Dr. Denis Wiesenburg, a seasoned researcher and oceanographer, assumes his new role at the University of Southern Mississippi as vice president of research at a time when the university is extensively involved in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He has worked on five oil spills during his career, including the Exxon Valdez in 1989.
A native of Pascagoula, Wiesenburg most recently served as dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. There he was tasked with overseeing a research enterprise comprising 65 faculty, 80 research and support staff and 135 graduate students spread over 13 locations throughout Alaska. In his last fiscal year there, the school received more than $25 million in new research funding, or 20 percent of the university total.
This is Wiesenburg’s second stint at Southern Miss. From 1994 to 2004, he was chair of the Department of Marine Science where his research in chemical oceanography involved studies of nutrient dynamics on the continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico. He was also instrumental in securing funding for the Southern Miss Hydrographic Science Research Center, which is based at the John C. Stennis Space Center.
Wiesenburg earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1970. He obtained his master’s degree from Old Dominion University in 1975, followed by his doctorate from Texas A&M University in 1980.