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Nicolas Drayton Hired as VI EPSCoR Program Coordinator

Nicolas Drayton, one of the key players in the establishment of the East End Marine Park on St. Croix, has joined the University of the Virgin Islands as a program coordinator for VI EPSCoR. 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. As program coordinator Drayton will facilitate VI EPSCoR incubator grants for start-up research, from assisting with the selection of proposals through the tracking of funds. He will also work closely on the major VI EPSCoR initiative of strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics in kindergarten through 12th grade in the territory through collaborations with the Virgin Islands Education Department and UVI's departments of Education and Science and Mathematics. Drayton will also produce the quarterly VI EPSCoR newsletter.

Drayton said he looks forward to the opportunity to put his energies into some of the fundamental issues like the promotion of science in the community and encouraging young people to choose marine science as a viable career option. "I got real excited about the possibilities," he said.

Drayton holds a Master of Science degree in coastal biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Over his career he has been involved in a wide range of marine conservation-related roles, including training, advocacy, planning, management and administration of Caribbean marine parks and protected areas. Before joining UVI, he was the Ocean Conservancy's Caribbean Ecosystems program director where his main duty was to "promote best management practices for coral reefs and marine parks and protected areas.

VI EPSCoR is funded by a five-year $11.5 million Research Infrastructure Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation. 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.

Nicolas Drayton may be reached at 693-1239 or