Group Title: VI-EPSCoR Newsletter. Volume 1. Issue 3.
Title: VI-EPSCoR Newsletter. Volume 3. Issue 2.
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: VI-EPSCoR Newsletter. Volume 3. Issue 2.
Alternate Title: Virgin Islands EPSCoR
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: University of the Virgin Islands. Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
Affiliation: University of the Virgin Islands -- Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
Publisher: Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
Publication Date: 12/26/2003
Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States Virgin Islands
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300629
Volume ID: VID00007
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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May 2005
Volume 3, Issue 2
Biocomplexity of Caribbean Coral
Reefs (BCCR) Research


Conservation of Priority Bird Habitats by Dr. im Corven

What's happening to the birds in the
Virgin Islands? VI-EPSCoR
researcher Dr. Jim Corven has begun
a long-term project of monitoring birds
on the St. Thomas campus of UVI.
One of the best ways to determine
the health of our environment is to
monitor the living species over time to
see if they are doing well or having
trouble. This project has begun the
development of a system for tracking
the species and numbers of birds
found in the Virgin Islands as good
"indicators" of environmental
conditions. The project is looking at
endemic species (found here and
only here), resident species, and
migratory species that over-winter or
just pass through on their annual
migrations between South and North
Since birds breathe the same air,
drink the same water, and eat from
the same food chain as people do,
they are often considered a useful
indicator of environmental health for
Scientists have found a disturb-
ing tendency in bird populations

Program Coordinator's
Update by Meri Whitaker

The last few months have seen
some important milestones in
the first year of the VI-EPSCoR
grant. We finalized our four-
year strategic plan and
submitted it to the National
Science Foundation. We also
submitted the first VI-EPSCoR
Annual Report. We completed
our first year of NSF funding
and submitted a request for the
second year. Happily, we just
received notification that our
second year of funding has
been approved.

We look forward to holding
our first annual conference
on September 23 and 24;
and we expect to launch the
VI-EPSCoR website by the
end of summer

throughout the region indicating that
there are environmental factors
threatening the biodiversity and
human welfare. With funding from
VI-EPSCoR and additional support
from Birdlife International and Birders'
Exchange, this project has estab-
lished 24 fixed bird monitoring
stations around the UVI campus and
will soon begin installing similar
stations across St. Thomas. Called
"point count sites," these stations are
already providing new data about
what species of birds are found in
which sites and their habitat
requirements. Once data has been
collected over time, often for several
years, we can also get a good idea of
any population trends that might be
happening. This information will be
essential for making decisions about
where further development can safely
occur and which areas are vital to the
survival of our wildlife species.
During the spring semester this
year, Dr. Corven worked with under-
graduate students in the Ecology

course at UVI locating the point count
sites to cover all the habitat types found
in the area. Sites are precisely
identified with a satellite-based
Geographical Positioning System
(GPS) and marked on a map. Using
these sites, the students and Dr.
Corven took regular counts of all birds
seen and heard at every site, noting
their species, numbers, and habitat
associations. The field work will
continue on a regular basis so that any
changes occurring in the bird popula-
tions from human disturbances, habitat
destruction, or other factors can be
Another important product of this
research will be to help scientists
studying the same birds throughout the
Caribbean and the Western Hemi-
sphere to understand their biology and
conservation needs better. Preliminary
results will be shared during the Annual
Meeting of the Caribbean Society for
the Study and Conservation of Birds
scheduled for early August 2005 in

Outreach Update by Eugene Gottlieb Jr.

The VI-EPSCoR program
sponsored an NSF Outreach Day
for UVI research and teaching
faculty with Mr. John Cruickshank
of the NSF Education and Human
Resources (EHR) directorate. Mr.
Cruickshank is the senior program
and grant analyst working directly
under the Assistant Director for
the Directorate of Education and
Human Resources (EHR).
The EHR Directorate is very
supportive of Mr. Cruickshank's
outreach efforts to broaden
participation, particularly to HBCU
and minority-serving institutions
such as UVI. He provided
information about the Education
and Biological Sciences Direc-
torates in addition to other NSF-
wide funding opportunities,
emerging areas, proposal
processing, grant administration
and post-award grant manage-

Mr. Cruickshank met with faculty
one-on-one and in small groups
to discuss their research interests
and possible NSF connec-
tions. He also met with our
sponsored research office to
discuss NSF post-award grant
management and current issues
in audit/grant administration.

John Cruickshank has been at
NSF for over 18 years and has
served as a grant officer for every
directorate in the Foundation.
Over the years he has also been
intimately involved in outreach
efforts on behalf of the Found-
ation and its many offices. He
was happy to share information
not only about the Education and
Human Resources Directorate,
but also the names of contact
people, research initiatives, and
directorates with related-activities
at NSF.

May 2005
Volume 3, Issue 2

Staff Highlight:

BCCR Update by Dr. Richard Nemeth

Dr. Meri Whitaker

Joining VI-EPSCoR as
Program Coordinator is Meri
Whitaker, Ph.D. Dr. Whitaker
received her Ph.D. and M.A.
from Stanford University in
agricultural economics and
her B.S. degree from the
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. She has been
involved in research and
research management in Syria,
India, Egypt, and the U.S.
Dr. Whitaker hopes to continue
the superb work of Dr. Camille
McKayle, her predecessor,
who will return to teaching
mathematics while continuing
to support VI-EPSCoR's work.

