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Genome editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna visits UH Hilo; Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosts reception, lecture, and private dinner

The lecture was the first of the Rose and Raymond Tseng Distinguished Lecture Series at UH Hilo. The series is supported by an endowed fund started by UH Hilo Chancellor Emerita Rose Tseng.

Marcia Sakai, Jennifer Doudna and Rose Tseng at dinner table with lava wall background.
(Left to right) Following Prof. Doudna’s lecture, UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosted Prof. Doudna and UH Hilo Chancellor Emerita Rose Tseng for a private dinner at Hilo landmark Ken’s House of Pancakes. Photo by Bob Douglas/UH Hilo Stories, click to enlarge.

Jennifer Doudna, professor of molecular and cell biology and chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, gave a lecture titled “CRISPR Systems: Nature’s Toolkit for Genome Editing” on Monday at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Jennifer Doudna on stage at podium.
Jennnifer Doudna gives lecture at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center on Sept. 17, 2018. See more photos of lecture.

Doudna gained international renown when she and her colleagues at UC Berkeley were the first to develop the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology that enables scientists to edit the DNA of any organism. Based on a naturally occurring process used by bacteria to fight viruses, the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) system provides scientists with a tool to make precise changes to the DNA of the genes, thereby modifying the function of cells in specific ways.

This visit was a special homecoming for Prof. Doudna. She was born in Washington, DC, and moved to Hilo with her parents when she was seven years old. She is a 1981 graduate of Hilo High School. Her father, Martin Doudna, was an English professor at UH Hilo, and her mother, Dorothy Doudna, taught history at Hawai‘i Community College.

Rose and Raymond Tseng Distinguished Lecture Series

The lecture was the first of the Rose and Raymond Tseng Distinguished Lecture Series at UH Hilo. The series is supported by an endowed fund started by UH Hilo Chancellor Emerita Rose Tseng.

Before the talk, Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosted a reception for Prof. Doudna and Chancellor Emerita Tseng. Photos by Bob Douglas, click to enlarge.

Jennifer Doudna and Rose Tseng.
(L-R) Prof. Doudna and Chancellor Emerita Rose Tseng.

Following the talk, Interim Chancellor Sakai hosted Prof. Doudna and Chancellor Emeritus Tseng at a private dinner at Hilo landmark Ken’s House of Pancakes.

 

About the photographer: Bob Douglas is a local artist, photographer, and sometimes part-time student who volunteers his photography skills to the Office of the Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories.

Update on Sept 10 UH Hilo Alert

From the UH Hilo Office of the Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs:

Aloha,

This morning UH Hilo Campus Security received a report that an individual on campus was overheard making a threat of gun violence. The alleged threat was not specific to any person or the campus. At the time, the alleged individual was reported to be walking towards the Library. UH Hilo Security had a general description of the alleged individual and proceeded to the Library to investigate. While there was an alleged threat of gun violence, there was insufficient information to determine the credibility of the threat.

The Hawai‘i Police Department was notified of the allegation as a precautionary measure and a UH Alert was sent to the UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College campuses [text and email to those signed up for UH Alert]. UH Hilo Security and the HPD followed through with the person who made the initial report and were able to identify the alleged individual, who was taken for further questioning by the HPD.

While UH Hilo did not consider this to be an Active Shooter event, we acknowledge that this was a traumatic event for some on our campus. Individuals may experience a variety of responses to this type of event on campus, and are encouraged to seek support if they are in distress.

Counseling Services are available for students Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., see contact information online.

You may also contact:

  • 24 Hour Crisis Text Line 741-741. Text “Hello” or “Aloha.”
  • Crisis Line of Hawai‘i 24 Hour Support at 1-800-753-6879.
  • 24 Hour National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.
  • Text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
  • TTY at 1-800-846-8517.

Additional resources are available at UH Hilo Counseling Services and the Disaster Distress Helpline.

Employees may access the free Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (808) 543-8445 or toll-free at (800) 944-3571. The EAP provides confidential, short-term, professional counseling to employees.  Additional information on the EAP can be found online.

Additional information about what to do in case of incidents on campus may be found online at the UH Hilo Emergency Operations Plan website.

Contact info for UH Hilo Campus Security, and more information at the Campus Security website.

Mahalo for everyone’s cooperation today and attentiveness to safety on campus.

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Giving students an environment where they can thrive

In response to student requests for more recreational areas and covered outdoor gathering places on campus, several projects were completed over the summer.

