UVI opens geographic research center
Published: January 31, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The University of the Virgin Islands unveiled a state-of-the-art research center for geographic and spatial data Wednesday.
A $500,000 renovation of the annex that housed the business offices was funded by the Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and the National Science Foundation.
The building now houses the Geocomputational Analysis and Statistics Institute, a new lab for the Center for Marine and Environmental Studies and offices for the Green Technology Center.
It was clear from the remarks of university officials during the opening ceremony that the renovation was designed to promote a synergy among researchers in the three domains of green technology, geography and marine science and to boost the profile of the university in those areas.
"What the center and this institute will do will demonstrate that we can attract some of the most outstanding faculty members who can teach our outstanding students in some of the cutting-edge research that is going on throughout the world," University President David Hall said.
Hall also said that the Green Technology Center and the Geocomputational Analysis and Statistics Institute would be resources the local government could use to address the territory's economic and environmental crises.
"The critical issue facing the Virgin Islands is issues of energy and our energy consumption," Hall said. "If through our center for green technology, working with the Legislature, working with the governor and others, we can begin to find viable answers to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, then we will have stimulated this economy in ways that none of us can imagine.
"The geospatial institute will have an impact as well on the economy because business leaders need to have valuable, reliable, informative analysis in order to make decisions, and the government needs that as well," Hall said.
The geocomputational lab is a small classroom, designed for about 18 students, but adjacent to it are printers and scanners capable of turning satellite data into sophisticated maps.
As well as providing new learning opportunities for students, the center will supply local and federal government agencies with data they need to update and create emergency response systems, disaster mitigation plans and watershed management plans. The data will aid local government planners in the creation of the street naming system and the maintenance of the sex offender registry, according to UVI professor Costas Alexandridis.
During the ceremony, Pedro Nieves, a graduate student in the Center for Marine Environmental Studies, demonstrated the usefulness of the new computational lab by giving a powerpoint presentation on hydrological systems and watersheds on St. Thomas.
- Contact reporter Amanda Norris at 714-9104 or email email@example.com.