LaVerne Ragster, born and raised in St. Thomas, United States (US) Virgin Islands (VI), is a retired Professor of Marine Biology and President Emerita of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). 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 38-year span. She remains involved in UVI, currently through an assignment with the UVI Caribbean Exploratory Research Center, focusing on climate change adaptation in the Caribbean, especially in the area of public health

LaVerne previously served as chair of CANARI’S Board.  She has also served locally and nationally on many Boards, including those of the Island Resources Foundation, VI Waste Management Authority, Clean Islands International, VI Public Television System, the Rotary Club of St. Thomas II and the Yale-Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center Consortium Governing Board.  She is a representative on the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant Program Stakeholder Committee, the USVI Climate Change Council, and the VI Law Enforcement Planning Commission State Advisory Group.

LaVerne has contributed to numerous national and regional policy-making processes and 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.  She has been recognised and honoured by VI organizations, United States (US) national organisations, higher education institutions, and the US President. for her teaching, work in conservation, leadership, and community service.

LaVerne holds a BSc. in Biology and Chemistry, University of Miami, 1973, an MSc. in Biology, San Diego State University, 1975 and a Ph.D. in Biology, University of California, San Diego, 1980. In recent years, she has also completed of a number of leadership development certificates.