Mississippi State VP co-chairing Governor’s Ocean Task Force

June 02, 2017

June 1, 2017

Contact: Jim Laird

David Shaw (Photo by Russ Houston)
David Shaw (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State’s chief research officer will play a key leadership role in a new statewide maritime technologies initiative.

Gov. Phil Bryant announced the formation of his Ocean Task Force today [June 1] in Gulfport.

David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development at MSU, will serve as co-chair.

The governor has charged the group with developing a master plan to identify and meet critical needs for economic development around maritime technologies, including unmanned maritime systems (UMS).

“The State of Mississippi and Mississippi State University possess a number of unique assets that position us at the center of unmanned and autonomous systems development. These new technologies have the potential to transform how we manage the critical resources along the Coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem,” Shaw said.


According to the Governor’s Office, several existing factors provide a strong foundation to attract the unmanned maritime systems industry to the state. Among them:

—  Extensive U.S. Naval Oceanography operations at Stennis Space Center.

—  Strong university engagement in both unmanned maritime and unmanned aerial research.

—  Development of a new unmanned systems testing and training range in the Gulf of Mexico offering an “unprecedented concentration” of operational environments across seafloor, ocean interior, air and space.

The task force will examine UMS research, development and operations, technical workforce development, private sector investment, technology transfer and other industry needs.


Mississippi State is engaged in a wide range of R&D initiatives in the region, including:

—  The university is leading both the Federal Aviation Administration’s and the Department of Homeland Security’s centers of excellence of unmanned aircraft systems research and testing with significant operations in southern Mississippi. See more at http://assureuas.org and http://www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2017/04/mississippi-state-select….

—  A research team from MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute is using unmanned aircraft with advanced sensors to map coastal wetlands to aid NOAA weather forecasters. The team has also identified an invasive grass species in the course of their work. See more at http://www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2017/05/while-mapping-gulf-coast….

—  Mississippi State scientists and Extension Service specialists are also working to restore Mississippi’s oyster industry. See more at http://www.msstate.edu/videos/2017/05/we-ring-true-restoring-oyster-habi… and http://coastal.msstate.edu/restoring-oyster-industry.

—  The university also leads the Northern Gulf Institute — a NOAA cooperative institute that includes the University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University, Florida State University, University of Alabama-Huntsville and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. See more at http://www.ngi.msstate.edu.

—  The $9-million, 40,000-square-foot MSU Science and Technology Center at Stennis Space Center is home to NOAA and university scientists and support personnel, and serves as an additional hub for MSU’s research activities on the Coast.

“I’m confident that our state could be home to everything from design to testing to the manufacture of leading-edge maritime technology, and I look forward to evaluating the potential for that possibility and others with my fellow task force members,” Shaw said.


The Governor’s Ocean Task Force includes members with diverse backgrounds in research, industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and economic development. They will work to complete their report in 120 days.

Learn more about research at Mississippi State at www.research.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.