend the week building miniature ROVs and learn more on marine science. Camp Coordinator, Jessi James, was pleased to have 20 students for the initial residential marine science camp hosted by the University.

The MEC offers 3 other camps to include an introductory Sea Camp for 1-6 graders; a Angler Camp for 7-12th graders; a Shark Fest camps for 7-12 graders.

Additional information can be found on the University’s website (