Friday, September 10, 2021

Master of Marine and Environmental Science Program 2019 Cohort Published in a Major Scientific Journal

Eleven graduate students who entered the Master of Marine and Environmental Science (MMES) program two years ago, known collectively as the 2019 cohort, recently published their semester-long capstone project in the peer-reviewed journal, Frontiers in Marine Science. 

A link to the article is here: 

The manuscript entitled, “Diversity and Disease: The Effects of Coral Diversity on Prevalence and Impacts of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands,” documents the impacts of stony coral tissue loss, a disease heavily affecting U.S. Virgin Islands reefs. Their study is of broad interest to resource managers and scientists in the USVI and beyond; a webinar sharing their study results is available at

MMES faculty co-leader of the project, Dr. Marilyn Brandt, said, “The article documents relationships found between coral diversity and the impact of stony coral tissue loss disease. This project was student-led all the way through to publication. MMES core faculty provided advisement and oversight and fieldwork was supported by the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Marine and Environmental Studies staff. Funding support was provided by Virgin Islands EPSCoR and a National Science Foundation grant to myself and Dr. Tyler Smith.” 

While Dr. Brandt and Dr. Smith co-led the capstone project, the remaining MMES core faculty during the spring 2019 semester, Dr. Lorraine Buckley, Dr. Kristin Wilson Grimes, and Dr. Renata Platenberg, lent their expertise and dedicated a portion of their courses to learning outcomes related to the project. 

“This is an important milestone for many of our students in their scientific careers, as their first peer-reviewed published study. While all of the students contributed to this effort, Sophia Costa and Stephanie Hibberts showed exceptional leadership among their peers to see the work through to publication,” said Dr. Kristin Wilson Grimes. 

The students of the 2019 cohort who worked so diligently on the project are Sophia Costa, Stephanie Hibberts†, Danielle Olive, Kayla Budd, Alexys Long, Madyson Miller, Kelsey Vaughn, Claudia CarriĆ³n, Maksym Cohen, Annie Savage, and Matthew Souza. 

†Stephanie Hibberts was beloved by many, including her friends and colleagues at the University of the Virgin Islands. She died on July 12, 2021.