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@School: UVI Students, Faculty Reveal Research Projects

Students display and explain their projects at the 2013 UVI Research Day. This year's Research Day will be April 10. (File pohoto)Every time another cruise ship glides gracefully to the shores of St. Thomas, it stirs up more than economic activity. Readily visible from the streets and hillsides of Charlotte Amalie are the large pools of sediment that spread out from under the ships and then gradually dissipate again.

How long does it take for a plume to dissolve and the sediment to resettle on the sea floor? What effect does this short-term but repeated churning have on the turbidity (or the clarity) of the water? What impact – if any – does it have on the corals and other marine life in the bay and just outside the harbor’s mouth?

Those questions drove UVI student Jennifer Kisabeth to spend months monitoring cruise ship calls and collecting and analyzing sediment samples.

Working under the guidance of Tyler Smith, associate professor at the university’s Center for Marine and Environmental Studies, and with assistance from marine sciences students, Kisabeth set sediment traps on the ocean floor near both the Crown Bay and the Havensight docks, about seven in each area.

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She and the other students checked the traps on days when there were different numbers of ships and different conditions, retrieving them, checking and weighing the sediment, and diving down to replace the traps. Smith said they checked the traps about 20 different times, between September and January or February.

"The students are doing a great amount of work," he said. "I’m very proud of (Kisabeth)."

The student researchers also used an instrument called a CTD, which stands for conductivity, turbidity and depth, to check the water, lowering it into the sea off the side of a boat.

Smith said the research showed that the plumes die down fairly quickly just outside the harbor, but added that the study might lead others to consider whether there is a way to decrease the plumes in the first place.

The full results of the study will be on display April 10 at the third annual UVI Research Day.

It is just one of scores of recently completed student and faculty research projects that will be presented that day on the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses. The public is invited to view them and also to listen to or to participate in a series of roundtable discussions on a wide-ranging set of topics.

Asha DeGannes, research assistant professor of social sciences and statistics and acting director of the Eastern Caribbean Center, is on the planning committee. She said there will be about 40 poster presentations on St. Thomas and 20 on the smaller St. Croix campus.

Posters include such disparate topics as "The relationship between internalization of mainstream media and female body dissatisfaction: Is thin in?" "Where did the data go? Locating U.S. Census data online;" and "Screening of ciguatera toxins found in the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the United States and British Virgin Islands."

On the St. Croix campus, Nandi Sekou will monitor a roundtable discussion on the legalization of marijuana. Sekou, who teaches constitutional law, said student participants are asked to research case law and constitutional issues pertaining to the subject. They’ll be considering freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the protection of individual liberties. She said discussions usually last about an hour and there will be time for the audience to ask questions and to participate.

The schedule for roundtable discussions on each island was not available, but was expected to be posted soon.

DeGannes said last year’s Research Day on St. Thomas drew about 100 people, but she’s expecting more this year. UVI has reached out to public and private schools and is expecting at least 100 high school students to attend this year, in addition to the general public.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 at the Sports and Fitness Center on the St. Thomas campus and at the Great Hall at the St. Croix campus. More information is available by contacting Asha DeGannes at 1-340-693-1020 or sending questions by email to uviresearchday@live.uvi.edu or going online to http://www.uvi.edu/research/research_day.aspx.

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Students display and explain their projects at the 2013 UVI Research Day. This year's Research Day will be April 10. (File pohoto)Every time another cruise ship glides gracefully to the shores of St. Thomas, it stirs up more than economic activity. Readily visible from the streets and hillsides of Charlotte Amalie are the large pools of sediment that spread out from under the ships and then gradually dissipate again.

How long does it take for a plume to dissolve and the sediment to resettle on the sea floor? What effect does this short-term but repeated churning have on the turbidity (or the clarity) of the water? What impact – if any - does it have on the corals and other marine life in the bay and just outside the harbor’s mouth?

Those questions drove UVI student Jennifer Kisabeth to spend months monitoring cruise ship calls and collecting and analyzing sediment samples.

Working under the guidance of Tyler Smith, associate professor at the university’s Center for Marine and Environmental Studies, and with assistance from marine sciences students, Kisabeth set sediment traps on the ocean floor near both the Crown Bay and the Havensight docks, about seven in each area.

She and the other students checked the traps on days when there were different numbers of ships and different conditions, retrieving them, checking and weighing the sediment, and diving down to replace the traps. Smith said they checked the traps about 20 different times, between September and January or February.

"The students are doing a great amount of work," he said. "I’m very proud of (Kisabeth)."

The student researchers also used an instrument called a CTD, which stands for conductivity, turbidity and depth, to check the water, lowering it into the sea off the side of a boat.

Smith said the research showed that the plumes die down fairly quickly just outside the harbor, but added that the study might lead others to consider whether there is a way to decrease the plumes in the first place.

The full results of the study will be on display April 10 at the third annual UVI Research Day.

It is just one of scores of recently completed student and faculty research projects that will be presented that day on the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses. The public is invited to view them and also to listen to or to participate in a series of roundtable discussions on a wide-ranging set of topics.

Asha DeGannes, research assistant professor of social sciences and statistics and acting director of the Eastern Caribbean Center, is on the planning committee. She said there will be about 40 poster presentations on St. Thomas and 20 on the smaller St. Croix campus.

Posters include such disparate topics as "The relationship between internalization of mainstream media and female body dissatisfaction: Is thin in?" "Where did the data go? Locating U.S. Census data online;" and "Screening of ciguatera toxins found in the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the United States and British Virgin Islands."

On the St. Croix campus, Nandi Sekou will monitor a roundtable discussion on the legalization of marijuana. Sekou, who teaches constitutional law, said student participants are asked to research case law and constitutional issues pertaining to the subject. They’ll be considering freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the protection of individual liberties. She said discussions usually last about an hour and there will be time for the audience to ask questions and to participate.

The schedule for roundtable discussions on each island was not available, but was expected to be posted soon.

DeGannes said last year’s Research Day on St. Thomas drew about 100 people, but she’s expecting more this year. UVI has reached out to public and private schools and is expecting at least 100 high school students to attend this year, in addition to the general public.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 at the Sports and Fitness Center on the St. Thomas campus and at the Great Hall at the St. Croix campus. More information is available by contacting Asha DeGannes at 1-340-693-1020 or sending questions by email to uviresearchday@live.uvi.edu or going online to http://www.uvi.edu/research/research_day.aspx.