The University of the Virgin Islands Master of Marine and Environmental Science Program (MMES) has been awarded a $275,900 four-year grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) S-STEM program to support student scholarships. The NSF's S-STEM grant - Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - is a competitive grant designed to support scholarships for academically talented students with financial need, enabling them to enter the scientific workforce after completion of their degrees. For the first year of the grant cycle, the 2009-2010 academic year, UVI will receive $68,875.
Six students will receive scholarships of $10,000 each, for each grant year. This year three first-year students and three second-year students will receive the scholarships. "The grant means that currently enrolled students will not have to take out such large loans to attend graduate school," said UVI Professor of Marine Biology and Co-Principal Investigator of the grant Dr. Teresa Turner. "It reduces the financial burden on them and will allow them to focus on their course work, research and professional development," Dr. Turner said. "This funding will enable UVI to compete with other graduate programs for talented students and it will decrease the financial barriers that may prevent students from participating in the program."
Currently, 21 students are enrolled in UVI's MMES Program. The program's application deadline is March 1, and students are accepted before April 15. Ten new students are accepted into the program each year. In addition to the scholarships, the grant will fund salaries for tutors to ensure student success and student memberships in professional associations.
Dr. Turner said the scholarships target Virgin Islanders in particular but other strong students can be supported also. "The idea is to train a diverse group of environmental leaders to respond to the need for creative, well prepared managers and scientists to address Caribbean and global environmental crises," Dr. Turner said. "UVI will work with other donors to secure further private scholarship funding to build on this base."