The Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR) has been awarded a five-year $11.5 million Research Infrastructure Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation for building the territory's capacity for scientific research and education. VI-EPSCoR is a territorial program housed at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). The U.S. Virgin Islands received its first VI-EPSCoR grant in 2004, making the territory the smallest jurisdiction to have ever received such an award and UVI the only Historically Black University ever awarded.
The new grant will make it possible for VI-EPSCoR to address issues of vital significance locally and regionally, contribute to global research on the impacts of climate change, work closely with decision makers to apply science to effective management of the territory's natural resources and address local and regional environmental challenges.
VI-EPSCoR Director Dr. Meri Whitaker thanked V.I. Governor John deJongh, Jr., Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen and Senate President Usie Richards and the other members of the VI-EPSCoR Governing Committee for their support.
The new grant includes funding for many initiatives, both at UVI and in the community. Community-wide initiatives include partnering with the Virgin Islands Department of Education and the UVI Divisions of Education and Science and Math to strengthen K-12 science and math education, and hosting community workshops to strengthen linkages between researchers and decision makers to address critical environmental challenges facing the territory. VI-EPSCoR investments in science and math education will enable the territory's young people to be better prepared to enter the workforce or further education and will strengthen the territory's science and technical workforce.
Initiatives at UVI include investments in research facilities, including upgrades to marine labs and equipment, a new lab for environmental analysis, and research vessels; opportunities for UVI undergraduate and graduate students to engage in marine and environmental research; and enhancements to the new UVI graduate programs in Mathematics for Secondary Teachers and in Marine and Environmental Science. Another initiative is the recruitment of new faculty in the sciences to build UVI's research program in marine and environmental science and UVI's undergraduate and graduate programs in science and mathematics.
The new grant also includes:
• Research funding for interdisciplinary studies of Integrated Caribbean Coastal Ecosystems, as well as related social, health and economic impacts on island communities.
• Investments in UVI's cyber infrastructure including broadband connectivity and Internet2.
• Development of environmental web portals and digital materials to support the territory's research, education and outreach needs.
For more information call VI-EPSCoR Director Dr. Meri Whitaker at 693-1478.