News Releases

Climate Scientists, Marijuana Decriminalisation Advisor, Cocoa Centre Among Vice-Chancellorís Award

For Release Upon Receipt - October 29, 2018


The University of the West Indies celebrates outstanding service at The UWI Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence 2017/2018, which recognises service both within and outside of the university. This year, The UWI will award eight recipients for work in areas including education, research, public service and collaboration. The prestigious Awards date back to more than 20 years of tradition at The UWI. Rotated annually, this year’s ceremony will be held on Monday, October 29, 2018 at the Mona Campus’ Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre in Jamaica.  The 2017/2018 awardees are:

Teaching:  Dr. Helen Trotman-Edwards, Department of Child and Adolescent Health,Mona Campus  

Research: Dr. Srinivasa Popuri, Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Cave Hill Campus 

Research: Professor John Ayotunde (Tunde) Isola Bewaji, Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy, Mona Campus 

Public Service: Professor Wendel Abel, Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, Mona Campus 

Service to the University Community and Public Service: Professor Ian Boxill, Centre for Tourism and Policy Research, Mona Campus 

International Collaboration: Globalisation Award:  Regional Climate Science Initiative (RCSI) Project, Climate Studies Group, Department of Physics, Mona Campus 

International Collaboration – Globalisation Award: International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre (IFCIC) Project, Cocoa Research Centre, St. Augustine Campus

Multi-Campus Research Collaboration – One UWI Award: Global to Local Caribbean Socio-Economic Climate Change (Adaptation and Mitigation Scenarios) (GoLoCarSce) Project, Department of Life Sciences, St. Augustine Campus

Dr. Helen Trotman-Edwards

Dr. Helen Trotman-Edwards has over the years garnered great acclaim as an educator through her commitment to innovation in teaching and learning, and her dedication to the development of her students. She is currently a Senior Lecturer, the Deputy Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The UWI Mona Campus and the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) Programme Director. In 2016, in recognition of the lasting impact she has made in education in the medical sciences, she was awarded the UWI/Guardian Life Premium Teaching Award.

Apart from her teaching activities on campus for which she has received consistently outstanding evaluations, Dr. Trotman-Edwards has also played a significant role in educating health care professionals. She was intimately involved in the organisation of the Annual Perinatal Audit and Symposium at The UWI for over a decade, and has worked with the Jamaican Ministry of Health, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and other bodies in the development and implementation of educational tools and activities.

As a course coordinator, Dr. Trotman-Edwards has brought considerable innovation to teaching and learning. She revamped the Child Health component of the “Aspects of Family Medicine” course through new pedagogical methodologies and the use of technology. As a Lecturer in Child Health she was part of the team that developed the Neonatology module of the MBBS study guide, and created the Neonatology syllabus for the postgraduate paediatric programme.

A distinguished mentor, Dr. Trotman-Edwards has supervised 25 Doctor of Medicine (DM) students’ research projects, resulting in 21 publications in peer reviewed journals. As one of the initial DM graduates to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship, she has encouraged several paediatric residents to successfully do the same in various sub-specialties.

A believer in lifelong learning, Dr. Trotman-Edwards continues to increase her knowledge and skill. In 2017, she completed her MSc in Bioethics and is currently pursuing her PhD in Public Health. She has also developed an online programme to teach medical students basic concepts of research ethics, which she plans to pilot in the near future.

Dr. Srinivasa Popuri

Dr. Srinivasa Popuri, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences in the Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI Cave Hill, is a well-recognised researcher. He has been a prolific producer of impactful findings in critical areas such as renewable energy, waste treatment, sustainable technology and green industries, among others.

Dr. Popuri’s work on “Developments of green/biodegradable polymers for antibacterial, water treatment and energy applications” has received much international attention, leading to conference presentations in Brazil, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia and several other countries; invitations to speak at universities and even the Environmental Protection Agency of Taiwan; and publication in three reputed scientific journals. This impressive research has also shown potential for medical, tissue engineering and drug delivery applications.

