Oct. 29, 2004 – Science and government Thursday joined together at Government House as representatives of the two communities announced a four-year program that will bring millions of research dollars to the territory.
The Experimental Project to Stimulate Competitive Research is a program administered by the National Science Foundation to build the economy of states and territories through research, technology and development.
In 2002 the foundation awarded a planning grant to the University of the Virgin Islands to develop an Experimental Project to serve the territory. This year, the foundation awarded a grant of $4.5 million over four years to continue a rigorous, long-term planning process to benefit the scientific and technological development of the community.
"We have a saying in the Virgin Islands, 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating.' I think everyone will agree with that. The success of this program will be in the $4.5 million grant," Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said.
"The timing of this event is appropriate, because the United States is lagging behind in math and science. This program will improve the research needed for competitiveness in V.I. resources."
The money will be used to strengthen the V.I. infrastructure, funding the establishment of advanced degrees in marine and environmental sciences, and give younger students more exposure to research facilities. The local program will upgrade information technology facilities for tracking UVI research equipment.
The grant money will also be used to upgrade research and development facilities. UVI determined the strongest need in the Virgin Islands was in research related to biocomplexity in Caribbean coral reefs. Project leader Dr. Rick Nemeth will upgrade marine research facilities on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, and recruit a biological oceanographer and a research assistant in marine invertebrate biology.
Several incubator research projects will be funded through the project as well. Proposals for projects in aquaculture, agricultural science, energy conversion and mineral recovery are all being considered.
"We think more dollars, more experts, more business will come to the territory because of EPSCoR. If we didn't have the support of the governor, we couldn't do this," Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster, UVI president, said. According to Ragster, UVI is the smallest institution and the only historically black college to receive an EPSCoR grant.
EPSCoR focuses on states that are committed to science and engineering research, but which have historically received fewer federal research and development dollars.
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