UVI opens geographic research center

Font size: [A] [A] [A]

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 anorris@dailynews.vi.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.

Best of the VI

Best of the VI: After more than 100,000 text and Facebook votes were cast, it is time to unveil the winners.

Daily News E-Edition

Try our e-newspaper delivered to you every day

Island Trader

Good stuff, best buys, great fun

Crucian Trader

Celebrating St. Croix History, Culture and People

Island Action

Your complete guide to where to go and what to do this week in the Virgin Islands.