Showcasing their new state-of-the-art research equipment, the University of the Virgin Island’s Marine and Environmental Science Program rededicated its on-campus research facility Friday and prepared to welcome new students and marine scientists from around the world.
Friday’s ribbon-cutting celebrated the arrival and installation of new oceanographic equipment at the MacLean Marine Science Center, ushering in a new era of research that will be available to graduate students a well as research scientists from around the world.
“To successfully achieve its goals of attracting the highest caliber of students to these new facilities, the program needed to be infused with state of the art infrastructure,” said UVI President David Hall. “The Center for Marine and Environmental Studies is one of the gems of our university.”
Improvements to the facility include a new cistern and high-tech filtration systems that is gravity fed to new marine holding tanks on the ground floor of the facility, as well as new offices and future environmental analysis lab classrooms. Upcoming projects will include expansion of the existing boat dock and installation of a large boat ramp to facilitate the removal and storage of the programs research vessels.
Hall delivered his remarks to the center’s faculty and program officers of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, known as EPSCoR. The program assists the National Science Foundation in administering grant funding for research and education in science and engineering. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands join 28 states that compete in various National Science Foundation EPSCoR program opportunities.
The public was invited to tour the facility Friday and interact with both faculty and students while getting the chance to observe recently captured lionfish on display in the new temperature-controlled holding tanks.
“This latest installment of new equipment and the creation of additional classrooms marks the end of our second five-year grant,” said Program Director Paul Jobsis. “These grants were very specific in their scope and additional support will always be needed as the program continues.”
There are 12 graduate students participating in the masters of marine and environmental science program conducted at the facility.
Friday’s rededication ceremony was in conjunction with the launch of the Virgin Islands (VI-EPSCoR) annual conference, which will take place at UVI’s St. Thomas campus beginning Saturday morning. The all-day event will feature graduate student research presentations, sessions on research and outreach, and integrated Caribbean coastal ecosystems.
This year’s conference theme is “Celebrating the Past Five Years of Supporting Research in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Registration begins at 8 am.