The results of research conducted by 26 top science and mathematics students at the University of the Virgin Islands – representing both the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses – will be showcased to the St. Croix community at the Eighth Annual Spring Research Symposium scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 27, in the Cafetorium on the University’s St. Croix campus.
The Symposium is sponsored by the Emerging Caribbean Scientists (ECS) program of UVI’s College of Science and Mathematics. This program prepares students to be nationally competitive in the STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Psychology – fields. ECS scholars are required to engage in research with a mentor throughout the academic year and the summer.
UVI Mathematics Professor Dr. Velma Tyson, who is the ECS program coordinator for the St. Croix campus, said the University uses the annual Symposium as a key part of its outreach efforts to younger students on St. Croix. According to Dr. Tyson, the event is designed to give St. Croix students the same opportunities that those on St. Thomas have had for some time.
“We usually have a good attendance from the high schools,” she said, noting that she annually contacts science teachers, urging them to have their students attend the symposium. “Several teachers give assignments to their classes and they have to interact with our students. This gives the high school students good exposure to real scientific research at a different level than they normally see,” Dr. Tyson said. “It’s a wonderful experience for the high school students and provides good exposure for our UVI students. When they (high school students) realize that our students can win national awards – that speaks a mouthful.”
For UVI’s ECS students, the Spring Research Symposium provides an opportunity to present their research to the entire community. This academic year ECS scholars won awards for their research when competing against top students from hundreds of universities at such national conferences as Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Their topics include number theory, cistern water quality, mate selection, ovarian cancer, and the risk factors of adoption in shelter puppies and kittens.
Students Conduct Research at Top Schools
Several of the students conducted their research during UVI's on-campus Sophomore Science Research Institute and the Science Undergraduate Research Experience programs. Other institutions where UVI students conducted research include the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Rutgers University, Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Maryland, the University of Iowa, San Francisco State University, Mount Desert Island Biological Lab, Boston University and the University of South Carolina Medical School. The quality of these students is so highly regarded that it is not unusual for them to be selected for Ph.D. programs upon the completion of their undergraduate programs of study at UVI.
During Saturday's symposium, student presenters will be judged on their visual material, content, presentation and ability to answer questions. A diversified combination of professionals including high school science and mathematics teachers, research scientists, engineers and UVI faculty have been invited to serve as judges. The symposium and ECS Programs are made possible largely through grant awards that are directed by Drs. Robert Stolz, Camille McKayle and Teresa Turner.
UVI Tutoring Facilities Open House
An open house featuring the Mathematics and Science Enrichment Center – UVI’s tutoring facilities on the St. Croix campus – will follow the Symposium. The open house, which runs from 3 to 5 p.m., will offer information about the various majors and special programs offered within UVI’s College of Science and Mathematics (formerly the Division of Science and Mathematics). Demonstration projects by various faculty members will be featured. There will also be access to information about UVI’s Math Behind the Science Summer Bridge Program. This bridge program is designed to enhance the mathematics preparedness of college-bound students who are interested in pursuing careers in science, mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine. Specifically, it will prepare students to enter the introductory calculus course and provide a foundation for success in that important course. This program will be held on St. Thomas. Student participants from St. Croix will be housed on the St. Thomas campus.
Dr. Tyson strongly urges teachers and parents to encourage students, particularly at the junior high and high school levels, to take advantage of the opportunity to experience this academically stimulating event. UVI Saturday Academy students as well as members of the UVI Math Boosters club will be in attendance. Abstract booklets will be available for attendees.
For more information, contact Dr. Velma Tyson on the St. Croix campus, at (340) 692-4157 or visit the ECS website at http://ecs.uvi.edu.