Welcome & Overview:
The Physics Department consists of three physics faculty and offers an A.S. in Physics. There are several mainland engineering institutions with which UVI has a coordinated 3/2 Engineering transfer program. Students in those programs typically obtain their A.S. in Physics before tranferring. In addition, they may receive a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from UVI upon completion of their engineering degree.
The associate of science program in physics is intended to develop an acute awareness of our physical environment on a conceptual level through rigorous mathematical manipulation of the fundamental laws of physics and through utilization of the techniques of the modern physical scientist. It is also designed to serve as an intermediate step towards acquiring the baccalaureate degree in engineering, physics, or similar science. Depending upon previous educational background, this associate degree can be completed in two to three years.
Dr. David J Smith is the principle investigator of the VI-EPSCoR-sponsored Virgin Islands Microscale Weather Modeling (VIMWM) incubator project - a project that seeks to establish viable local weather forecasts for the US Virgin Islands and eventually for neighboring islands as well. UVI's computing cluster is presently being replaced with funds from a Title III grant and should be operational by the beginning of 2013. The new cluster will be used by many CSM faculty and students for high performance computing in a variety of research areas. The WRF forecast model will be installed on the cluster to generate microscale (< 1.0 km) forecasts for the Virgin Islands region.
A closely related project, VI-EPSCoR-sponsored Measuring Near-Shore Bulk Sea Temperatures, has recently completed a nearly two-year run of collecting near-shore bulk sea temperatures around St. Thomas. This data, along with far-shore bulk temperatures derived from concurrent satellite images, will be utilized to produce an algorithm which will allow the near-shore bulk sea surface temperatures to be determined more accurately from the real-time satellite data. The improved near-shore temperatures will be incorporated into the local forecast model to improve calculation of evaporation rates, which are critical to accurate forecasting.
Dr. David Morris joined the UVI Physics Department in the Fall of 2011 and serves as the Director of the Etelman Observatory. Dr. Morris comes to UVI from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center where his research focused on the study of Gamma-ray Bursts and other high-energy transients including neutron star and black hole binary systems. Dr. Morris leads the ongoing Etelman Renewal Program which has led to the reopening of the Etelman Observatory to public outreach activities using, among other instruments, the newly installed 0.5 meter Virgin Islands Robotic Telescope (VIRT). Physics faculty and students from UVI and its partner institutions are actively engaged in using the VIRT for forefront science activities as well, including a growing worldwide collaboration between UVI, the College of Charleston, and the Chinese National Observatory to perform coordinated, around-the-clock observations of scientifically important astrophysical sources.