Gazebo Gazette

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Ocean Science and Engineering (SOSE) took its students out of the classroom and aboard the R/V Point Sur for a day of research and cruising along the Mississippi Sound earlier this semester.

Dr. Joris van der Ham, teaching assistant professor and interim associate director of Undergraduate Programs, said the voyage was the first time the SOSE students could experience this opportunity since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“It’s an effort to engage the students in their program and with the ocean environment. It shows students how to do oceanographic science on a large research vessel,” said van der Ham.

Students left the Port of Gulfport early and spent the day conducting several research-focused activities and gathering data. Van der Ham’s goal was to combine education, engagement and fun in one cruise. The Point Sur sailed due south 30 nautical miles, taking four-hours including a visit around the Mississippi Sound and Cat Island.

Several demonstrations were held collecting data and observing different fish species along the route. Students deployed and retrieved CTDs and gravity corers while also collecting plankton samples and analyzing them through glass jars. The crew also explained the ship’s sensors and research systems.

Nimah Osho-Abdulgafar, an international student in SOSE, benefited from the day’s various activities, saying “The chance to gain firsthand experience with trawl and plankton surveys while out at sea has been an unparalleled academic opportunity, and I’m deeply grateful to the SOSE for making it possible.”.

Another SOSE student, Devin Schneider, found the opportunity to board the Point Sur as a memorable experience and great advancement for research.

“The Point Sur student cruise was a highly valuable experience to me, as I received firsthand experience with a lot of common marine research methods,” said Schneider. “As an aspiring marine scientist, I could not have passed up this opportunity to work with all the scientists and crew members on board, as they showcased many interesting and sometimes beautiful components of the oceanographic world.

“All in all, the cruise further ignited my passion for marine science and gave me a little taste of what I can expect further down the road.”

Front Photo: Students observed different fish species along the Mississippi Sound. Photo by Dr. Joris L. van der Ham.. Side Photo: SOSE students aboard the R/V Point Sur enjoy a day of research and relaxation. Photo by Dr. Joris L. van der Ham.

(Gabriela Shinskie contributed to the report)