Two students playing ball on the new court.
An old outdoor basketball court was refurbished and renamed Pu‘uli‘i (“the hill”) complete with an area to grill food and hang out at covered picnic tables with solar powered recharging stations, USB ports, and Wi-Fi access.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo community starts the fall semester with exciting new amenities for students to enjoy and several capital improvements in the works.

Places for students to gather

In response to student requests for more recreational areas and covered outdoor gathering places on campus, several projects were completed over the summer.

An old outdoor basketball court was refurbished and renamed Pu‘uli‘i (“the hill”) complete with an area to grill food and hang out at covered picnic tables with solar powered recharging stations, USB ports, and Wi-Fi access. Several other recharging stations were built near main hubs around campus: the Student Services building, the College of Business and Economics, and at bus shelters near the UH Hilo Bookstore and the main entrance to UH Hilo campus.

The projects were supported by the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Administrative Affairs.

The tradition of doing summer projects was started by Kolin Kettleson, retired UH Hilo director of auxiliary services, and Gene Harada, a professor at the Hawai‘i Community College carpentry program. Construction is done by carpentry students, and over the years, the collaborative effort has provided a wealth of cost effective campus improvements at UH Hilo while also giving the carpentry students valuable hands-on summer work experience.

There are also several capital improvement projects underway:

Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy

Everything is on track with the new Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy building. Construction began in Sept. 2016 and is about 75 percent complete with a target completion date of May 2019. The project was extended with the allocation of additional funds in FY 2018 to use for audio/visual updates to the building. The updates required some additional design work so that installation can be fully integrated with the original design. Metal roofing installation is ongoing. We are truly looking forward to completion of this project!

Air conditioning and other improvements

Our Life Science Building complex is being substantially renovated with roofing, ventilation and air conditioning, electrical, and lab renovations. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s AC system is also currently under renovation to replace non-working components—this includes the planetarium, exhibit hall, main office, and restaurant. Likewise, College Hall is getting new air conditioning units, a project that will start later this fall.

A larger AC project is the Chilled Water Plant renovation that includes the replacement of the chiller and pump system for a main AC unit serving Mookini Library, Edith Kanaka‘ole Hall, the College of Business and Economics building, and Hawai‘i Community College Business Education and Technology and Computing Center. This project also involves repairs to the chilled water loop that runs throughout campus. The projected completion is later this month.

Sustainability

An AC project at Hale Alahonua residence hall is the first of its kind for our campus—the project will include solar power in the design, with a battery storage system, so essentially it will be a self-contained net-zero system. The project was appropriated $6 million by the State Legislature.

Two other sustainable projects—the Energy Storage Project and the Green Waste to Energy Project—involve the construction of an Energy Storage Device to manage peak electrical demand. Work is taking place near the Sciences and Technology Building. The project began in August 2017 and is ongoing, expected to be completed in the next couple of months.

UH Hilo is already a leader in the UH System on sub-metering and baseline data recording, bi-level lighting, energy requirements in design contracts, a reinvestment account, and Hawai‘i Energy Rebates, so the solar AC, Energy Storage, and Green Waste to Energy projects keep us on the leading edge of creating a truly sustainable campus.

Performing arts

Repairs and renovations are underway at the portable buildings that house music classes and the testing center, with completion expected this month. Auxiliary Services has already moved the music rehearsal room back into the building, and will work with the music faculty on the remaining moves.

Maunakea

On Maunakea, the Office of Maunakea Management is overseeing renovation and infrastructure improvements. The ongoing project provides design and construction for infrastructure improvements and renovation within UH’s managed lands on Maunakea, including mid-level facilities at Hale Pohaku, the summit access road, and the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. A current project is site improvements to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center’s parking area.

I mua!

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor, UH Hilo

Message from Interim Chancellor Sakai: Mahalo to UH Hilo staff and administrators for service during Hurricane Lane

Thank you all for being part of the UH Hilo ‘ohana and for our shared commitments to each other.

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.Aloha,

On behalf of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, I’d like to express our deepest appreciation to all the staff and administrators who pulled together and worked tirelessly before, during, and after the campus closure and enabled UH Hilo to be up and operational once again.

The positive manner and teamwork by you and others to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff and the timely communication updates helped to alleviate the anxiety that such an emergency can create.

Thank you all for being part of the UH Hilo ‘ohana and for our shared commitments to each other.

Mahalo,

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

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