The ALEX Blog

Shoutout to Present and Future CoBE Students

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 10:26am by

What Do These Schools Have In Common?


The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s College of Business and Economics ranks as a better program than the business schools at each of the universities listed above!

As a matter of fact, in their 2015 analyses the Eduniversal Ranking Agency for Business Schools classified The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s College of Business and Economics as an “Excellent business school with strong global influence.”

BBIBP Internship

Friday, April 29, 2016, 10:15am by

Sunset Over Mauna Kea

Summer paid intern:

Assist in all matters relating to planning and successful implementation of BBIBP events.

Coordinate promotion and advertising for BBIBP including press releases, website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Coordinate and assist communications with Organizing committee.

Attend all meetings are BBIBP and prepare minutes/notes for all.

Collect and organize incoming requests and entrants are BBIBP

Applicants go here:

Other News:

UH Hilo and the Big Island Chamber of Commerce will be hosting and sponsoring a competition open to any individual or group whose business plan focuses on developing or expanding a business based on Hawaii Island. A $25,000 GRAND PRIZE 

Undergraduate Presents Research on Future of Hawaii

Monday, April 25, 2016, 10:28am by

How did you spend your spring break?

Political Science Senior Tyler Hoffman

Political Science Senior Tyler Hoffman

UH Hilo senior Tyler Hoffman was at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego, California, sharing his research with members of the Western Political Science Association.

Mr. Hoffman had been invited to present “Fragmenting Democratic Leadership in the State of Hawai‘i.” This paper, which Mr. Hoffman co-authored with Dr. Todd Belt and Dr. Colin D. Moore, examined the overall well-being of the state of Hawai‘i for the second half of the state government’s biennial fiscal year 2015/2016-2016/2017. The researchers considered the state’s economy, demographic composition, and major financial issues.  They then analyzed the Governor’s proposed budget and how the state Senate and House of Representatives planned to change it.

They concluded that while the lawmakers in Hawai‘i are largely united by their party, there is a lack of unity regarding how the legislature would address the major issues facing the state. The paper will appear in the California Journal of Politics & Policya scholarly journal published by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley.

Tyler Hoffman is a student of Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.  Throughout his time at the university, he has taken advantage of several applied learning opportunities. During the spring semester of 2015, he was employed as an intern in Senator Brian Schatz’s Honolulu Office, where communicated with different constituent groups on behalf of the Senator.  Currently, he works in the Office of Applied Learning Experiences (ALEX) as Communications Editor and is an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Political Science Department.

“Applied learning is an integral component of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s strategic plan,” writes UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney. Students like Mr. Hoffman, who have applied learning experiences, “graduate with an immediate advantage: they will have work experience through internships, collaborative research projects with professors, and/or community projects. Many of our students are already out working in the community, applying the learning they receive in the classroom, getting real-life experience before they enter the workforce with their degree.”

After graduation, Mr. Hoffman plans to go back to his hometown in California, where he will coach and play soccer until the following year when he will start studying for his JD/PHD degrees.  Mr. Hoffman agrees that his applied learning experiences have been invaluable. “When I was working in Senator Schatz’s office, I had the opportunity to communicate with various constituents and organization on behalf of the Senator. At the presentation in San Diego, I met with various academics and had the chance to learn about some of the most current and interesting research in Political Science.  These are amazing opportunities for an undergrad, and I’d encourage every UH Hilo student to take advantage of at least one applied learning opportunity.”

Exploring Pure Math

Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 7:15pm by

Reuben Tate’s current Pure Math project is titled, “Catenary Degree of Elements Generated by Generalized Arithmetic Progressions.”

Reuben Tate

Reuben Tate

Reuben Tate is a computer science and mathematics double major at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, but this was not always the case.  After attending UH Mānoa his first semester out of high school and the University of Southern California for his second, Tate found himself returning to his home island of Hawai‘i to finish the rest of his college career at UH Hilo, starting in the fall semester of 2012.

Originally a computer science major, Tate decided to take on mathematics as an additional major during the spring semester of 2013.  The following summer, he enrolled in a course instructed by Roberto Pelayo, associate professor of mathematics, entitled Pure Math. Pure Math is a unique math-oriented program that recruits undergraduates nationwide and enables them to apply their learning experiences through mathematical research projects.

