Published On: Thu, Oct 13th, 2016

US embassy hosts Eastern Caribbean citizen science and climate change program

slu_climate_groupBRIDGETOWN - The US Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is hosting Dr Gillian Bowser, research scientist at Colorado State University, in a three-country traveling program to promote ways ordinary “citizen scientists” can help observe and promote awareness of climate change in their communities. The program travels to Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica.

During her visit to Saint Lucia, Bowser met with the science students of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. After a spirited discussion on the various climate change issues affecting Saint Lucia, Bowser led the 33 students on an excursion outdoors where they collected a number of plant and insect specimens. On returning indoors, they analyzed their photos and specimens, and uploaded them to an international database.

Bowser also hosted a technical workshop for members of the community in Saint Lucia who are heavily involved in the environment. Taking place against the beautiful backdrop of Pigeon Island, the workshop brought together members from a number of environmental non-governmental organizations. Led by Bowser, they collected insects from a pond, measured the spread of invasive lemongrass, and collected various specimens from the beach on the Caribbean Sea side of Pigeon Island. They also discussed environmental changes they had observed on the island.

“The US Embassy hosted this program because the nations of the Eastern Caribbean are highly sensitive to the impacts of climate change due to their small geographic size, low coastal elevations, and fragile landscapes,” said deputy public affairs officer Jeff Barrus. “These impacts can have far-reaching ramifications for regional economic growth and development, public health, and food security. We support efforts to build capacity within the region to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. This begins with widespread awareness of the problem by the general population.”

Bowser is a research scientist at Colorado State University, where her research is focused on biodiversity, sustainability, and women’s scholarship. She has devoted much of her efforts to how climate change impacts resources and communities. A native of Brooklyn, New York, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Northwestern University, a Master of Science in Zoology at the University of Vermont, and a doctoral degree at the University of Missouri – St Louis. She worked with the National Park Service for over 20 years as a wildlife ecologist, including 11 years spent studying insects, bison and rodents at Yellowstone National Park.

Photo: Participants of the citizen scientists workshop pose for a group photo with presenter Dr Gillian Bowser, and Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jeff Barrus at the conclusion of the first session of the program on Pigeon Island


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