The Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR) and the University of the Virgin Islands’ Center for Marine and Environmental Studies will host a grand opening of the university’s new Environmental Analysis Laboratory at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 26, at the former UVI Accounting building (near Faculty East), on the St. Thomas campus.
The lab will serve the growing needs of the territory and the region, offering research services for specialized environmental analyses, including marine and freshwater quality testing, microbiological analyses, toxicological and other chemical analyses related to environmental health and quality. It will significantly improve the capacity of Virgin Islands scientists and students to conduct more rigorous and highly complex laboratory-based research. Office and laboratory space for faculty, staff and graduate research personnel will also be available.
“There is tremendous potential,” Dr. Richard Nemeth said of the environmental lab, noting that he hopes to host visiting scientists from federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the U.S. Geographical Survey and the Centers for Disease Control in the future. Dr. Nemeth is the VI-EPSCoR research program coordinator and a UVI research professor.
The lab will provide access to equipment, resources and infrastructure to advance research and technology services for a variety of issues impacting fragile island ecosystems. This provides an unprecedented level of support for UVI, territorial, regional and national agencies, organizations and collaborations, and will serve to help resource managers and policymakers better utilize and integrate scientific information into their decision making processes.
VI-EPSCoR secured funding to create infrastructure for the lab through a National Science Foundation /VI-EPSCoR grant. The grant will also fund the positions of an environmental laboratory director and an environmental laboratory supervisor. The director will focus on building local and regional partnerships to stimulate new research projects and ensure a consistent source of external funding. The supervisor will ensure the safe and reliable operation of the lab and its instruments. Faculty and staff, in consultation with the VI Small Business Development Center, completed a draft business plan to ensure the lab’s sustainability.