Tate’s current Pure Math project is titled, “Catenary Degree of Elements Generated by Generalized Arithmetic Progressions.” But what does that mean exactly? Tate explains that this project explores how numbers can be broken down in terms of other numbers.  This allows him to see how different methods of summation are either similar or different, to one another.

For example, Tate explains, in “The McNugget Monoid,” we imagine that six, nine and 20 are numbers that are generated in one method. So, if we wanted to know how to obtain 18 McNuggets, we can do so by getting either two packs of nine McNuggets, or three packs of six McNuggets (each method adds one number of an object to another and equals desired final number).  This study aims to demonstrate the various ways one can reach the desired total, based on any given set of numbers. Thus, the questions can be asked: “How are they similar?” and “How are they different?”

Tate presented his research at the UH Hilo STEM Honors Symposium on April 13.

College Central Network (CCN)

Monday, April 11, 2016, 11:12am by

College Central_Logo

The database where employers find you. Upload your resume and have jobs compete for you! Not satisfied with your resume? Utilize all the resources that CCN offers. Gain access to videos, podcasts, and guides for tips on cover letters, resumes, and interviewing skills, college central network has it all! Regester now for a complete look at its resources or it’s always updating job and internship catalog. Visit to get started!

UH Hilo astronomy students take spectacular pictures of night sky

Friday, April 1, 2016, 5:13pm by

At recent observing sessions on Maunakea, students studied a comet, measured different aspects of Jupiter, and studied properties of galaxies—and the images are spectacular.


Horsehead and Flame Nebulae. Picture: Pruyne, Silva and Thieme, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UH Hilo, March 2016. Click photos to enlarge

Astronomy students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo are taking spectacular photos this semester of comet Catalina, Jupiter, Orion Nebula and more. The students trek up Maunakea to work with the telescopes under a gorgeous starry sky.

The astronomy majors are taking the observational astronomy lab with R. Pierre Martin, assistant professor of astronomy and UH Hilo’s observatory director. This semester Martin has 12 students in the lab (ASTR250L), which is a companion lab to the course Observational Astronomy (ASTR250).

In the lab, students use and characterize astronomical instruments (telescopes, detectors and spectrographs) and do astronomical observations such as imaging and acquiring spectroscopic data. The students learn all of these different techniques in the context of planetary, stellar and extragalactic astrophysics.

“The main goal for the course is to introduce students to modern astronomy techniques using small-aperture telescopes,” says Martin. “Although very modest in comparison to large telescopes used for most of astronomical research programs today, techniques like photometry and spectroscopy can be taught on smaller telescopes.”

The lab

The first experiment of the lab helps students become familiar with the equipment. “This semester the group took some very nice pictures of the sky, some quite spectacular in fact,” says Martin.

Set up 3

Under the tutelage of Pierre Martin (at right in back of telescope), students set up for observation on Maunakea, February 26, 2016. (photo by John Coney)

The second observing session saw one team studying a comet, another one measuring different aspects of Jupiter by obtaining very nice images with a specialized camera, and the third team studied some properties of galaxies.

“We also aim at teaching the typical steps to conduct observational programs,” Martin says. “We do one experiment per month and, with some coaching by myself, each team of four is responsible for deciding which experiment they want to conduct, which object or objects they want to observe, and how.”

The class deploys a suite of telescopes near the Maunakea Visitor Information Center and conducts observing for roughly six or seven hours in a row. Each month, each team conducts a different experiment with a different setup so at the end of the semester, all basic techniques have been covered.

“I believe that providing these different steps in observational astronomy from small-aperture telescopes to medium size ones to much larger telescopes, is a unique training program, not really offered anywhere else,” says Martin. “Learning these techniques from the ground-up is very valuable for our students pursuing a career in astronomy at the graduate school level, or as support staff for astronomical facilities.”


Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina). Picture: Cross, Hedglen, Laguana and Weber, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UH Hilo, March 2016.

For the full article and more photos of the observation run, go to the UH Hilo Stories website.

UH Hilo team to compete in Microsoft US Imagine Cup 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016, 5:16pm by

The computer science students developed a program that guides users in choosing the plant species that are most beneficial for restoration projects.


Team No Sleep, from left, Anthony Vizzone, Pauleen Pante, Bryson Fung and Reuben Tate. (photo credit: Casey Pearring)

Four seniors from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo are on their way to the Microsoft Imagine Cup U.S. finals held March 31 in San Francisco. Team No Sleep members Bryson Fung, Pauleen Pante, Reuben Tate and Anthony Vizzone are participating in the advanced division of the competition, under the category of World Citizenship. This division of the Imagine Cup is a global competition, with efforts specifically geared toward changing the world for the better.

