News Releases

Pioneering COVID-19 Pathogen & Tracking Research Secures Prestigious UWI Principalís Research Award

For Release Upon Receipt - November 27, 2023

St. Augustine


 

 Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine [right] presents the Principal's Award for Best Researcher to Professor Christine Carrington [left] at the Principal's Research Awards.

St. Augustine, November 27, 2023. After a decade-long hiatus, The University of the West Indies (The UWI), St. Augustine Campus hosted the Principal’s Research Awards on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, at the Daaga Auditorium. This award recognition celebrated the outstanding achievements of The UWI scientists and researchers for their contributions during the period 2018-2023 and formed part of the commemorative events for the 75th Anniversary and was themed '75 Years of Relevance, Responsiveness, and Research Innovation for a better life, environment and sustainability.’

 At last evening’s event, Professor Christine Carrington, a renowned molecular genetics and virology expert, stood out among the winners by receiving the Best Researcher Award for her pioneering work in virology. As the top researcher, Professor Carrington’s leadership drove the COVID-19 IMPACT project, which established local SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequencing capacity and conducted genomic surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 variants across 17 Caribbean countries until regional public health bodies established their own capabilities, a year later.

 With over 30 years of infectious disease research experience, Professor Carrington focuses on understanding factors driving the emergence, behaviour, and persistence of viruses, especially vector-borne and zoonotic RNA viruses. The team, led by Professor Carrington, included Dr. Nikita Sahadeo, Dr. Arianne Brown-Jordan, lab technicians Vernie Ramkissoon and Nicholas Mohamed, and research assistants Anushka Ramjag and Soren Nicholls.

 The return of the Awards is the realization of a long-standing goal to spotlight the intelligence and dedication of the academic/scientific community and marks a renewed focus on research as a dynamic force. Professor Antoine firmly believes that “Research must be a living organism, not stuck on a shelf, but driving development and solving daily problems” and the Awards showcased exactly that. Professor Antoine reminded the audience of the many years UWI researchers spend tirelessly attempting to find solutions to the many problems that plague society. By way of examples, she named the research done “in combatting climate change for over 40 years, recognised by the UN when it designated The UWI as the lead university in climate change studies. Our research in health, where ground-breaking work has been achieved in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases, antibiotic resistance, detection of the COVID-19 virus and variants and development of biopesticides, are also both fascinating and transformational.”

 The research spanning over 20 years led to development of innovative products, asphalt sealants, asphalt coatings, and grease lubricants by Mr. Nizamudeen Mohammed & Dr. Lebert Grierson has received Principal’s Special Innovation Award.

 The Principal’s Research Awards showcased a range of impactful research, spanning diverse fields from climate change studies and healthcare innovations to sustainable solutions for societal challenges. In fact, the Campus Principal took the opportunity to launch the Research Digest which is a rich compilation of concise and condensed key findings, insights and significant information extracted from various research studies, academic papers and reports and is a valuable resource for the latest developments and discoveries of many of today's challenges.

 In hailing the achievements of the researchers, Mr. Ugo Blanco, UNDP Resident Representative, was quoted as saying that, “In our pursuit of sustainable development, research stands as the beacon illuminating our path, it's the compass directing policy decisions the key unlocking innovation and the silent force propelling us towards a more sustainable future. As we acknowledge outstanding contributions let's honour the profound impact of research, the engine driving positive change, the foundation upon which sustainable progress is built.”

 Addressing the gathering on behalf of the Minister of Youth Development and National Service, Acting Permanent Secretary Mr. Narine Charran offered congratulations to The UWI awardees stating, “I salute you, for your hard work and commitment, but more importantly, for navigating the realms of cutting-edge research and imparting your knowledge towards the advancement of our nation.”

