The Northern Gulf Institute has continued to make immense strides in strategic research and development in the Gulf region of Mississippi.
Led by Mississippi State University with various other collegiate partners across the South, NGI focuses on climate change and climate variability, effects of regional ecosystems, coastal hazards, ecosystem management as well as effective and efficient data management systems supporting a data-driven economy.
NGI Director Robert Moorhead spoke at Starkville Rotary Club’s weekly meeting Monday on the importance of the organization within MSU.
“We want a mechanism where we can build a relationship with a major university to build our research,” Moorhead said. “In theory what we do is, when we get more funding and have people to do the work, they fund this cooperative institute. Being the entrepreneurial people that we tend to be, we try to get them more money than they can handle and get them to fund us to do it.”
NGI is a Cooperative Institute, an academic institution that demonstrates the highest level of performance and conducts research within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The institute primarily works with the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf of Mexico regional focus sets NGI apart from other NOAA-funded Cooperative Institutes, Moorhead said. Currently, NGI has a signed Memorandum of Understanding with particular Mexican research institutions to address problems within the Gulf.
“That gives us the opportunity to go down there, work with them, try to understand the problems from their perspective and some oil spill issues that come up in that relationship,” Moorhead said.
There are four staff members employed to NGI at MSU’s campus. Seventeen employees work at Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, while nine others work across the southeastern border.
Moorhead announced NGI will receive new funding worth $86 million over the next five years to finance research and educational programs. He said the organization can even get a hunting license. While MSU has not officially announced this, he said the university will receive around half of the funds.
“I try to keep it traditionally around half so the other universities will stay involved,” Moorhead said.
Moorhead spoke of one particular project the institute is currently operating by creating flood mapping for the National Weather Service for improved warnings and weather predictions. By creating an aerial, NGI can fly aircrafts and send real reduced imagery to the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center in order to have a stronger forecast of what the flood conditions are.
“Over the Mississippi River, we can actually fly from Greenwood all the way to Vicksburg all the way up to Memphis,” Moorhead said.