Jan. 19, 2004 – The National Science Foundation has awarded the U.S. Virgin Islands a grant that will amount to $4.5 million over the next four years.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is the smallest jurisdiction to have ever received such an award and the University of the Virgin Islands is the only Historically Black University ever awarded. In addition, the grant was awarded without major revisions being made to the original proposal, according to a release.
The grant will support activities of a program based at UVI, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR), that is designed to expand and enhance the research capability of scientists to compete more successfully for a portion of the nation's federal academic research and development budget. That budget amounts to about $17 billion, and the EPSCor program is aimed particularly toward states or territories that have previously been awarded small amounts – as small as 7/10 of a percent of the that budget.
The proposal that secured the EPSCoR grant was developed at UVI with continuous input from representatives from all sectors in the Virgin Islands community.
The EPSCoR grant supports development of the university's capacity to conduct research on Caribbean coral reefs, which is of immediate significance to the territory's economic development. Additionally, among other activities, the grant will also provide for the development of materials for enriching elementary, secondary and undergraduate science and mathematics education in the territory.
"This grant will assist the U.S. Virgin Islands in adding value to its existing science and technology capability and help to move the territory away from sole dependence on a fragile tourist economy by attracting economic activity based on science and technology, said Dr. Henry H. Smith, UVI's vice provost for research and public service, and project director for the grant.
UVI first became an EPSCoR site in 2002, with planning grant activities already under way in September 2002. Following implementation grants are on a three-year basis, with reapplying required. For more details of the program, see the earlier article, EPSCoR grants widen reach of UVI research.
Although projects nationally range from dreams of outer space to management of wetlands, in line with the special interests of the V.I. community there will be an emphasis on coral reef research and on supplying science materials for all levels of education.
Through the EPSCoR program, the National Science Foundation aims to partner with the U.S. Virgin Islands to effect lasting improvements in the territory's research infrastructure and the U.S. Virgin Islands' ability to participate in nationally supported research activities.

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