VI-EPSCoR Govering
Frank Schulterbrandt, Esq.,
Chair of the Governing
LaVerne Ragster, PhD,
Vice-chair of the Governing
Hon. Donna Chnstensen, MD,
Member of Congress
Hon. Lorraine Berry,
President V.I. Legislature
Anna Hector, President,
St. Croix Chamber of Commerce
Hon. Noreen Michael, PhD,
Commissioner, Department
RichardNemeth, PhD,
Director, Centerfor Marine
& Environmental Studies
Hon. Dean Plaskett, Esq.,
Commissioner, Department of
Planning & Natural Resources
David Sharp, President
& CEO, Innovative Telephone
Henry H. Smith, PhD,
UVI Interim-Provost and
VI-EPSCoR Project Director
Robert Stolz, PhD,
UVIFaculty Representative,
St. Thomas
Thomas N. Taylor, PhD,
Kansas EPSCoR
President, St. Thomas/St. John
Chamber of Commerce
T.H. Lee Williams, PhD,
Oklahoma EPSCoR
Richard Moore, PhD,

Contact VI-EPSCoR at
(340) 693-1478 or by
e-mail: viepscor(,

MacLean Marine Science
The laboratory lab benches
have arrived for the three
research labs and teaching
classroom. We are scheduling
their installation this month.
Improved lighting and flooring
have also been completed in
the research and teaching
space. Three new offices and
an upgraded conference room
are slated for completion by the
end of May 2005. This will
make room for the new
research faculty.

The CZM permit for the VIERS
renovation has been accepted
and a public hearing was held
on May 4, 2005. The CZM
issued its final decision on May
20, and the permit was granted.
The construction crew is
scheduled to begin work the
first week of June.

Dr. Nasseer Idrisi has been
very active in his first few
months here at UVI. He gave
two seminars on his research,
one at the VI-EPSCoR science
seminar series (Feb. 22, 2005)
and a second for the Water
Resources Conference (Feb.
24, 2005). He also taught two
lectures and two field/lab
exercises for the Oceanog-
raphy course on April 8 and 15,
2005. He coauthored and
submitted a Sea Grant pre-
proposal, entitled "Integration
of spatial and temporal patterns
of coral reef resources in the
Virgin Islands," with Dr. Marc
Boumedine of the Division
of Science and Math and
Stevie Henry of the Eastern
Caribbean Center's Conser-
vation Data Center. Dr. Idrisi
also participated in an NSF-
CAREER workshop in Las
Vegas, NV, on March 11-12,
2005. Finally, on Feb. 26, 2005,
he led a whale watch and
snorkeling excursion and a
beach clean-up and snorkeling
excursion on St. Thomas.

Both of these excursions
were sponsored by the
Environmental Association
of St. Thomas. Currently, Dr.
Idrisi is at the University of
Miami collaborating with
RSMAS scientists on a major
grant proposal dealing with
ocean modeling.

Dr. Sandra Romano submitted
an NSF proposal entitled
"Collaborative research:
Assembling the tree of life-
An integrative approach to
investigating cnidarians
phylogeny." The goal of the
proposal, which was submitted
in March 2005, is to conduct a
systematic revision of the
phylum of animals, including
jellyfish, anemones, and corals,
based on comprehensive
molecular data. Dr. Romano
will investigate the group that
includes reef corals. The
proposal is in collaboration with
a number of colleagues at
various institutions, including
University of Kansas, University
of Ohio, and Duke University.

Prof. Roy Watlington received
word that two proposals fielded
during the fall semester have
borne fruit. The first is a small
grant from the National Institute
of Water Resources to support
the development of modules for
training researchers, students,
and others in the use of key
instruments. As a part of this
grant, the high-precision
salinometer used in the
Anegada Climate Tracers
Study (ACTS) will be repaired,
recalibrated, and returned to
use as both a research and
training tool. Funding is also
included for a nephelometer
attachment for the ACTS CTD

Notification was also received
of a pending award from the
NOAA/Coastal Services Center
through a direct grant to the
University of Puerto Rico,
Mayaguez. This award will
support the University of Puerto

Rico, Mayaguez, and the
University of the Virgin Islands
in organizing the nascent
Caribbean Regional Association
(CaRA) for an ocean-observing
system for the US-Caribbean
exclusive economic zone,
and in building its base of active
stakeholders and developing its
strategic plan. Watlington is
a member of the National
Federation of Regional Associa-
tions, which, as an organ
managed by the federal consor-
tium OceanUS, is intended to
coordinate the regional associa-

Dr. Stuart Ketcham presented a
seminar on his research, entitled
"Investigation of genetic
differentiation among populations
of the long-spined black sea
urchin in marine habitats
surrounding St. Croix," as part of
the VI-EPSCoR Seminar Series
on April 12, 2005.

Dr. Tamara Romanuk was
selected by the search committee
for the VI-EPSCoR invertebrate
biologist research assistant
faculty position. She comes with
strong credentials in food web
dynamics and energy flows of
marine systems. Dr. Romanuk
currently holds a NSERC (Natural
Sciences and Engineering
Research Council of Canada)
post-doctoral fellowship at the
University of Quebec and is
working at the Pacific Ecoinfor-
matics and Computational
Ecology Lab. Our HR department
is in the process of filing visa
application forms for her to work
in the USVI.

The new research vessel will be
going through a sea trial at the
end of May 2005 and is slated
for delivery in June 2005. The
ADCP current meters have been
deployed for three months on a
multi-species spawning
aggregation site and will be
retrieved and data downloaded
in early June 2005, following the
completion of the spawning

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