Oceans dominate the Earth. This is not only a geographic fact—71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans—but also a psychological, societal and economic reality. From a psychological perspective, the ocean has a pull on our hearts and minds that is inexplicable, but real. Economically, the boundary formed where land and oceans meet (coastal zones) are critical to the financial health of the United States, with coastal counties supporting almost one-half of the nation’s GDP. Globally, oceans are Earth's most valuable asset, contributing $70 trillion to the global GDP annually. It’s no surprise that 40% of the world’s population lives in coastal zones. The judicious stewardship of marine and coastal resources requires expanding our knowledge of the processes that influence the ecosystem services and goods that fuel our socioeconomic needs.
The University of South Alabama has a history of investment in marine sciences education and research, supporting a faculty of renowned experts in a range of marine-related disciplines. The USA School of Marine & Environmental Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences is designed to address pressing environmental concerns of the coastal regions. The School trains the next generation of marine and environmental scientists, conducts cutting-edge research, and extends the impact of this training and research through service activities.