Tate, a mathematics and computer science major and the team’s mathematics coordinator, says their program is designed with the intent of improving restoration efforts.

Restoring Ecosystems Services Tool

“We have developed a program that guides users in choosing what species of plants are most beneficial for their restoration goals,” he says. “It does this by looking at properties of each plant species, called functional traits, and seeing which plants are functionally similar to one another via a statistical approach called principal components analysis.”

Fung, a computer science major and the lead programmer elaborates, “(The program is) called Restoring Ecosystems Services Tool, or REST for short. Depending on your purpose, the program can help you build ecosystems that are more fire resistant, more preventative of invasive species, or having more carbon storage (giving ecosystems longer lifespans). The list goes on.”

The tool uses trait and data restoration goals to help build ecosystems tailored to the need of the client.

“Biologists will be using the program to help restore the functionality of the local environment,” says Vizzone, a computer science student and the database manager of the team.

Pante is the team leader. She believes their project could do some serious good for Hawaiʻi and eventually have a global impact.

“Around the world, various plant ecosystems are in decline due to factors such as invasive plants, human activity, and plant disease,” she explains. “Restoring these ecosystems is a difficult task since more times than not, it is nearly impossible to restore the ecosystem back to its original state. As a solution, researchers can instead restore ecosystem function by introducing non-native yet non-invasive plants that are similar to their native counterparts as a means of maintaining such ecosystem function. Still, finding similar plants with similar functional traits is not trivial. That is where our program comes in.”

For the full story, see the UH Hilo Stories article.

A UH Hilo Stories article by Shalyn Lewis, a student writer for the UH Hilo Marketing Office.

UH Hilo undergraduate Jasmin Silva conducting astronomy research

Friday, March 18, 2016, 3:32pm by

Waiakea High School grad Jasmin Silva started her journey into research when she received a NASA Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium fellowship in 2015.

By Lara Hughes.


Student Jasmin Silva working with the Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI) at W. M. Keck Observatory headquarters in Waimea on Hawai‘i Island, Feb. 2015.

Jasmin Silva, a junior at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, is working alongside mentor Kathy Cooksey, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, conducting research contributing to the understanding of the gaseous structures surrounding galaxies and how they evolve over time. It is a way of understanding the chemistry of the universe and what has been created by stars.

Silva, a double major in physics and astronomy with a minor in mathematics, started her journey into research and discovery when she received a NASA Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium fellowship for the spring and fall 2015 semesters. This fellowship allows undergraduate students enrolled in fields relevant to NASA’s goals to do research alongside a mentor who is typically a faculty member.

Silva has been working on her project, “Understanding Galactic Evolution through Absorption,” under the guidance of Cooksey, a highly accomplished astronomer who arrived at UH Hilo in 2014.

From Waiakea High School to astronomy research

Jasmin Silva and her mentor Prof. Kathy Cooksey discuss Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI) data at W. M. Keck Observatory headquarters in Waimea

Jasmin Silva and her mentor Prof. Kathy Cooksey discuss Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI) data at W. M. Keck Observatory headquarters in Waimea. Click to enlarge.

Silva is using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to construct and analyze quasar absorption-line spectra of the cosmos. Some of this work is done remotely at the UH Hilo campus. Silva was also able to observe with the 10-m Keck II Telescope, which is located on Maunakea but data collection is done remotely at the headquarters in Waimea.

The initial interest in the fellowship was sparked by a classroom encounter. Silva was enrolled in one of Cooksey’s classes already having taken physics at Waiakea High School, and this proved helpful.

Cooksey notes, “She was more advanced at some levels and focused on getting her astronomy degree.”

Silva says, “Kathy asked me to do research with her, but before that it was definitely in my head that sometime in my career I would do research. If you want to go to graduate school a lot of it is research. I figured I would want to get that kind of experience, then Kathy gave me a good opportunity.”

It was the first applied learning experience for Silva as a student.

The boost of applied learning

Something that Silva really appreciated about the fellowship was the fact that undergraduates were able to have the experience of writing their own research proposal and organizing a time scale in which to carry it out.

She explains, “It’s important for the future, when you are applying for grants or fellowships, to know how to do that.”

Silva also feels that the applied learning experience encourages students and allows them to see what they are capable of— “It helps me be more confident that I can do graduate school in the future.”

