Ocean and Coastal Observing Virgin Islands, Inc. (OCOVI) has announced that three students from the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) have been awarded funding to help support their marine sciences research and study.  

The recipients of the 2022 Vembu Subramanian Awards, Zachary Briggs, Dishon Heyliger, and Andrew McGregor, were selected based on the strengths of proposals they submitted related to the mission and work of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and the Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System (CARICOOS)/OCOVI.  

“It is tremendously gratifying for our students to be recognized and rewarded by OCOVI for their interest in and commitment to studying and protecting our marine resources,” said Dr. Paul Jobsis, director of UVI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Studies. 

McGregor, a graduate student in UVI’s Master of Marine and Environmental Science Program, is passionate about tropical marine environments and their inhabitants, especially sea turtles. His research focuses on using fine-scale positioning acoustic telemetry and environmental monitoring to determine patterns of territorial behaviors and habitat space use in hawksbill sea turtles in a small Caribbean bay. As part of his award, McGregor, who is from Minnesota, will be working to make sure animal telemetry data collected in the U.S. Virgin Islands are included in the U.S. IOOS Animal Tracking Network (ATN) Data Center.  

Heyliger, a native of St. Kitts and Nevis, is majoring in Marine Biology and minoring in Data Science. He has worked for the St. Kitts and Nevis Department of Marine Resources, gaining experience in data collection and management, hydrographic surveying, coral reef surveys, and fisheries management. His career goals include developing marine monitoring systems in his country and within his region of the Caribbean. Heyliger helped OCOVI with Glider operations in Spring of 2022 and recently completed a one-week Glider workshop at Rutgers University.  

Hailing from Gulf Shores, Alabama, Briggs is an undergraduate student majoring in Marine Biology. He enrolled at UVI following a tour in the U.S. Army. His love of the ocean and interest in deep-sea exploration prompted him to volunteer to help OCOVI with Glider operations in Spring of 2022. Having completed a one-week Glider workshop at Rutgers University, Briggs will use the knowledge and experience gained to continue to support OCOVI and UVI Glider and other ocean observing activities. 

The goal of the Vembu Subramanian Award is to advance the IOOS priorities - coastal preparedness, response, recovery, and resiliency; advancing coastal intelligence; and place-based conservation in the spirit of Vembu Subramanian’s devotion to humanity, appreciation of nature and love of science. The awards are administered by CARICOOS and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) program office for the IOOS.  

OCOVI initiates and facilitates activities in the U.S. Virgin Islands region that monitor, manage, protect, sustainably utilize and foster appreciation of the region’s marine and coastal environments and resources by providing data, information, products, services and advisement. OCOVI assists CARICOOS in advancing the goals of the U.S. IOOS. 

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