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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesUVI Pushes Local Research at First Annual Research Day

UVI Pushes Local Research at First Annual Research Day

Professors at UVI’s St. Croix campus stressed the importance of local experimentation at the first annual faculty research day on Saturday. A similar event was held the same day on the St. Thomas campus.

“This might be our first research day here at UVI, but as you know, research is not a new happening here,” said Dr. Henry Smith, the vice-provost for research and public service, during his welcoming remarks.

Since UVI received land grant status 40 years ago, the university has had a tradition of exploring local topics. Smith pointed out that one of the first research projects sponsored by the university was an examination of the effects of the collapse of the sugar industry on St. Croix. He encouraged the professors present to once again aid the island in similar fashion.

“I would say this is timely,” he said. “UVI should be working more on examining the impact of the closure of the Hovensa refinery on the Virgin Island economy.”

Most of the research presented Saturday dealt with the natural world rather than economics, however. Professors examined the lionfish invasion, the effect of soil runoff on reefs, and conducted several studies on local livestock. One experiment evaluated the sweating rate of Senepol cattle, complete with infrared photography.

Dr. Robert Godfrey, the director of the agriculture experiment station, said these types of studies were important because the islands need to make the most of what they have.

“Because we’re on an island, we have very limited resources here,” he said. “Once you hit the beach, boom, it’s done.”

He says that his department has shifted its focus to studying system-wide agriculture and sustainability issues.

“The best shepherds of the land are animal producers and crop farmers,” he said, adding that their livelihood was directly connected to the health of the environment.

Godfrey went on to say that the advances in agriculture and aquaculture made by UVI researchers have made an impact, not just locally, but around the world.

Deborah Cestaro-Seifer, a member of the research day committee, wishes the public was more aware of the research being done by the university, and she lamented the poor public turnout at the event.

“We were hoping for more of the public to show because I know the public knows a lot. I was hoping that their discussion would give us new ideas and opportunities to collaborate with our farmers and with the folks who have lived here a very long time,” she said.

Cestaro-Seifer has seen the benefit of public input in her own research. A professor in the school of nursing, she is part of a research group examining the medicinal properties of local bush teas. She said she once mentioned her research to a local cab driver and the driver drove all the way back to his house to pick an herb for her to use in the project.

“That’s how excited he was, because he knew something about this and he wanted to help,” she said. “We learn so much working together. It’s really better when we collaborate with the people who live here, because they know the island better than we do.”

The faculty research day was presented as part of the university’s Golden Jubilee Celebration. Cestaro-Seifer said that the university was planning to make the faculty research day an annual event, and that in the future it may be combined with the student research day earlier in the spring.

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