August 2017

Issue Home >>


“I want to acknowledge the outstanding work of Professor Rhoda Reddock who as Deputy Principal has created the platform that I will build on.”

On August 1, 2017, Professor Indar Ramnarine took up the position of Deputy Principal of The UWI St. Augustine Campus, the post recently vacated by Professor Rhoda Reddock who shaped a framework and agenda focused on the student for the past eight years. Ramnarine says he is grateful for Reddock’s contribution and happy to continue with her initiatives. He brings his own impressive career as a scientist and the first Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) when it was separated (in 2012) out of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture.

In the five years as Dean, he effectively led the major revision of the curriculum in the Faculty. Old, unattractive and irrelevant programmes were discontinued; Science offerings were strengthened and expanded, with several special degrees, majors and minors introduced, some with collaboration with the Faculties of Medical Sciences, Engineering and Social Sciences.

New programmes in technology were introduced such as Information Technology, Biomedical Technology, Biotechnology, Computer Science & Technology, Renewable Energy Technology, Biomedical Physics, Environmental Science & Sustainable Technology, Electronics and Data Science. These new programmes were aggressively promoted.

Today, enrolment in the Faculty of Science and Technology is the second highest at the UWI St. Augustine, with approximately 3,000 students.

His greatest influence however may be from his substantive knowledge base in fisheries management and aquaculture, reaching local and global audiences. From lecturer in zoology in the Department of Life Sciences, Ramnarine progressed to senior lecturer; and subject leader in zoology, environmental science and marine biology; to professor of fisheries and Aquaculture.

His research in aquaculture has focused on several species such as the cascadu, river conch, shrimp, Malaysian prawn and tilapia, and he is considered to be a world authority on the cascadu. He has done voluntary work in Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand and Bangladesh.

He introduced aquaponics to Trinidad several years ago and has conducted several very successful workshops in aquaponics. His research work in fisheries has focused on the development of sustainable fishing methods. He also works on evolutionary biology (using the guppy as a model species) and collaborates with several researchers from Canada, the USA, Australia, the UK and Europe. His research has yielded one book, a monograph, a book chapter, 82 publications in refereed journals, 18 refereed conference proceedings, 13 refereed abstracts, 18 workshop papers and 10 technical reports.

As Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture (2006-2012) and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, he was responsible for student matters. He has also enjoyed supervisory and mentoring roles with several Master’s and PhD students.

Ramnarine has progressed through the ranks at UWI, from student (1980) to teaching assistant, research assistant, assistant lecturer, lecturer, senior lecturer, professor, subject leader, deputy dean to dean and now, deputy principal. The years, it seems, have sped by while he was busy and enjoying what he was doing. He married Ria Batchasingh and achieved his PhD in the same year. They have two children, Nikhil, a year 5 medical student, and Aryaa, who is hoping to start medical school soon.

His life, it seems, has grown organically and blossomed from the childhood in Carapichaima, fascinated by cascadu and trying to make a business from breeding ornamental fish, most of which he gave away. Though he was the fourth child in a family with seven children, he has always had a sense of security in his own ability, enhanced by an international education. He encourages students to welcome overseas opportunities, either for further degrees or to at least participate in international conferences.

Now, he welcomes this shift in his focus. The students, he believes, are the ones in whom the legacy of The UWI, and his own scientific approach and framework, must be invested in. His vision in the new role, deputy principal, will focus on that legacy. Simply stated, as a parent might, he wishes “to ensure that students are well taken care of; that they have good experiences and are proud to say they are alumni of The UWI.”

He wishes this for every single student.

It is a deceptively simple vision to be fleshed out as he now assumes the role. He intends to pay attention to reduce the attrition rate; to improve retention and throughput; and to introduce an early warning system so that students at risk are identified and cared for.

Without doubt, Ramnarine will bring his scientific approach to ensuring the academic and social requirements are met, across the board and equitably. In this way, he expects to expand the initiatives put in place by his predecessor, Professor Reddock.

Education and service are the twin pillars of Ramnarine’s personal philosophy. He believes, with Nelson Mandela, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and with Mahatma Gandhi, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

“I would like to congratulate my successor, Dr. Brian Cockburn, as the new Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, and wish him all the best.”

Pat Ganase is a writer and editor with experience in newspapers, publishing and corporate social responsibility.