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Biologist and CAHS Grad to Tour Schools as 'Celebrity Scientist'

Research Fishery Biologist Dr. Cecil A. Jennings will be the next scientist to tour the territory's schools as part of the VI-EPSCoR Celebrity Scientists Tour, in which well-known local, national and international scientists make their way to schools across the territory in hopes of increasing students' interest in the sciences.

Dr. Jennings, a graduate of Charlotte Amalie High School, works for the US Geological Survey and is an adjunct professor of Fisheries in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Dr. Jennings conducts research on the biology, ecology, and management of imperiled fishes, and fishes of economic or ecological significance. His research focuses on how such populations are affected by habitat alterations. He devises strategies to recover, enhance, or maintain threatened fish populations. He has received numerous awards and is widely published.

Dr. Jennings is scheduled to speak at Charlotte Amalie High School, VI Montessori School and International Academy, Central High School, John H. Woodson Junior High School, St. Joseph's Catholic School and Julius Sprauve Middle School. He will also give a public presentation to UVI's Brothers With a Cause organization at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 4, at the Emancipation Garden on St. Thomas. In his presentations, Dr. Jennings will examine the Virgin Islands' natural history and historical environment, highlighting the ways people interacted with the environment over the years, and the stewardship roles and responsibilities for the future. His presentations will also include his own personal journey to a career in fish biology and ecology. He will also share information on career opportunities in marine and environmental science.

A major goal of VI-EPSCoR is to increase the number of Virgin Islands students entering into the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, by strengthening their interest, research skills and intellectual development.

The Celebrity Scientists Tour is expected to enthuse and challenge students. It should also help students to improve their grades in the sciences as they are motivated to apply themselves more. The visiting scientists are experts in their fields and each has committed to mentoring at least two students who show particular interest and potential in the scientists' area of expertise. The scientists will provide networking opportunities, academic guidance, and information on workshops and conferences to their protégés.

Other scientists who have visited the territory as part of the Celebrity Scientists Tours are Dr. David Guggenheim, also known as the Ocean Doctor, Dr. Debbie Berebichez, also known as the Science Babe, and Virgin Islands native Dr. Trika Gerrard, a marine ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

VI-EPSCoR is the Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, a territorial program housed at UVI, which builds the territory's capacity for scientific research and education. VI-EPSCoR is funded by a five-year $11.5 million Research Infrastructure Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation.

For more information about the Celebrity Scientists Tour, Dr. Cecil A. Jennings, or to get a school involved in the tour, contact Nicolas Drayton at 340-693-1239 or ndrayto@uvi.edu.