The Vision for the Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VIEPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Project is the development of the scientific capacity in the United States Virgin Islands to support economic development by drawing upon and strengthening the Territory’s physical and human resources, through investments in capacity for integrated marine and environmental research, policy and decision-making, education, and outreach, and enhanced partnerships between researchers and policy makers, educators, and the broader community, in order to address marine and environmental issues of vital importance for a healthy and sustainable future for the Territory.

VI-EPSCoR aims to strengthen the quality and increase the volume of nationally competitive research with strong potential economic benefits for the Virgin Islands. 

The current RII focus is the project titled Mare Nostrum Caribbean – Our Caribbean Sea – (MNC). Initiated in 2014, it includes a wide variety of research and outreach efforts that are planned to continue through 2019.

     – MNC – Mare Nostrum Caribbean Funding

VI-EPSCoR’s previous research focus was the RII study titled Integrated Caribbean Coastal Ecosystems (ICCE). It ran from 2008 through 2014. VI-EPSCoR offered start-up and incubator funding to support researchers in developing new research areas related to ICCE and to enhance their national competitiveness for grant funding.

     – ICCE – Integrated Caribbean Coastal Ecosystems 

Integrated Caribbean Coastal Ecosystems (ICCE) is an integrated island ecosystem research focus which facilitates interdisciplinary studies of terrestrial, shoreline and oceanic environments, as well as the related social, health and economic impacts on island communities. Three interrelated research platforms support the ICCE research focus:

  • Evolutionary and Ecological Patterns and Processes
  • Ocean and Coastal Processes
  • Environmental Analysis and Management Environmental Analysis Lab
      

Each research platform includes a collaborative research team led by a Team Leader and is supported by shared-use facilities and technical staff. Collaborative teams include UVI researchers and external partners from other universities and territorial and federal agencies.

A major goal of the Integrated Caribbean Coastal Ecosystems (ICCE) program is to support critical linkages in the development of competitive research in the US Virgin Islands while facilitating the flow of information and products from research results to user groups and decision makers. The framework of the ICCE program encourages professional collaborations among scientists from various disciplines. For instance, recent work on the spatial and temporal dynamics and behavior of spawning groupers raised intriguing questions related to the importance of specific spawning aggregation sites to reproductive success. A basic understanding of this system has allowed ecologists to collaborate with oceanographers, larval biologists, geneticists and mathematicians to address new hypotheses regarding population connectivity and integrity of trophic food webs, develop models of larval transport and successfully compete for multi-disciplinary research grants (i.e. USGS partnership program). This data also has tremendous economic significance for local fisherman and those responsible for fisheries management in the area.

     – VI-EPSCoR – Research Projects