Provost Impressed by Student Research

Nathalie Trow-McDonald |

The 18th Annual Fall Student Research Symposium sponsored by the Emerging Scientist Program was held yesterday afternoon in the Sports and Fitness Center of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) St. Thomas Campus.

Sixty posters and their proud owners stood in a circle around the basketball court as judges and curious community members mosied from one well-dressed student to another in hopes of learning something new.

“This is my favorite event all year,” commented Dr. Camille McKayle, UVI Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs with enthusiasm. “It has everything we want in it: inquisitive students, engaged faculty, and students exposed to cutting-edge technology… I am always impressed by the students when I come.”

Incorporated in the symposium was a competition for the participants. Students who receive the highest scores from the judges will be awarded travel funds that cover registration, transportation, and housing to attend a scientific meeting to present their research.

Symposium winners typically attend the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics held annual in Washington D.C., but winners are allowed to choose the conference they are most interested in attending.

There were 31 undercover judges with at least three visiting each poster. Participants were scored on on their presentation, content, visual material, and ability to answer questions.

Typically ten posters are selected as winners, but the number can vary depending on the amount of funding donated by the National Science Foundation each year.

Winners will be announced on the official UVI website by the end of the week.

The Symposium showcased research done by UVI students at both the undergraduate and graduate level and conducted on both UVI campuses or through partnerships with other off-island institutions. Students from the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix were flown to St. Thomas for the day in order to present.

“The symposium is a very good opportunity because it gives [students] research experience as well as practical skills that will help us in our future careers in science,” said Calwyn Morton, UVI student in his third year of studying biology and participant in the ECS Summer Research Program in collaboration with the Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR) program.

Disciplines of research varied from astrophysics to education to technology. The most well represented fields in the symposium included biology, marine biology, and chemistry although there has been a rise in engineering and physical science submissions in the last several years.

Funding for the students’ projects are provided by federal student training grants and private donations.

The annual symposium is organized by the Emerging Caribbean Scientists Program (ECS) in collaboration with the UVI College of Science and Mathematics.

Sponsors of this free event included: the National Institutes of Health,Maximizing Access to Research (MARC) Program; National Institutes of Health, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program; and the National Science Foundation, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP).

The ECS Program offers scholarships, summer programs, research experiences, mentoring, and supplemental instruction to UVI students majoring in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, psychology, and nursing.

This symposium follows the Summer Student Research Symposium held on the UVI St. Thomas Campus in July that showcased summer research conducted locally. The Fall Symposium allowed UVI students who conducted summer research at other institutions to present their findings to the community.

For those who missed the event yesterday, the 14th Annual Spring Student Research Symposium is typically held in March on the UVI Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.

For more information, please contact Aimee Sanchez by emailing aimee.sanchez@uvi.edu or calling 340-693-1249.

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