His findings on sargassum seaweed extracts for the development of cosmetic products received regional and international attention as well, and in 2015 he was given The World Academy of Science – Caribbean Academy of Science (TWAS – CAS) Young Scientist Award and the Principal’s Award for Outstanding Research Accomplishments.

Dr. Popuri has had 48 articles published in reputable publications, authored one book and given 47 conference presentations. He has received over 1,500 citations for articles from researchers all across the world, and had his research recognised in the top ten cited articles of 2008 to 2010 and the top 25 articles of 2008.

In his role as mentor, Dr. Popuri has supervised two MSc and two PhD students. Combined with his long list of publications, citations, conferences, invited lectures, awards and visits to academic institutions in other countries, he has been an industrious, high-achieving researcher in his five years at The UWI Cave Hill Campus.  

Professor John Ayotunde (Tunde) Isola Bewaji

In the last five years, Professor John Bewaji’s scholarly output has been phenomenal. The first Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy at The UWI Mona’s Faculty of Humanities and Education, his record of research and publication from 2013 to 2018 is outstanding.

Professor Bewaji has written three books, four book chapters, four encyclopedia entries, a journal article, and co-edited another three books within a five-year period. His areas of focus include philosophy of law, aesthetics, critical thinking and logic, ethics, and philosophy of religion. Apart from his publication record, Professor Bewaji has hosted major conferences and symposia in Jamaica and Nigeria, and presented numerous keynotes and plenaries at conferences in the Caribbean and internationally.

Professor Bewaji is a professorial evaluator for universities around the world, assessing academics seeking elevation and tenure in institutions in the United States, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa.

A recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Research Fellowship in Philosophy of Culture, Caribbean Exchange Scholarship, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)/Carnegie Visiting Professor to University of Ibadan, Nigeria and appointed to the Jay Newman Endowed Chair in Philosophy of Culture at Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY), he has also benefited from two Principal’s New Initiative Research Awards from The UWI. He has supervised three PhD students, including the first PhD and the first MA in Philosophy with distinction at The UWI.

Professor Bewaji is a member of Steering Committee of the World Health Organisation (WHO)/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Global Summit on Bioethics, the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Fellow of Jamaican Institute of Management and Chairman of the National Bioethics Committee of Jamaica.

Professor Wendel Abel

Professor Wendel Abel has accomplished 25 years of arduous work in the area of mental health in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Social justice and health equity has been the central focus of his work. He is Professor of Mental Health Policy and Head of the Department of Community Health and Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The UWI Mona Campus, but his work takes him far beyond the campus grounds.

Professor Abel has been a policy advisor and advocate for mental health in Jamaica and the Caribbean for many years. As a former Chairman of the Advisory Council on Disability, he played a critical role in shaping the public policy for persons living with disability including mental disability.

He has worked with agencies such as the Organisation of American States (OAS), Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the European Union (EU) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and this has facilitated several policy and programme initiatives such as integration of mental health into primary health care, the reintegration of deportees, drug and violence prevention and treatment, and marijuana policy reform. In 2016, he was awarded a grant of approximately JA$100 million for the Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal and Child Health under the EU-funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC).

As Chairman for the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) from 2012 to 2016, Professor Abel was instrumental in developing robust prevention, treatment, training and research programmes in alcohol and substance abuse. He was able to secure over JA$30 million for marijuana research which included the conduct of the most successful and comprehensive household survey on substance abuse. He played a critical role in the decriminalisation of marijuana, as he felt that drug policy reform was important to the promotion of social justice.

In recognition of his work in drug policy reform, Professor Abel was made Co-Chair of the CARICOM Commission for the Decriminalisation of Marijuana.

The development of community-based service for the mentally ill has been one of his signature contributions. In 2000, the Professor started a network of community residential facilities, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, as well as Ferdies House, a day programme for the mentally ill. 

