Young Scientist Conference meets in Caribbean for first time

University of the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago)

Young scientists met in Scarborough, Tobago, on 7–9 December 2011 for a conference organized by Cariscience, an NGO affiliated to UNESCO. The objective was to provide a forum at which young scientists from Latin America and the Caribbean could present their cutting-edge research.

The conference was held in the Caribbean for the first time, in partnership with the Latin America Regional Office of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), which had organized all nine previous Young Scientist Conferences in the region. To mark the occasion, the 2011 Caricom Science Award figured among the annual prizes awarded to the most promising young researchers present.

The countries of the Caribbean Common Market (Caricom) were the object of a chapter in the UNESCO Science Report 2010 co-authored by Professor Harold Ramkissoon, Executive Secretary of Cariscience, and Professor Ishenkumba Kahwa from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

In their analysis, the authors observed that expenditure on research and development (R&D) was dismally low in the Caricom countries. The two most populous Caricom countries after Haiti, namely Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, devoted just 0.06% of GDP to R&D.

A meteoric rise in student enrollment had unfortunately not been matched by a proportionate increase in academic staff numbers, they observed. However, the chapter ended on an optimistic note with the authors recalling the region’s great expectations for the Caribbean Science Foundation founded in September 2010. The foundation will be responsible for strengthening ties between the private sector and academia by fostering collaborative R&D.

The Young Scientist Conference was financially sponsored by TWAS, UNESCO, the Governments of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, BG Trinidad and Tobago, PROMAN AG (Trinidad) Ltd, the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, the First Citizens Bank Limited and UWI.

For details, contact the conference organizer or UNESCO’s Jamaica office

More on Cariscience and the December 2011 conference

More on UNESCO’s work in science in the Caribbean

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