(l-r, front) National University of Samoa’s Vice Chancellor, Aiono Professor Dr. Alec Ekeroma with UNDP Assistant Representative, Christina Mualia-Lima and NUS Management & UNDP staff (back) at the handover of the underwater drone.

Students and staff of the Faculty of Science at the National University of Samoa have received a boost to their underwater research capabilities, thanks to an underwater drone they received from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The drone will be used in analyzing fresh and salt-water resources and their microbiological composition and microplastics content, amongst other things.

NUS Vice Chancellor, Aiono Professor Dr. Alec Ekeroma, said this is a welcomed assistance as it will increase the Faculty’s ability to conduct underwater research.

“We are thankful for these resources and we would also like to acknowledge the pivotal role of Professor Gary Goldstein, our research partners from New York University in New York and Abu Dhabi and the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment in Samoa,” Prof. Ekeroma said.

He added that the drone can be used for a variety of projects including commercial ones, so that while students learn research methods, they will also be generating income for NUS.

The drone is part of UNDP’s assistance under the Samoa Knowledge Society Initiative, which aims to support creating, accessing, disseminating and preserving information and knowledge as it accelerates the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

This rights-based initiative acknowledges the right of access to information for all Samoans, contributing towards an enabling environment for enhanced digital development through the Initiative’s output of a one federated Knowledge Societies platform with two repositories and a digital library (SADIL).  

One of the repositories is the open research one, a distinct digital platform that holds research output and provides free, immediate access to research results for anyone to use, download and distribute.  In putting together this platform, specific emphasis has been placed on a pilot of multidisciplinary research covering the environment-health nexus through testing the biosecurity of freshwater streams in Samoa against the Mendeleev Periodic Table as well as in micro plastic and bacterial concentration.

“We believe this donation to the NUS will assist students and staff in carrying out open access research, establish a community of practice and multi-partner research,” said Christina Mualia-Lima, UNDP’s Assistant Resident Representative, Governance & Poverty Reduction Unit.

“UNDP gladly hands over this underwater drone which forms part of the knowledge-based initiative in the hope that it will be of great benefit to future scientific research activities under the Faculty of Science of the National University of Samoa.”

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) – more commonly referred to as underwater drones – are changing the way in which oceanographic research and other underwater work is being done all over the world. NUS joins a growing list of institutions who are able to do just this, now that it has its first AUV.


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