His public service over the years has extended to organisations such as Foundation For International Self-Help (FISH), the Mustard Seed Community and Food for the Poor. He has worked closely with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Child Protection and Family Services, Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Justice and a number of other projects. He is a contributor to several professional and scholarly associations.

He was awarded the Order of Distinction in 2007 and he has been the recipient of numerous awards by the Psychiatric Association of Jamaica, PAHO and the Jamaican Government and various non-government organisations for his work in mental health and social justice.

His guiding principle is: “Service to Country is the Greatest Honour.”

Professor Ian Boxill

Professor Ian Boxill, Deputy Principal of the Mona Campus, has made an important contribution to community transformation and empowerment. In his role as Director of the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research (CTPR), he has created and leads one of the most impactful and innovative community development projects ever seen at The UWI.

Professor Boxill has an outstanding record as a leader and administrator. During his career he has served as the Head of the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, Carlton Alexander Professor of Management Studies, and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He was appointed Deputy Principal in 2018.

In his role as agent of community transformation, Professor Boxill was instrumental in the creation of the UWI Community Film Project (UWICFP), an initiative that has been highly successful in uplifting marginalised youth from underserved and high-crime communities in Jamaica. Starting in 2011 with nine students, UWICFP has become a high demand training programme with over 300 graduates. It teaches basic filmmaking while also providing a launching pad for employment, nurturing talent and building self-esteem.

Professor Boxill has been invited to present on UWICFP in many parts of the world, including Colombia, Dubai and the USA. In Colombia, the University of Cartagena has piloted the project in the city of Cartagena and the University of Magdalena, Santa Marta has indicated that they will implement a version of the project in the coming year. The UWI Open Campus has also considered piloting a project in St. Lucia and Grenada.

Closely linked to UWICFP is GATFFEST, one of the Caribbean’s premier film festivals and currently, the largest film festival in Jamaica. Professor Boxill created GATFFEST in 2013 to showcase the work of disadvantaged youth. 

Professor Boxill has also taught at universities in the US, Mexico and New Zealand, published more than 60 articles in reputable academic journals and books and has authored or edited eight books or monographs.

Regional Climate Science Initiative, Climate Studies Group

The Regional Climate Science Initiative (RCSI) is a project coordinated and led by the Climate Studies Group, Mona (CSGM) that was created to provide climate science information and build capacity for the continued provision and use of such information in the Caribbean. Originating out of a climate workshop in Cuba in 2003, RCSI is grounded in international collaboration and includes several projects and international partnerships. RCSI is closely related to the Caribbean Climate Modeler’s Consortium, an annual meeting of climate scientists from leading institutions in Cuba, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname and Belize, including the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.

RCSI looks at issues such as rainfall, the role of tropical oceans in driving climate change, hurricanes, trends in climate extremes, climate projections and modeling and the impact of climate change. Its work has contributed to the emerging prominence of Caribbean climate science and the data produced has been used by countries in their communications to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and in specialised country reports.

Started in 1994 by Emeritus Professor Anthony Chen in the Physics Department of The UWI Mona Campus, the CSGM has made a significant contribution to the development of regional knowledge related to climate and had considerable influence in the development of Caribbean climate policy. CSGM’s Co-Directors are Dr. Tannecia Stephenson and Professor Michael Taylor.

In a statement of support to CSGM, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, said: “Over the course of the last decade the CSGM has emerged as a critical and essential partner to the regional and international climate change scientific community through the provision of updated, region-specific climate change projections.”

International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre, Cocoa Research Centre

The International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre (IFCIC) is the outreach mechanism of the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC) at The UWI St. Augustine, established with support from the European Union (EU), the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and Lindt and Sprungli. It was created to support the advancement of the fine cocoa sector in Latin America and the Caribbean through the development of innovations along the cocoa value chain.

IFCIC combines innovations in the deployment of planting material, agronomy, and risk mitigation to improve productivity as well as innovations in quality management, branding, market linkages and value addition to improve profitability. The Centre includes a physical hub made up of a model cocoa orchard, a modern post-harvest facility, a processing facility to turn cocoa into intermediate products, a quality laboratory, as well as technology and business incubators to support entrepreneurship and business development.

