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UVI Graduate Student Earns First Place Award at Research Conference

Shruti Arora, a second year graduate student in the University of the Virgin Islands' Master of Marine and Environmental Science program, was recently awarded first place in a scientific poster competition at the 2011 Association of Marine Labs of the Caribbean conference in Costa Rica.

Arora's winning poster is based on research that is critical to increasing knowledge of how human activities on land may be impacting the health of coral reef communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her research found that microbial communities that corals of the same species host are distinctly different and less diverse on corals located far from land-based sources of pollution.

Her poster, entitled: "Diversity of bacteria associated with Montastraea spp. across a sea water quality gradient in the U.S. Virgin Islands," won the Ivan Goodbody Student Achievement Award for best student poster presentation.

"This was actually my first international conference throughout my entire academic career," Arora said. "I have done other presentations, but nothing like this."

Having earned baccalaureate and master's degrees in microbiology in India, Arora enrolled in UVI's Master of Marine and Environmental Science program to concentrate specifically on marine biology. After graduation in December 2011, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in marine biology.

The Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC) is a confederation of more than 30 marine research, education, and resource management institutions. Each year, AMLC holds a scientific meeting that is attended by researchers, resource managers and educators working in the Caribbean and western Atlantic. The 2011 meeting was held in San Juan, Costa Rica from May 23-27.

Arora's presentation at the conference is also the focus of her master's thesis and was done under the supervision of Dr. Marilyn Brandt at UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Studies and in collaboration with Dr. Pamela Morris at the University of South Carolina.

For further information about UVI's Master of Marine and Environmental Science program, please contact Dr. Brandt by e-mail at or by telephone at (340) 693-1379.