News Releases

Five to receive UWI Vice Chancellorís Award for Excellence

For Release Upon Receipt - July 25, 2012

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago – This year, the Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence, which recognizes high achievement of Academic and Senior Administrative staff at The University of the West Indies (UWI) will be presented to Professor Hazel Oxenford and Professor Eddy Ventose of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Mark Figueroa of the Mona Campus and Professor Zulaika Ali and Dr. Grace Sirju-Charran of the St. Augustine Campus and at a special ceremony scheduled for October 29, 2012 at the Mona Campus in Jamaica. 

These awards will be presented in the following five categories:

(i) Excellence in TeachingDr. Grace Sirju-Charran, Life Sciences, St. Augustine Campus

(ii) Research Accomplishments Professor Eddy Ventose, Faculty of Law, Cave Hill Campus

(iii) Service to the University CommunityProfessor Mark Figueroa, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Mona Campus

(iv) Public Service Professor Zulaika Ali, Faculty of Medical Sciences, St. Augustine Campus

(v) All-round Performance (in two or more of the four core areas) Professor Hazel Oxenford, Centre of Resource Management and Environmental Studies, Cave Hill Campus 

About the Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence

The annual Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence was initiated in 1993 by former UWI Vice Chancellor, Sir Alister McIntyre, to recognize high achievement by academic as well as senior administrative staff. Each award is valued at US$5,000. 

About the Awardees


A recipient of the UWI/Guardian Life Premium Award for Excellence in Teaching, Dr. Grace Sirju-Charran has been a pioneer in course development at The University of the West Indies in the field of Science and Agriculture. During her 36-year tenure as a lecturer, Dr. Sirju-Charran developed two Gender courses: Gender & Science and Gender Issues in Agriculture; spearheaded the development of a course on Comparative Biochemistry and Bioethics; and chaired a committee to revise the content of the Chemistry for Life Science course. Dr. Sirju-Charran also served as the co-coordinator of the Women and Development Studies Group, and in this capacity, chaired the organising committees for three significant conferences related to Gender and Science. Her vast repertoire of work includes three book chapters; 50 scholarly publications: 13 in refereed international journals and 37 in peer-reviewed conference proceedings; 45 conference presentations; several technical reports and invited presentations. Dr. Sirju-Charran’s service to the teaching fraternity has been recognized with a number of accolades including the Naparima Girls’ High School Alumnae Award, The ACU Shell Fellowship in Biotechnology, Senior Fulbright Award, the UWI/Cable and Wireless Fellowship in Distance Education, the NIHERST Gold Medal in 2011 in recognition of her contribution to Plant Science. She was featured as one of the eminent women scientists in Latin America and the Caribbean on the Inter-American Network of Academics of Science Networks (IANAS) website.    


Professor Eddy Ventose has served the Faculty of Law since 2006. He teaches Intellectual Property Law, Administrative Law, Contract Law and the Law of Corporate Finance within the LLB Programme and focuses his research on Intellectual Property Law with a particular interest in the application of patent law to the medical field. A prolific scholar, he has over 50 publications in internationally recognized, peer-reviewed, law journals, including the “Law Quarterly Review”, “Public Law” “Commonwealth Law Bulletin,” “International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law,” “The Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice” and the “Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal.” Professor Ventose’s monograph “Medical Patent Law: The Challenges of Medical Treatments” was published in 2011. His second book, “Commonwealth Caribbean Administrative Law,” will be published in November 2012 and will be the first book published in the Commonwealth Caribbean to specifically and comprehensively address all aspects of Caribbean administrative law. Professor Ventose was the recipient of the Principal’s Award for Excellence in Research for the academic year 2010/2011 and is the founder of the Intellectual Property Unit in the Faculty of Law which was officially opened in September 2011.   


Professor Mark Figueroa has made significant operational and strategic contributions to UWI as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Mona. His tenure has been characterized by the enhancement of administrative processes, governance structures, and management systems (often using new technologies) and the motivation of greater performance from all categories of staff and students. He has contributed to a change in culture, based on the building of a collective leadership to resolving various Faculty challenges; thereby ensuring that gains, once made, are secured. His influence has extended beyond the Faculty and has impacted a wide range of UWI committees and policies to which he has made a defining contribution. This is exemplified by the role he played in drafting the ordinance which integrated the Committee of Deans into the University’s governance structure and his service as the Committee’s first Chair (and subsequently as a member) under the new dispensation; it is also seen in his noteworthy involvement in the development of the UWI Mona, Western Jamaica Campus. Examples of his innovations as Dean include an online system – to replace the paper based processing of ‘student matters’ – now being used by the entire Mona Campus, and the introduction of undergraduate degree programs delivered entirely on weekends. Notwithstanding his heavy service commitments, Professor Figueroa has remained a productive researcher. He is an eight-time recipient of the Mona Principal’s Research Day Award (Social Sciences): Most Outstanding Researcher, 2011 and 2005 and Best Article, 2011(two awards), 2010, 2006, 2005 and 2003.  


Well published for her research in Neonatology, Professor of Child Health (Neonatology) Zulaika Ali MB BS DCH FRCPCH CMT has contributed extensively to The UWI’s Faculty of Medical Sciences, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mount Hope, numerous charitable organizations, the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health and the public health sector.

As a founding member of the charitable organization Friends to the Max, Professor Ali provides aid for children, victims of rape, and members of the underprivileged community of Trinidad and Tobago. As Director and founder of the UWI Telehealth Programme established in 2004, she has helped children affected by complex congenital heart disease and other diseases which cannot be treated locally through clinical consultations with specialists from the Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto. This programme has assisted over 181 families thus far and saved TT$10 million in costs for the country. Professor Ali’s contributions also extend to health care management, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS and as a former board member of the National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC) in Trinidad and Tobago. She is also the Director of the Trinidad and Tobago Health Training Centre (TTHTC) a multi-sectoral partnership including The UWI, the Ministry of Health, the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the European Union (EU) among others. The TTHTC is tasked with improving knowledge and skills of health care providers in HIV/AIDS and other health priority areas identified by the Ministry of Health. As the Campus Co-coordinator of the UWI HIV/AIDS Response Programme (UWI HARP) Professor Ali is also responsible for strengthening The UWI St. Augustine Campus to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic through Campus-wide curriculum development, staff and student sensitization and training, increasing library resources and contributing to the development of the UWI HIV workplace policy. Professor Ali’s work has been recognized by the University of Bristol, the Mount Hope Women’s Hospital, the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association and The UWI Faculty of Medical Sciences. She was also the recipient of the Trinidad and Tobago National Chaconia Medal Silver award in 2010.  


Experienced Fisheries Scientist and Marine Ecologist, Professor Hazel Oxenford, has made sterling contributions to The UWI since beginning lecturing at the institution in 1990. She is an internationally recognized expert in applied marine biology and marine management with particular focus on coral reefs and pelagic fisheries. The former head of the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), UWI Cave Hill has co-edited a volume on eastern Caribbean flying-fish and co-authored a book on Barbados’ coral reefs. Professor Oxenford’s professional experience is extensive and in the last five years has included appointment as a member of the Scientific Authority under the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Act (2006), Government of Barbados; The Fisheries Advisory Committee under the Fisheries Act, Government of Barbados; the international Fisheries Expert Group under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on Ecosystem Management; and most recently appointment as an Associate Editor for the Bulletin of Marine Science (2012-2014). Professor Oxenford’s quality research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, books and theses. Her individual and collaborative research has secured research  funding amounting to more than $US 2.1 million including the award of US$1.3 million to CERMES for a four-year project on the Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment.

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About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences. 

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)