Tuesday, October 24, 2017 1:48 am Last modified: 1:45 am

UVI Announces Research Day Winners

The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) has announced the winning students of the 6th Annual UVI Research Day.

The Office of Research and Public Service and the Eastern Caribbean Center hosted the event in April on the St. Thomas Campus and Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix as an open forum for students, faculty and staff to discuss a myriad of topics that affect the community. Each research presentation involved a poster display and invited discussion about a specific topic.

Michael Rosario and Chanae Ottley emerged as the Research Day joint winners on UVI’s St. Croix campus. Rosario, an undergraduate student in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, presented “Cardiovascular Fitness Is Directly Related to Left Entorhinal Cortical Thickness in Healthy Young Adults.” This research concluded that cardiovascular fitness may be implicated in the experience-dependent plasticity of structures in the medial temporal lobe, even in healthy young adults.

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Chanae Ottley, an undergraduate in the College of Science and Mathematics, presented on “Behavioral Patterns of the Index of Non-Repetitive Sequences.” This study focused on sequences of group elements that sum to zero; it has numerous applications in game and graph theory.

Nirisha Commodore and Genique Nicholas were also named the Research Day joint winners on the St. Thomas Campus.  Commodore, an undergraduate student in the College of Science and Mathematics, researched “Optimizing Molecular Identification Techniques for Stegastes Adustus Erythrocytes Infected with Haemohormidium-like Apicomplexan Parasites.”  The research looks at Caribbean damselfish whose blood vessels are infected with parasites; it aims to establish the complete life cycle of the parasites.

Stuart Weiss, faculty member in the Agricultural Experiment Station on the St. Croix campus, was the winner judged to have presented the best research poster on “Primary Macronutrient Dynamics of Sunn Hemp Residue in Different Mulching Strategies for Organic Tropical Cropping Systems.” Results from his study indicate that the decomposition and subsequent release of primary macronutrients are primarily influenced by time and treatment.

On St. Thomas campus, Marilyn Brandt emerged as the faculty award winner with the poster, “Diversity Affects Disease Transmission in Caribbean Corals.” The work “tracked the prevalence of coral disease among multiple sites over an extended time period and examined the spatio-temporal patterns of species susceptibility.”

Graduate student award winner, John Cassell, was the winner of the Master of Marine and Environmental Science poster competition. He presented the study “Palatability of Seagrass Species in Brewers Bay, St. Thomas, USVI.”

Frank Mills, vice provost for research and public service and chair of the annual research day committee, applauded the students’ and faculty’s efforts. “As chair of the UVI Research Day Committee, I commend the enormous efforts of all the students and faculty who contributed research posters on both campuses to UVI Research Day. The benefits that both theoretical and applied research offer and promise the Virgin Islands are limitless.  It was truly gratifying for us to welcome the many participating high school students on both campuses.”

Each undergraduate contestant was judged on 12 items, and faculty were assessed on 14 items, including the quality of the poster figures and graphs, hypothesis, statement of purpose, knowledge of the research subject and evidence in support of the conclusions. This year, 25 poster presentations, demonstrations and nine faculty posters were presented on the St. Croix campus and 28 undergraduates and seven faculty on the St. Thomas campus.

From 2012 to 2017, UVI has been following its strategic plan, titled “Pathways to Greatness.” One of the goals of the plan is the expansion of innovative research by encouraging faculty and undergraduate students to become involved as the institution strives to achieve greatness. With this goal in mind, UVI Research Day has now become a cornerstone for the university.

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