Looking back at his undergraduate experience, Chinaemere “Chino” Igwebuike credits UVI’s Emerging Caribbean Scientists (ECS) program with preparing him to succeed at Boston University School of Medicine, where he is a candidate in a dual-doctoral program.
“The ECS program was an indispensable part of my preparation for a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree,” says Igwebuike, who graduated from UVI with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. “The mentoring, networking and summer research opportunities offered in collaboration with other institutions provided a robust training environment.”
The ECS program provides the University’s undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) students with the scholarships, research opportunities, mentoring and academic enrichment they need to excel not only at UVI but also in national and international scientific arenas.
The program, which supports faculty and undergraduate research, is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, university donations and more. These funds are pooled together to spark synergy, collaboration and, of course, innovation.
The program’s leadership have “a vested interest in promoting excellence for STEM students at UVI,” says Igwebuike. ECS offers invaluable academic and career development resources for enterprising students.
At the core of ECS is a focus on bringing students together. Whether they are interested in marine biology, astronomy, pharmacy or medicine, they can learn and shape their careers with each other’s support, ideas and perspectives.
“There’s strength in unity,” says UVI Marine Biology professor Dr. Teresa Turner, who added that ECS gives students “a solid background, understanding and knowledge of science.”
“Having students work together is really helpful. We video conference across islands so students on both campuses can get to know each other. Students from different majors also go to scientific meetings together, travel together and then present their research,” says Dr. Turner.
The cooperative environment and innovative instruction within ECS give students a strong foundation not only to succeed academically but also to pursue post baccalaureate or doctoral study or assume leadership roles as educators or researchers in any number of STEM fields.
The collaborative focus helps to keep students connected even after they have left UVI’s campuses.
Early in 2019, Igwebuike visited the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix to discuss his path to pursuing the dual doctorates at Boston University. He also spoke at the Senior Science Research Seminar on the St. Thomas Campus. He is currently completing his Ph.D. thesis project, which uses high-throughput genetic screening to aid drug discovery and therapeutic development.
As part of the ECS program, some alumni return to UVI to teach. Alumni, such as Igwebuike, act as role models for current students. They demonstrate the power of additional education and point the way for undergraduates to hold leadership positions both nationally and internationally.