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Director's Welcome
USC Sea Grant: The Urban Ocean Program

linda duguay
The University of Southern California, one of the largest private universities in the United States, has participated in the National Sea Grant College Program for over 30 years and has more than a 100-year history of marine science research in Southern California. USC's facilities, research, and curricula make it the principal university in the Los Angeles region for ocean studies, and it has demonstrated excellence in marine research and education from the beginning of the 20th Century. The establishment of the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies (WIES) in 1995 to connect to USC's environmental science community makes it an optimum site for a Sea Grant program. WIES operates on the USC campus and at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island and is growing rapidly.

The University of Southern California's location in the middle of Los Angeles has made the Sea Grant Program at USC an important regional resource, concentrating on issues arising out of the necessity of managing people and resources in an intensely developed coastline. For this reason, in the 1980s the USC Sea Grant program adopted as its programmatic theme the "Urban Ocean," a theme that continues to best characterize our focus on the needs of this unique region.

santa monica beach
Photo Credit: Charlotte Stevenson
The problems found in the "Urban Ocean" environment of Southern California are not unique to the region. In addressing the range of issues found here, we will continue to provide information and models serving our own as well as other urban coastal regions in the U.S. and around the world. We consider Los Angeles the city of the future and treat it as an Urban Ocean laboratory. Our dedication to the Urban Ocean theme is reflected in our calls for proposals, in our planning documents, in our project evaluation process, and in our philosophies of science program management. We fund research on the critical issues associated with the influence of massive cities on the sea, promote connections between scientists and the policy-makers who must craft solutions, and broadly distribute information to the electorate through public education outreach efforts.

USC Sea Grant's primary responsibility is to contribute to solving the problems of the Urban Ocean, while recognizing the opportunities for coastal commerce, recreation and improving the quality of life in coastal regions such as Southern California.

port of los angeles
Photo Credit: Phyllis Grifman

The USC Sea Grant Program is staffed by seven professionals, an information technology specialist, and a financial and administrative coordinator. Sea Grant is housed in the Allan Hancock Foundation building on USC's main campus, which also houses faculty and labs in the Marine Environmental Biology program and the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. The Hancock Building is in the center of USC, and has been the historic home for marine biology laboratories and offices since it was constructed in 1940. In 2008, the Sea Grant staff offices were relocated to the Hancock Director's Suite, so that all professional and administrative staff is co-located.

Our small staff size allows close cohesion of the various program elements and the invaluable cross-fertilization of ideas, plans, and programming. Research administration, planning and extension and communications efforts combine seamlessly to provide Southern California state and national constituencies with information and services that are naturally interdisciplinary and coordinated.