Meet your USVI Storm Strong Team.


Kristin Wilson Grimes, Ph.D.

Program Lead
Good day, my name is Kristin Wilson Grimes and I am the Project Lead for the USVI Storm Strong Program. I am a coastal wetlands scientist by training, but now work more broadly to understand how people impact and interact with coastal habitats. I work closely with USVI communities to engage them in the projects I work on, to make sure that the science remains relevant and accessible. I live on St. Thomas with my husband, our two island dogs, and adopted cat from Maine! Outside of work, I enjoy relaxing on our beautiful beaches, attending crossfit, cooking, and reading.


Project Lead

My name is Kristin Wilson Grimes and I am a Research Assistant Professor of Watershed Ecology at the University of the Virgin Islands. My work examines human impacts to nearshore environments, including coastal wetlands, focusing on management-relevant science. My research actively engages communities in the U.S Virgin Islands on a wide range of topics, from water quality, to blue carbon, to marine debris, to disaster preparedness. I am deeply committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in the marine sciences, one of the least diverse of all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields. At UVI, my Masters of Marine & Environmental Science students are currently investigating contamination of mangrove and lagoon sediments near Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas, quantifying long-term trends in marine debris for a 30+ year territorial data set, and understanding the biodiversity of sandy beach invertebrates. I am also the Director for the Virgin Islands Water Resources Research Institute, a network of 54 institutes across the United States dedicated to water resource issues and education funded through partnerships between the United States Geological Survey and the states/territories; in this role, I am one of seven women directors, presently. I hold a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College and MS and Ph.D. degrees in Marine Biology, Marine Policy, and Ecology and Environmental Science from the University of Maine. Before living in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I was the Research Coordinator at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, ME, a network of 29 NOAA-supported sites across the country that protect and restore coastal ecosystems through integrated research, stewardship, education, and community partnerships. I currently reside on St. Thomas.


Greg Guannell, Ph.D.

Co-Program Lead
My name is Greg Guannel, I work at UVI and I co-manage the USVI Storm Strong project. I’m a Civil Engineer by training, and have been working on hazard risk reduction issues for more than 10 years. I live on St Thomas with my wife and 2 young kids. Originally from Martinique, I enjoy Caribbean food, music, culture, as well as walking ghuts and learning about the history of the VI. I have a young family and love all things Caribbean, especially Zouk, Kompa, and ginger beer.


Co-Project Investigator

My name is Greg Guannel, and I’m the Director of the Caribbean Green Technology at UVI. I’m also the chair of the resilience and sustainability committee of the St Thomas Recovery Team. Prior to working for UVI, I was the Florida Urban Programs Director for the Nature Conservancy, where I was incorporating vegetation and natural systems in urban improvement design and other adaptation plans to improve the lives of communities. I also worked with the Natural Capital Project at Stanford, looking at how to model and design natural infrastructure for disaster risk reduction in cities and along coastlines; and I was a civil engineer with the environmental consulting firm Anchor QEA. Now, I think about how to improve the energy independence of households, how nature-based infrastructure can help increase the Virgin Islands resilience, and how to better manage waste in the VI. Originally from Martinique, I have a M.S. in Civil Engineering from the Ecole Superieure des Travaux Publics (Paris), a M.S. in Ocean and Coastal Engineering from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University. I live on St Thomas with my wife and 2 young kids, and love to learn about the many facets of Caribbean history and culture.


Allie Durdall, MSc

Program Assistant
Hi there, I’m Allie Durdall. I recently graduated from and work at UVI. I’m a marine and environmental scientist with a love for coastal systems: mangroves, seagrass beds and salt ponds. Originally from Minnesota, I now live on St. Thomas with my rescue-pup, Cooper. I love the warm weather here and enjoy gardening, SCUBA diving, and hiking and swimming with my dog.



My name is Allie Durdall and I’m a Watershed and Marine Technician at UVI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Science. Before working for UVI, I was in the Midwest getting my bachelor’s degree in psychology and general biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While there, I worked in the Language and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab where I gained a new perspective into the importance and science of communication. I also did a study abroad program on South Caicos Island, where I unearthed my marine science passion. This led me to the UVI Master of Marine and Environmental Science Program, where I got lots of hands-on scientific experience, as well as experience with outreach and science education. Before graduating in fall 2018, I interned with the Youth Ocean Explorers Program, and the Natural Conservancy’s coral nursery. My time at UVI has helped me realize the importance of fostering camaraderie among women and minorities in science, and I aim to continue doing outreach and science education throughout my academic career. I love living here in the USVI, and in my spare time I enjoy getting outside: snorkeling, running, SCUBA, gardening and hiking with my dog on this beautiful island!


Howard Forbes, Jr., MSc

Program Facilitator
Hi there, I’m Howard Forbes Jr. I am graduate from the University of the Virgin Islands and now serve as the St. Thomas Coordinator for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service. In this role, I have the opportunity to educate the local community about the importance of our natural resources within the territory. Originally, I am from the island of St. Croix but now reside on St. Thomas. I love living in the tropics as I get to scuba dive, enjoy mostly warm weather, and indulge in authentic Caribbean cuisine.


Curriculum Facilitator

My name is Howard Forbes Jr., and I am currently serving as the St. Thomas Coordinator for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS) which operates through the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). I obtained both my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and my Masters in Marine and Environmental Sciences degree from UVI. While a student at UVI, I was a MARC Scholar (Minority Access to Research Careers) where I was given the opportunity to conduct research in laboratories both at UVI and at Rutgers University. Much of my research interests revolve around medicinal chemistry and mangrove ecology and these interests have helped to shape my role as the VIMAS Coordinator. In this capacity, I have begun exploring techniques used to help effectively communicate science to a broad audience. As the Director of the Youth Ocean Explorers Summer Program, which is a 4-week marine science-based summer program that uses the ocean as the lens through which we teach students about the importance and value of our oceans, I get to provide a unique hands-on experience to our Virgin Islands youth that can inspire them to not only find a passion in exploring the outdoors, but to also explore career paths in the geosciences. Being a native Virgin Islander, this is home for me and I enjoy living here as it gives me the opportunity to spend my time scuba diving and also hiking through mangrove forests.


