Howden appointed director of USM Hydrographic Science Research Center


Wed, 04/27/2022 – 09:33 | By: Margaret Ann Macloud

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has appointed Dr. Stephan Howden as Director of the Hydrographic Science Research Center (HSRC). Howden served as interim director and is a faculty member of the School of Ocean Science and Engineering, where the HSRC is located.

“It is an honor to be named Director of the Hydrographic Science Research Center at the University of Southern Mississippi,” said Howden. “Shortly after being hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Marine Science at USM to teach in the fledgling Masters of Hydrographic Science program, the late Rear Admiral Ken Barbor, recently retired from the United States Navy, was hired as the founding director of the CRSS. I have watched and admired his career as he led the HSRC to become a premier hydrographic research organization funded by the US Navy, US Army Corps of Engineers NOAA and others, to solve important questions and problems in hydrography for these organizations.I will strive to carry on this legacy, as well as that of other previous directors, while guiding the center into the future.

Hydrographic science provides the essential geospatial framework required for all activities in marine and limnological environments, including navigation, maritime safety, earth and environmental sciences, and sustainable resource management, among others. As such, it plays a crucial role in sustainability, resilience and adaptation to climate change for ocean, coastal and inland aquatic environments. Some of the research conducted at the Center includes a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Ocean Exploration Institute, which explores, maps and characterizes the nation’s vast ocean terrain to develop and implement new technologies. . The HSRC also has several unmanned systems that are currently in use for research, including underwater systems capable of surveying up to 3,000 meters, surface systems capable of surveying for over a week and airborne systems.

“Dr. Howden has been instrumental in hydrographic science research, education and training,” said Dr. Kelly Lucas, Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations. state and industry are important in creating programs and training scientists to collect information that not only supports navigation and sustainable resource management, but is central to national and environmental security to expand economic opportunity and defend the I am confident that his leadership will continue to advance research and address issues of importance to the nation.

USM is one of only two universities in the country to offer a master’s degree in hydrographic education, and it recently launched a bachelor’s-level program. The Center proudly claims 100% placement of its students.

“This is an exciting time for hydrographic science. It is recognized that hydrographic data must evolve from a single use to purposes such as nautical charts, integrated ocean and coastal mapping, coastal zone management, disaster response, where hydrography serves many users with different survey requirements,” Howden said. “The field is also growing rapidly on multiple fronts, driven by technological innovations such as unmanned ships and aircraft, low-cost sensors for the mass market, storage and cloud computing, and artificial intelligence and machine learning. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development has embraced initiatives such as Seabed 2030 which aims to map 100% of the world’s ocean by 2030. I look forward to continuing to work with USM faculty, staff and students involved in all of these exciting developments.

Dr. Howden earned his Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, an MS from Michigan State University, and a BS from the University at Buffalo. He has worked at USM since 2000.

For more information on the HSRC, visit


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