The medium term plan for the IFCIC headquarters includes a cocoa museum and cocoa restaurant to support agricultural and educational tourism. The CRC has also developed a host of technology services, apprenticeship training and short courses to support stakeholders. The CRC has already trained over 200 chocolatiers of which over 25 have started businesses. The aim of the IFCIC is to revitalise the fine flavour cocoa industry and create a value-added enterprise cluster around the regional farming sector.

Founded in 1930, the CRC at The UWI St. Augustine is one of the oldest and most impactful cocoa research and development institutions in the world. CRC’s mandate is to support the conservation of cocoa genetic resources, cocoa research, outreach and development to support producers and the broader cocoa industry.

Global to Local Caribbean Socio-Economic Climate Change (Adaptation and Mitigation Scenarios) (GoLoCarSce) Project

The GoLoCarSce Project was a globally connected regional initiative led by The UWI with teams at the three landed campuses and collaborators at three regional and one global organisation. Running from 2012 to 2016, its objective was to help small island Caribbean states to better understand and manage climate change. GoLoCarSe, for the first time, developed socio-economic scenarios to examine climate change's impact on food and water availability, health, biodiversity, coastal erosion and even the political and economic frameworks. The information received will assist countries in the region to manage climate change and promote sustainability.

Funded by the European Union (EU) through an African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Science and Technology Programme grant, the project's principal investigator was renowned climate change expert Professor John Agard of the Department of Life Sciences in the Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI St. Augustine. The St. Augustine, Mona and Cave Hill teams included participants from life sciences, physics, computer science, economics and other disciplines. The Mona Campus team was led by Professor Michael Taylor and the Cave Hill Campus team by Dr. Adrian Cashman. The late Professor Dave Chadee, one of the region's greatest scientific minds, was also a member of the St. Augustine team.

Other primary collaborative organisations on the project included the Stockholm Environment Institute, Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI), the Cropper Foundation and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. GoLoCarSce created projections for climate change up to 2090, looking at scenarios for its effects on tourism, industrial and agricultural economies. Because of its innovative approach, it has been reported by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as a novel advancement in science and recommended for expansion to Central and South America, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The project has also been selected by the EU-ACP Secretariat as one of the three most impactful that they have sponsored.

More about The UWI Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence programme was established in 1993 by Sir Alister McIntyre, then Vice-Chancellor, to recognise outstanding achievements by Academic staff members inthe areas of Teaching, Research, Service to the University Community, Contribution to Public Service, and All-round Excellence in a combination of two or more of the areas. In 2003, the recognition scheme was expanded to include Senior Administrative and Professional staff, and in 2012 the Vice-Chancellor’s Departmental Award for Excellence was introduced to recognise departments and units in the area of quality assurance excellence. In 2016/2017, two new awards were added for Excellence in Multi-Campus Research Collaboration (the One UWI Award) and Excellence in International Collaboration (the Globalisation Award). All awardees, having proven themselves exemplars in their respective pursuits, are presented with a citation and a monetary prize.

Since its inception, Awards for Excellence have been presented at ceremonies rotated among The UWI campuses. This year’s ceremony at The UWI Mona Campus takes the total of prestigious Awards to 134. The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence is one of the highlights on the University’s calendar. The ceremony takes on added significance under the leadership of current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, who was one of the very first recipients of the inaugural Award.

About The UWI

For the past 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region. In 2018, The UWI celebrates its evolution from 1948 as a university college in Jamaica with 33 medical students to an internationally respected regional university with near 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. Its seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. The UWI has been a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of our people. As the regional institution commemorates its 70th anniversary milestone, it celebrates its students, faculty, administrators, alumni, governments, and partners in the public and private sector. The anniversary commemoration centres on reflection as well as projection for the future with an emphasis on social justice and the economic transformation of the region. Website: and