Cooksey herself conducted many research projects as an undergraduate and feels that the experience gained in applied learning is necessary for those wishing to continue on to graduate school.

She says, “Computer skills, thought processes… grad school wants you to hit the ground running. It’s great that the UH System is a Space Grant Institution that is allowed to get this NASA (funding) to pay for interns to get them started. Jasmin is now in a better position to get into more prestigious programs.”

Silva just finished her final semester of research with the fellowship but has continued to work independently with Cooksey. She is also applying to other internship opportunities and grants, including a summer internship with Gemini Observatories.

She feels that her undergraduate education has been supplemented by the fellowship. Silva believes that the experience has helped prepare her to educate the public about the science community (she serves as an astronomy educator in the Hilo-Waiākea Complex Area) and she encourages other university students to apply for similar opportunities.

She plans to continue on to graduate school.

Originally published at UH Hilo Stories.

About the author of this story: Lara Hughes is a junior at UH Hilo majoring in business administration. She is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor. 

Dr. Seuss Day

Monday, March 14, 2016, 12:52pm by


On March 2, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Athletic Department participated in the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Dr. Seuss Day. UH Hilo student-athletes brought books and tall striped hats a la Cat in the Hat to 1,800 keiki in seven different East Hawai‘i elementary schools.

There they showed that reading can be fun for everyone, even collegiate athletes.

The event was inspiring for the athletes as well as the children. ALEX caught up with Darius Johnson-Wilson, a forward on the UH Hilo’s men’s basketball team. The kids not only enjoyed the reading, he says, but were eager to talk to him about the different teams he had played for, his favorite basketball team, and his own childhood.

KITV and KHON each aired a segment on the Vulcans’ participation in Read Across America Dr. Seuss Day that evening, giving the Hilo-based event statewide exposure.

ALEX is deeply grateful to Athletic Director Patrick Guillen and Director of Sports Information for allowing us behind the scenes of Dr. Seuss Day. We applaud the Athletic Department for giving their student-athletes the opportunity to give back to Hawai‘i’s keiki, and for allowing us to post pictures of them dressed as the Cat in the Hat.

Spirituality on the Bay

Monday, March 14, 2016, 10:19am by

Harald Barkhoff’s KES 302 Paddling Day

KES 302 Students at Bayfront

KES 302 class photo at Bayfront

On the Sunday of March 6, 2016, Harald Barkhoff took 52 students from his Kinesiology and Exercise 302 (KES 302) course, also known as “Sports and Spirituality,” outrigger canoeing in Hilo Bay. Using outrigger canoes made available by the University’s Canoe Club, Barkhoff and his students set out on what they later described as a “once in a lifetime experience.”

KES 302 Students Canoeing

Students paddling on the calm Bayfront water

Barkhoff says that the notion of sport has been connected with serving a higher purpose throughout history. Ancient Olympians dedicated their bodies to their gods; the spiritual experience of sport drives modern athletes to persevere and triumph. Barkhoff defines spirituality as that which gives students a sense of purpose, motivation, and identity.

The goal of “Paddling Day” is to create a “holistic learning environment” where students apply what they learn in class within a physical learning experience. Outrigger Canoeing is an ideal activity for three reasons: the sport imposes a sense of connectedness as it requires synchronized paddling by the six members of each crew; paddling has an important place in Hawaiian culture and history; and the activity takes place in the outdoors, on the ocean.

The Office of Applied Experiences (ALEX) was able to catch up with two students in the class, Christian Ruelas and Jessica Heade.

Group Photo on the Shore

Group photo on the shore

“Outrigger canoeing is very relatable to the study of Sports and Spirituality,” Ruelas says. “Outrigger canoeing provided us with a spiritual connectedness with each other and with a long-standing Hawaiian cultural tradition.”

Heade elaborates on the motivational power of that connection: “Even though my arms were killing me…I refused to stop paddling because of the connection I felt from being out on the water and with everyone in my canoe.”

Students intrigued by the idea of “Paddling Day” should know that the class is not all fun and games. KES 302 is a challenging upper-division course, and students will shortly be turning in a research paper on the role of Outrigger Canoeing in Hawaiian culture.

But for the students, the physical and mental exertions are worth it. As Heade puts it, “Everyone in my canoe talked of experiencing a natural high from just being together on the water in Hawai‘i. It was absolutely amazing.”