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Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster

Co-Chair, NCHD Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research Forum; Professor (Retired) and President Emerita, University of the Virgin Islands
 LaVerne Ragster, born and raised in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, is a retired Professor of Marine Biology and President Emerita of the University of the Virgin Islands. She has conducted research and training in the areas of algal physiology and natural resource management, presented and published in the areas of plant physiology, natural resource management and training, and obtained training and practical experience in institutional and leadership development over a 40-year span. Dr. Ragster has served on the MUSC National Conference on Health Disparities Student Research Forum planning committee since 2013 and as co-chair since 2017.

Her educational career included completion of a number of leadership development certificates in recent years and a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry (University of Miami) in 1973, a M.S. in Biology (San Diego State University, algal physiology concentration) in 1975 and a Ph.D. in Biology (University of California, San Diego, plant biochemistry concentration) in 1980.

Dr. Ragster’s service experience includes national participation on the National Environmental Policy Commission of the Congressional Black Caucus Brain Trust on Environmental Justice, Commissions and programs of the American Council on Education and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and membership on the National Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, the US Integrated Ocean Observing Systems Advisory Committee, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Review Committee and as a contributing author to the U.S. Caribbean Chapter in the Fifth National Climate Assessment. She has worked in the Eastern Caribbean with the United Nations Environmental Program, Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and the Caribbean Conservation Association on projects that helped to establish protected areas on the land and sea in a number of island states in the Caribbean. Dr. Ragster served as chair of the board of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), a regional NGO facilitating linkages between conservation, resource management and livelihoods in the Caribbean and currently as Co-Chair of the Governing Board of the Consortium of the Yale Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center. She has served locally on several boards, including Island Resources Foundation, VI Waste Management Authority, VI Public Television System, and the Rotary Club of St. Thomas II. Dr. Ragster has been recognized and honored by Virgin Islands organizations, (US) national organizations, higher education institutions, and the President of the U.S. for her teaching, work in conservation, leadership, and community service.

At the present time, Dr. Ragster continues to serve the University of the Virgin Islands and the VI community through an assignment with the UVI Caribbean Exploratory Research Center, focusing her scholarly efforts on climate change adaptation in the Caribbean, especially in the area of public health. 

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