- Associated Press - Thursday, May 11, 2017

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - A marine biologist and longtime University of Southern Mississippi faculty member will address the university’s graduates.

Jim Franks, who has more than 40 years of research experience studying fish in the Gulf of Mexico, will speak to graduates in two Friday ceremonies in Hattiesburg and one Saturday ceremony in Biloxi. Franks will be presented an honorary degree at the final ceremony.

USM recently named a new research boat for Franks to honor his service. Franks credits a former director of the lab for inspiring his career as a marine biologist and says he has tried to provide students with similarly rewarding research experiences.

About 1,900 students are expected to receive degrees at the three ceremonies. The university says it’s one of its largest graduating classes in recent years.

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