Gazebo Gazette

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) hosted leadership from the National Ocean Service for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday, March 15 as they toured Coastal USM.

In connection with her appearance at the US Hydro Conference, 2023, Nicole LeBoeuf, Assistant Administrator of NOAA, visited USM sites along the Gulf Coast. In keeping with existing long term agreements with USM NOAA seeks to enrich its work along the Gulf Coast region utilizing Coastal USM’s vast resources to support strategic objectives. 

“The opportunities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast with Coastal USM are limitless with access to top-rated research facilities and partnerships with academia to fuel workforce development, economic development, ocean research, and innovation,” said LeBoeuf. 

As the Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management at NOAA, LeBoeuf oversees all strategic and operational aspects of America’s premiere coastal and ocean agency. She provides the strategic vision needed to lead the implementation of activities that support the National Ocean Service’s priorities of safe and efficient transportation and commerce; preparedness and risk reduction; and stewardship, tourism, and recreation.

LeBoeuf toured the Gulf & Ship Island Building, home to Gulf Blue. Gulf Blue is a regional partnership of private-sector, federal, state, local and non-profits focused on growing the innovation sector of the Gulf Coast’s economy.  

“Our Gulf Blue programs and initiatives play an integral part connecting blue technology startups from around the world to the strengths of the Mississippi Gulf Coast ecosystem,” stated Dr. Shannon Campbell, Senior Associate Vice-President for USM Coastal Operations. “We work closely with national partners, like Boston-based Sea Ahead, for their expertise in helping later-stage startups achieve their goals.” 

LeBoeuf also toured the USM’s Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise facilities at the Port of Gulfport. These facilities are home to research and development partnerships focused on uncrewed maritime systems and blue technology innovation among USM, federal and industry partners. 

“We were delighted to provide a first-hand look at our facilities, talk about our initiatives and introduce the Assistant Administrator to the people who drive development of new technologies and solutions that benefit science and coastal communities broadly, and specifically along the Gulf Coast,” stated Dr. Leila Hamdan, USM Interim Associate Vice-President for Research, Coastal Operations.