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UVI Spring Student Research Symposium on St. Croix Set March 22

Photo from UVI Spring Symposium held in 2013

Members of the UVI community and the general public are invited to the University’s 12th Annual Spring Student Research Symposium. A showcase of student research conducted with faculty locally and at other institutions, the symposium takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. at UVI’s Great Hall on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

This year, some thirty undergraduate students will display poster presentations outlining the results of their research efforts. UVI students on both campuses conduct research during the summer and the academic year.

Photo: During the 2013 edition of UVI’s Spring Student Research Symposium, applied mathematics major Clyde Joseph explains the poster used to describe research into the topic “Development of Water Quality Labs for General Chemistry at UVI.”  Joseph and his research partner Micadel Hazell, another applied mathematics major, conducted their research at UVI under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Justin Shorb.

“The symposium provides family, friends and the general public a great opportunity to see the wide range of subjects that our students have been studying and the kind of work they do,” said Dr. Sandra Romano, interim dean of UVI’s College of Science and Mathematics. “It’s also a great opportunity for them to hone their presentation skills and to communicate science to the public.”

The research symposium also helps UVI students prepare for larger national and international meetings, according to Dr. Romano. “They are like dress rehearsals that allow students to talk about their research in a supportive atmosphere. They like to have their family and friends really concentrate on their work. It’s something they really look forward to.”

UVI’s student researchers have pursued a wide range of subjects, as shown by this list of titles outlining a few of the more than 30 research presentations expected at the symposium.

  • Correlation Between Human Dimensions and Impaired Water Quality for St. Croix, Virgin Islands
  • The Search of Extra-Solar Planets Using the Etelman VI Robotic Telescope
  • Comparison of Nutrient Content in Salt River Bay and Bioluminescent Mangrove Lagoon, St.Croix
  • Screening of Ciguatera Toxins Found in the Invasive Indo-Pacific Lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the United States and British Virgin Islands
  • Sorrel Hybrids: Fruit Size Evaluation

“The symposium gives students the opportunity to show off and explain the hands-on research that they are involved with,” said Dr. Tomas Zimmerman, assistant director of UVI’s Agricultural Experiment Station. He has supported the annual symposium on St. Croix since its inception and is mentoring five students this year.

Dr. Zimmerman’s student researchers are pursuing majors ranging from education to business, and computer science to criminal justice. “My students get hands-on, hands-dirty research out in the field,” he said. “The process students learn in conducting scientific research can be applied to other systems and to their majors, such as marketing and production for business majors.”

Last summer, many on-campus student research projects included the opportunity to work with a research group led by Dr. Paul Sikkel from Arkansas State University visiting UVI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Science on St. Thomas. In addition to these projects, several students traveled to a variety of U.S. institutions to pursue their projects. These included visits to Marshall University in West Virginia, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Several alumni who completed UVI’s 3-2 Engineering Program will be among the judges reviewing the student presentations, according to Symposium Coordinator Dr. Velma Tyson, who teaches mathematics on St. Croix. She said the symposium “provides an excellent experience and source of motivation for local students to see real scientific research at a high quality, and to talk one-to-one with student researchers who win national awards for their research presentations.” She encouraged members of the public to “join in the celebration of the progress and excellence of our youths.”

The symposium is produced by UVI’s Emerging Caribbean Scientists (ECS) Program and the College of Science and Mathematics. The mission of the ECS Program is to increase research training and promote excellence for students majoring in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, psychology and nursing at UVI. The program provides opportunities for student research through funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and private donors.

For more information about ECS, visit the program’s website at  For details about the symposium, contact Dr. Velma Tyson on St. Croix at (340) 692-4157 or via e-mail at or Aimee Sanchez on St. Thomas at (340) 693-1249 or via e-mail at