 The event was attended by Ministers, Ambassadors, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and staff of The UWI St. Augustine. It was immediately followed by the official opening of the campus Research Festival at the JFK Quadrangle, which featured various exhibits, poster presentations, and oral sessions, Screening of documentary films, theatrical Displays, Panel Discussion and Workshop on University-Industry-Government & Civil Society Organization, offering a glimpse into the extensive research endeavours undertaken at The UWI St. Augustine Campus. Professor Antoine extended an invitation to stakeholders, urging collaboration in creating an environment conducive to purposeful research that addresses societal needs. The commitment to a stronger academia-government-industry relationship for national development underscored the university's vision.

 For further information, please visit https://sta.uwi.edu/researchawards/

 

List of awardees

 Most Outstanding Faculty Researcher

Faculty of Engineering – Professor Kit Fai Pun

Faculty of Food and Agriculture – Prof Mark Wuddivira

Faculty of Humanities and Education – Dr Freddy James

Faculty of Law – Dr Emma Perot

Faculty of Medical Sciences – Prof Chris Oura

Faculty of Science and Technology – Dr Sreedhara Rao Gunakala

Faculty of Social Sciences – Dr Talia Esnard

 Most Outstanding Researcher of the Centre/Institute/Unit

Institute of International Relations – Professor Michelle Scobie

 Most Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award & Mentorship Award

Graduate Researcher - Dr. Stephanie Mohammed 

Mentors - Dr. Nikolay Zyuzikov and Dr. Venkatesan Sundaram

 Best Team Research

Prof Christine Carrington & Team

For the team work on “COVID-19: Infectious disease Molecular epidemiology for Pathogen Control & Tracking (COVID-19 IMPACT)”

 Most Outstanding Regional/International Research Project          

Prof Christine Carrington & Team

For the regional project on “COVID-19: Infectious disease Molecular epidemiology for Pathogen Control & Tracking (COVID-19 IMPACT)”

Team: Dr. Nikita Sahadeo and Dr. Arianne Brown-Jordan; lab technicians Messrs. Vernie Ramkissoon and Nicholas Mohamed; and research assistants Anushka Ramjag and Soren Nicholls.

 Most Productive Research Department

Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering – Head of the Department - Dr. Jacqueline Bridge

 Most Productive Research Institute, Centre or Unit

Cocoa Research Centre - Director- Prof. Pathmanathan Umaharan

Team: Dr. Lambert Motilal, Geneticist and Dr. Naailah Ali, Food Technologist

 Principal’s Award for Most Impactful Community Research

Dr. Angelique Nixon - Institute for Gender and Development Studies

Lead Researcher for the project “A Sexual Culture of Justice: Strengthening LGBTQI and GBV Partnerships, Capacity and Efficacy to Promote and Protect Rights in Trinidad and Tobago”

Receiving the award with her were

Team:  Jeremy Stephan Edwards, Executive Director, The Silver Lining Foundation and Rae Alibey, Director, Transgender Coalition.

 Principal’s Special Innovation Award

Mr. Nizamudeen Mohammed & Dr. Lebert Grierson for the development of asphalt-based sealants, coatings and lubricants

 Principal’s Award for Best Researcher Prof. Christine Carrington – Faculty of Medical Sciences

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS

 

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine [front row centre] celebrates all awardees with The Honourable the Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago Mr. Justice Ivor Archie O.R.T.T. [left] and Senator The Honourable Allyson West Minister of Public Administration [right] at the Principal's Research Awards.

 

 

 Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine [front row centre] officially opens the Research Festival with Senator The Honourable Allyson West Minister of Public Administration [front row centre, right], Mr. Ugo Blanco, Resident Representative of the UNDP Multi-Country Office for Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten [front row centre, left], The Honourable the Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago Mr. Justice Ivor Archie O.R.T.T. [back row] and sponsors. 

 

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine [front row centre] with a cross-section of students from various Tobago schools that visited for the Research Festival.

 

 About The University of the West Indies

 The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region for the past 75 years.

 From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

 The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

 The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean in the World University Rankings, it is also in the top 25 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

 2023 marks The UWI’s 75th anniversary. The Diamond jubilee milestone themed “UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising.” features initiatives purposely designed and aligned to reflect on the past, confront the present, and articulate plans for the future of the regional University.

 Learn more at www.uwi.edu  

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