Kristina K. Edwards

Program Facilitator



Life-long St Thomas resident with marketing, hospitality and environmental outreach experience. Reputation for outstanding people skills and customer service. Passion for improving visitors' impressions and experiences of our islands demonstrated by service on St Thomas/St John Hotel and Tourism Association boards, Blue Flag International, and volunteer efforts with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Proven ability to unite diverse groups to achieve common goals. Skilled at social media, graphic design, environmental education, and public outreach. Leadership and creativity shown in the conception, planning and implementation of local events and environmental outreach projects including sea turtle nest monitoring, lionfish invasion management database, and underwater and coastal cleanups.


Imani Daniel

Community Liaison

Curriculum Facilitator

Imani Daniel is a native Virgin Islander, a public servant, and a Hurricanes IrMaria survivor. After finishing her higher education at the Johns Hopkins University in 2015, she returned home to join the private sector. Since the storms, she has been elected as the Chair of the St. Thomas Recovery Team and served as both the Community Engagement Specialist for VI-EPSCoR and as the Chief of Staff for Virgin Islands’ Senator Jean Forde. As of early February, she has accepted the role of STRT Executive Director and strives to improve the quality of life for all Virgin Islanders through risk assessments, hazard mitigation, and by building resilience in individuals and communities.


Jarvon Stout

Program Facilitator
Oh hi, I almost didn’t see you there. My name is Jarvon. I am a native Virgin Islander and one of the curriculum facilitators for the USVI Storm Strong Program. I have a background in marine biology and have been working as an outreach specialist for 4 years. When I am not engaging and educating underserved communities of the Virgin Islands, I’m spending my time hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, or scheduling multiple power naps for the upcoming week.

Curriculum Facilitator

I am currently serving as the Community Engagement Specialist for the Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI EPSCoR). In 2018, I graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands with a BS in marine biology. While I was an undergraduate, I worked as a Research Assistant for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, where I assisted with numerous education and outreach initiatives. That is where my passion for outreach and community engagement began, and the reason that I am currently working as a community engagement specialist. In my current capacity, it is my mission to educate underrepresented and underserved communities about the importance of, and need to preserve, our vital natural resources.

Being a native Virgin Islander, I have a vested interest in not only promoting environmental literacy and stewardship within my community, but preparedness, resilience and sustainability as well. The USVI Storm Strong program provides engagement specialists like myself with the opportunity to educate and empower the territory by instilling a culture of preparedness within USVI families.


Elisa Bryan Lacatena

Communication Specialist
When I’m not in my office, I can be found in the studio making art, practicing yoga and raising a teenager. A fun fact about me is that I am certified by the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City in Food For Healing.

Communication Specialist

I am the Communication Specialist for VI-EPSCoR and excited to be a part of the USVI Storm Strong Project team. As a multi-generational Virgin Islander of French descent, the impact of the recent hurricanes were felt at a very personal level so Storm Strong has special meaning for me. I am trained as a fine artist and appreciate the opportunity to bring my visual and communication skills to this project. In this program, I manage communication, brand identity and community awareness.

Recently, I completed a 4-month intensive training in Authentic Leadership incorporating Non-Violent Communication techniques. Additional training in mindful meditation and conflict resolution support that certification and my commitment to living and leading authentically.


Karen Peterman, Ph.D.

Program Evaluator
My name is Karen Peterman and I am the Evaluator for the USVI Storm Strong Program. I am a developmental psychologist by training, but I work with clients from around the United States to study STEM projects and the effect they have on audiences. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and now reside in Durham, North Carolina. Outside of work, I enjoy watching my 8-year-old play sports, doing Pilates, and reading. 


My name is Karen Peterman and I am an evaluator and researcher who studies both formal and informal STEM education programs. I own a small consulting firm, called Karen Peterman Consulting, Co. (KPC). Working with a team of staff and consultants, we collect data to help create and understand the impact of STEM projects. My favorites are those that are particularly tricky to study, like science festivals and citizen science projects. I received my Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 2002 and have applied my skills to the field of education ever since, first as part of a consulting company and then on my own. I started doing independent consulting work in 2007 and founded KPC in 2010, with a focus on STEM education. I split my time between providing external evaluation services for some and collaborating to publish educational research with others. A lot of my most recent work has focused on helping others build their own evaluation capacity.


Zelalem Adefris

Program Advisor
At Catalyst Miami, Zelalem works to educate Miami-Dade County residents on the local impacts of climate change, connect climate change to other social justice initiatives, implement programs that strengthen the resilience of communities, and advocate for policies that call for climate action. Zelalem has a Masters in Public Health in Global Environmental Health from Emory University and a Bachelors degree in Community Health from Brown University.  

Zelalem Adefris is the Resilience Director at Catalyst Miami, as well as a Steering Committee Member of the Miami Climate Alliance. She holds an MPH in Global Environmental Health from Emory University and a Bachelor’s degree in Community Health from Brown University. Her previous work experiences include environmental justice organizing at the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and conducting emergency preparedness research at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At Catalyst Miami, Zelalem works to educate Miami-Dade County residents on climate threats, build climate leadership in Miami-Dade County’s low- and middle-income communities, implement programs that strengthen community resilience, and advocate for equitable climate policies.