SURF

Alexandra Langer

The Hydrological Legacy of Sugar Planting in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Present-day residents of St. Croix (Crucians), many of whom are descendants of enslaved Africans, regularly endure droughts and lack reliable and safe drinking water. Moreover, several of the islands natural aquafers have become contaminated with salt water, while siltation from the islands eroding landmass continues to harm nearby critical coral reef ecosystems. More recently, it has also been made clear that this small Caribbean island is highly susceptible to intense tropical weather events, with many Crucians today still suffering from the extensive water damage caused by the two category 5 Hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that hit the U.S. Virgin Islands in the summer of 2017. Using multiple lines of evidence from the fields of history, archaeology, hydrology, and paleolimonology, this project will test the hypothesis that the rapid and unsustainable intensification of St. Croixs sugar-based monoculture between the 17th and 19th centuries led to the islands currently observable lack of water hazard resilience.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to work with my SMART mentor over the summer on his research. As a hopeful historian, being allowed to work with historical research in my undergraduate years not only helped me to improve my resume for grad school, but also taught me many of the skills I will need for the undergraduate thesis I will be writing this coming spring. I also am glad for having had the chance to speak at the conference, since it was my first time ever presenting any of my work publicly, and I'm glad to have gained that experience for the future. I will treasure this experience for years to come, so thank you for your support.
  • Major: History
  • Mentor: Benjamin Siegel