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UVI Students Take Top Honors at National Biomedical Research Conference

Annual Biomedical Medical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) Award Winners

INDIANAPOLIS — Three students from the University of the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean’s preeminent Historically Black College and University (HBCU) captured Best Poster Awards at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) last week in Indiana.

This recognition comes on the heels of five University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) students winning the 2nd Annual Hewlett Packard HBCU Business Challenge competition this month.

Samuel Liburd, a senior biology major, was recognized for the poster he presented in developmental biology and genetics, which featured work he did using Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (Crispr-Cas9 to eleaborate) gene techniques to understand regeneration in planarians. He did this research at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) this summer under the guidance and mentorship of Malecek, Ph.D. and Peter Reddien. Samuel is mentored at UVI by Jennilee Robinson.

Sophomore Arziel Williams, a psychology major from the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, won best poster in the social sciences for his research on depression and obesity in Virgin Islanders. He was assisted by his research mentor Janis Valmond.

Anthony Jolly, a biology major sophomore on the St. Thomas Campus, won best poster in the chemical sciences for research that he did this summer on the Sheen campus under the guidance of Bernard Castillo on the concentration of phenolic compounds in herbs.

“These winners encompass the breadth of what UVI is trying to do with its programs, and with its efforts to involve more students in research.  We are proud of them, and proud of all students that presented,” said Dr. Camille McKayle, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Students from 700 universities presented 2,100 posters. While more than one best poster award was awarded in each category, UVI’s performance was notable given its size relative to other higher education institutions in attendance.

“We should be proud of the hard work of our students, their mentors and the faculty to achieve such outstanding results,” said Teresa Turner, professor of Marine Biology in the College of Science and Mathematics.

ABRCMS brings together students from across the nation, who are studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and are doing research.

UVI sent 17 students from both campuses to the meeting. They represented the University in mathematics, psychology, biology and chemistry.

Students, faculty, and staff at UVI are actively involved in research in a variety of areas, including education, economics, the sciences and environmental studies, and the University’s new strategic plan includes a commitment to research productivity.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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