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VI-EPSCoR Annual Conference to Introduce Project to Save Coral Reefs

EPSCoR conference logo

The Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR) will host its annual conference on May 26 and 27, at the Renaissance Carambola Beach Resort on St. Croix.  The title and theme of the conference is “Mare Nostrum Caribbean (Our Caribbean Sea) – Programs and Partnerships.” The conference is free and open to the public.

EPSCoR’s 2015 conference will introduce various components of the “Mare Nostrum Caribbean” project, a five-year, $20 million project, whose goal is to leverage the location of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the University of the Virgin Islands’ research capacity, to study the issues and propose responses to issues affecting Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. This project implements coral reef science in service to ecological stewardship and works to find the best ways to improve coral reef sustainability in a region threatened by overfishing, marine and terrestrial pollution, sedimentation, invasive species, and climate change. Sessions at the conference will focus on areas of major interest to the Mare Nostrum Caribbean project including, coral reef research, emerging research, workforce development, cyber infrastructure, outreach and education, and citizen science. The project is led by VI-EPSCoR, at UVI and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“This conference will expose participants to the high caliber and diversity of marine and terrestrial research being done right here in the U.S. Virgin Islands by UVI faculty and students alike,” said Nicolas Drayton, VI-EPSCoR assistant director. “The conference will also provide some insights into ways in which individuals and community-based groups will be able to get involved in the ongoing programs.”

Presenters at the conference will highlight existing partnerships and explore opportunities for new ones. The conference begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26, and continues with welcome remarks and sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27.  Optional field trips include a nesting sea turtle watch at Sandy Point at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27, and a visit to the Salt River Marine Research and Education Center project on Thursday, May 28.

NSF EPSCoR Program Director Sean Kennan, VI Gov. Kenneth Mapp, UVI President David Hall and UVI Provost Camille McKalye are expected to give opening remarks. Keynote presentations will be given by Dr. Rick Nemeth, UVI research professor of Zoology/Marine Biology, on the Brewer’s Bay Project Marine Science Research and by Dr. Sandra Roman, interim dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, and Karissa Poszywak, VI Department of Education STEM director, on workforce development. Topics to be discussed at the conference include, conservation of fisheries, parasite ecology, workforce development, the oceanography of Biolum Bay and lionfish.

VI-EPSCoR, is funded by the National Science Foundation. It is committed to fostering partnerships in research, academia, and the public and private sectors in the Virgin Islands, to build a more science-capable and research-competitive territory.

For more information contact Nick Drayton at ndrayton@uvi.edu.