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Tag: Community Outreach

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.

UH asking for public input on Maunakea rules for public and commercial activities; hearings scheduled

The public is strongly encouraged to participate in the process as the testimony will be taken into consideration as the rules are finalized.

The University of Hawaiʻi invites the public to provide input on the proposed draft of the administrative rules that will govern public and commercial activities on UH-managed lands on Maunakea—Chapter 20–26, Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules. Testimony may be submitted in four ways up until the end of the last noticed hearing:

  1.  Online at the UH Government Relations website;
  2. Via email at;
  3. In writing to UH Government Relations Office, 2442 Campus Road, Administrative Services Building 1-101, Honolulu, HI, 96822; and/or
  4. In person at one of four public hearings:
  • September 24, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Sullivan Conference Center, UH Cancer Center, 701 Ilalo Street, Honolulu
  • September 25, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, 600 ʻImiloa Place, Hilo
  • September 26, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m., Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School, 68-1730 Hoʻoko Street, Waikoloa
  • September 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., ʻIke Leʻa—Room 144, UH Maui College, 310 West Kaʻahumanu Avenue, Kahului

The public is strongly encouraged to participate in the process as the testimony will be taken into consideration as the rules are finalized. The rules will then go to the UH Board of Regents for a publicly noticed decision making meeting that will also accept public testimony. If approved at that point, the rules will proceed thru the Administrative Rules process to the governor for final review and approval.

“The administrative rules provide the university with an important stewardship tool to more effectively protect the cultural, natural and scientific resources on Maunakea and provide measures to better ensure public health and safety,“ says UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai.

The draft rules were developed after extensive community outreach that included several publicly noticed meetings, open houses and consultation with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Small Business Regulatory Review Board. The draft rules as required by statute are consistent with rules currently in place for similar lands managed by DLNR, including forest and natural area reserves.

The UH Board of Regents approved the draft rules for public hearings on June 7, and Governor David Ige gave his approval to move ahead with public hearings in July 2018.

See UH System News release for more information and FAQs.

Message from the Chancellors on Hurricane Hector

Aloha University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Photo of hurricane blown palms, with the word "Ready" and a check mark in the left top cornerPlease be advised that as of 8:00 a.m. today, Aug. 7, 2018, the center of Hurricane Hector was located approximately 540 miles east-southeast of Hilo, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per  hour with occasional higher gusts. Forecasters note that hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles.

The storm is expected to pass approximately 165 miles south of Hawai‘i Island on Wednesday, Aug. 8. However, only a small deviation to the north of the forecast track could bring tropical storm force winds to Hawai‘i Island later tonight or tomorrow.

Possible impacts include:

  • Surf: Swells generated by Hector are forecast to reach southeast and east shores late today. A high surf warning has been issued for east-facing shores of Hawai‘i Island. This is in effect from noon today through 6:00 p.m. tomorrow.
  • Wind: Tropical storm force winds are possible across Hawai‘i Island late today and tomorrow.

As conditions warrant, we will send out announcements or alerts via email. To receive alerts on mobile phones, you may sign up online for UH Alert Notifications.

Additionally, information on hurricane preparedness can be found at the national public service website on Hurricanes.

We continue to monitor Hurricane Hector and are working closely with Hawai‘i County Civil Defense as well as other county and state agencies to remain prepared and informed.

Mahalo, and stay safe.

Marcia Sakai, Interim Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo
Rachel Solemsaas, Chancellor, Hawai‘i Community College

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center—Why it was created and what it represents

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center has a valuable role in our community by augmenting what school children and students learn in the classroom.

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i opened on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in 2006. ‘Imiloa, which means “to seek far” and is the Hawaiian word for both explore and explorer, is an educational outreach center primarily focusing on school children, students of all ages, families, and visitors to our island who are interested in learning more about the connections between Hawaiian cultural traditions and the science of astronomy.

But ‘Imiloa’s mission is not limited to astronomy. Much of what the center offers involves the exploration of earth and life sciences, fulfilling a valuable role in our community by augmenting what school children and students learn in the classroom by sharing the technology and resources at the exhibit hall and planetarium.

Earth science education

Field trips for school children from our island and around the state are on-going at ‘Imiloa throughout the year. This summer, groups of students saw presentations on the active volcano, the universe, and topics specific to their curriculum.

A group of 37 youth from the county-sponsored Pāhoa Summer Fun program toured the center and learned about Hawai‘i volcanoes in the interactive CyberCANOE theatre. CyberCANOE stands for “Cyber Enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment” and is a 3-D visual explosion of information.

The multi-screen CyberCANOE system was installed at ‘Imiloa in 2016, becoming the first tech system of its kind on Hawai‘i Island (the UH Hilo campus now has several CyberCANOE systems installed). This is the data sharing technology of the future and a marvelous way to inspire keiki to learn about Earth and the skies above us.

This special day was made possible by a new ‘Imiloa Lava Relief Fund supported by generous personal donations by staff of the Subaru Telescope in Hilo and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo. Mahalo!

Also related to the current lava flow, ‘Imiloa partnered with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Sundays in July to have park rangers at the center to talk story with the public and provide updates on the eruption.

Teacher education

Earlier this summer, in a wonderfully collaborative project with a UH Hilo School of Education teacher cohort, ‘Imiloa hosted the Culture and Science Integration Partnership Project, increasing community outreach by providing professional education to K-5 teachers. ‘Imiloa shared professional development resources with the teachers to support their integration of culture and science, a highly successful model of teaching to inspire our island keiki to study and learn.

This type of teacher education deepens ‘Imiloa’s impact in our local communities through the creation of mission relevant learning modules that can be used in formal classroom settings as well as in ʻImiloa informal education programs—all for the benefit of our island keiki.


In a new partnership with the UH Hilo Upward Bound program, ʻImiloa hosted a cohort of 20 students in an internship project called STEMulate where students work directly with local organizations for five weeks to help find solutions to real-world problems.

This summer, ʻImiloaʻs STEMulate cohort focused on the challenges in managing Maunakea: environmental, cultural, economic, and health and safety. The students studied with experts, conducted research, created exhibits, and gave final presentations. The recommendations made by the students about effective exhibit designs will help ‘Imiloa staff in current and future exhibit development.

This is a good example of ‘Imiloa providing a special place for the future leaders of our communities to practice their STEM skills and present scientifically-based recommendations on incorporating Hawaiian culture into education, an important component of ‘Imiloa and UH Hilo’s missions.

Maunakea Speaker Series

The Maunakea Speaker Series gives the community unprecedented access to the fascinating research taking place on Maunakea and other topics unique to Hawai‘i. The monthly presentation by local experts and others is a partnership between the Office of Maunakea Management, ‘Imiloa, and the UH Hilo Department of Physics and Astronomy. The series promotes understanding and collaboration across all sectors of the community—the kind of outreach that is central to the mission of UH Hilo.

July’s presentation included two Maunakea Scholars from Honokaʻa High School, Hokunani Sanchez and Keilani Steele. These two accomplished students shared the results of their 2017 research into dark nebula. Ms. Steele shared her second Maunakea Scholars project, observing the Draco Dwarf Galaxy at W.M. Keck Observatory.

Coming up at ‘Imiloa

‘Imiloa is planning two free, fun public events. On Aug. 26, the center is hosting the Second Annual ‘Ōhi‘a Love Fest, a lively festival made especially for kids and families. And on Oct. 28, a family event on Wayfinding will feature traditional open-ocean navigation without instrumentation.

You are invited to visit ‘Imiloa and celebrate the wonderful nexus of science and Native Hawaiian cultural traditions.


Marcia Sakai