Stories of Excellence 2013-14

What is "excellence?" Excellence are these students, faculty, and alumni, who embody UH Hilo's strategic goal – to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead in their professional and personal lives. A quality education at UH Hilo is more than a promise, it's illustrated in the accomplishments of our students and distinguished alumni. Here is just a sampling of the wide range of achievements that members of our UH Hilo ‘ohana have accomplished throughout the year. Achieving excellence is an opportunity for every student at UH Hilo. We invite you to join us in celebrating these UH Hilo Stories of Excellence...

UH Hilo Students

Pharmacy students

Student pharmacists who worked on the PIMSC project (front row, from left): Ann Txakeeyang, Brianne Gustilo, Amanda Wendel, and Jed Sana. In the back row are Katherine Anderson, PharmD, PIMSC Advisor and Assistant Professor and Leslie Rodriguez, PharmD, Preceptor and Clinical Education Coordinator. Missing from the photo are students Shanele Shimabuku, Tracy Nakama, Naoto Oki and Davis Hanai.

Student Pharmacists - UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy

A team of student pharmacists from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo attained a top spot in the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Student Community-Engaged Service Awards, sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals. Their award-winning project is the Pacific Islander Mobile Screening Clinic (PIMSC), which seeks to improve public health and access to people through the use of health fairs and wellness clinics. Students conduct diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, as well as provide wellness and lifestyle counseling and referrals to accessible health care services.

Read more information about the Pharmacy program at UH Hilo.


Jodie Schulten, Alex Wang and Corie YangerJodie Schulten & Alex Wang - Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) graduate students

Two UH Hilo students from the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) graduate program have received various awards for their outstanding research.

Past UH Hilo Alumni Scholarship recipient Jodie Schulten, garnered the highly competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Award. Her research project is the first to spatially quantify the light environment in Hawai‘i’s native rainforests, which will have immediate implications for lowland wet forest restoration.

Alex Wang has received the E. Alexander Bergstrom Memorial Research Award, Paul A. Steward Award, American Ornithological Union Student Membership Award and the Hawai‘i Audubon Society Research Award. His interest lies in the avian conservation of Hawai‘i’s native birds, with current research focusing on reestablishing the ‘Akohekohe bird population on Maui.

Dr. Rebecca Ostertag and Dr. Patrick Hart are their professors at UH Hilo.

From left to right: TCBES graduate students Jodie Schulten, Alex Wang and Corie Yanger (featured in our 2012-13 Stories of Excellence campaign).

Read more information about the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) graduate program at UH Hilo.


Elyssa Rae-Ann CorreiaElyssa Rae-Ann Correia - Political Science student

A political science student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo was awarded the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Elyssa Rae-Ann Correia, from Hilo, was one of 54 scholarship recipients from across the country to win.

Correia is involved with various community organizations; with youth advocacy as a career goal, Elyssa intends to serve as legal representation for Penn Hawai‘i Youth Foundation. This local non-profit organization encourages positive values in Hawai‘i's youth through martial arts, fostering the Hawaiian ideals of humility, respect, and 'ohana. Correia is also a member of the 2012 UH Hilo Model United Nations Team and the president of the Model UN Club.

The Truman Scholarship honors the legacy of President Harry S. Truman and provides up to $30,000 in funding to students pursuing graduate degrees in public service fields. Each year since 1977-78, hundreds of college juniors compete for roughly 60 awards. The rigorous selection process requires candidates have a strong record of public service, as well as a policy proposal that addresses a particular issue in society.

“Elyssa is very deserving of this award,” said Dr. Sarah Marusek, assistant professor of political science who served as Correia’s advisor. “As a Truman Scholar and outstanding student at UH Hilo, she is an accomplished young woman with a bright future.”

Read more information about the Political Science program at UH Hilo.

Source: UH Hilo News Release


Mark TokuukeMark Tokuuke - College of Business & Economics (CoBE) student

A student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Business and Economics (CoBE) recently finished first in his industry in the international version of the Business Strategy Game (BSG). Mark Tokuuke was invited to take part in the competition following his first-in-class performance in MGT 490 (Strategic Management), which is CoBE’s required capstone class.

The BSG is a popular simulation used by both undergraduate and MBA programs. Over the last 12 months, the game has been used by 48,314 students in 2,729 classes at 566 campus locations in 51 different countries.

In the Business Strategy Game, students are assigned to operate an athletic footwear company that produces and markets both branded and private-label footwear, competing in the global market arena with up to 12 companies in a single industry grouping.

The players are responsible for assessing market conditions, determining how to respond to actions of competitors, forging a long-term direction and strategy for the company, forecasting sales volumes and making related decisions.

Each company’s performance is based on a balanced scorecard that includes brand image, earnings per share, return on equity investment, stock price appreciation, and credit rating.

Players who finish first in their institution’s BSG simulation exercise advance to the next level by receiving an invitation to participate in the Best-Strategy Invitational (BSI): a global competition among high-performing BSG companies from around the world.

Tokuuke’s team "K" competed within an industry that included teams from California, Nevada, Malaysia, Canada, Greece, Mexico, and Nigeria. He finished first in his industry by earning a perfect score of 100 in performance plus six bonus points for accurate forecasting.

“Mark approached the game very systematically. He put in the time to understand the algorithms, anticipated the likely moves of his competitors, and consistently planned and executed his strategy,” said Dr. Emmeline de Pillis, UH Hilo professor of management. “The strategy class is where the student has the opportunity to use everything they’ve been exposed to up to this point, and Mark was really able to show what he's learned in the program. Congratulations to Mark on a job well done!”

Read more information about the College of Business & Economics (CoBE) program at UH Hilo.

Source: UH Hilo News Release

UH Hilo Faculty

Diane BarrettDiane Barrett - Associate Professor of Education

UH Hilo Associate Professor of Education,
Diane Barrett, focuses her research on math education, including “math anxiety.” She uses relevant hands-on learning techniques to allow others to see the beauty in mathematics that surrounds them. Dr. Barrett provides professional development for kindergarten through grade 12 teachers in mathematics aligned with the Common Core State Standards. She is also collaborating with two other UH Hilo colleagues and the Department of Education on high school math curriculum for the state of Hawai‘i.

Read more information about the School of Education at UH Hilo.


Andre BachmannAndré S. Bachmann - Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences,
André S. Bachmann, is one of the inventors of a proteasome inhibitor drug, a new class of compounds potentially useful for anti-cancer and other therapeutic uses. Bachmann's research is providing new insights into neuroblastoma and other pediatric forms of cancer. His anti-cancer drug studies have advanced from "bench to bedside" into phase I and II clinical trials offered at over 14 children's hospitals throughout the United States, including the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu.

Read more information about the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo.


Mahavir ChouguleMahavir Chougule - Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences,
Mahavir Chougule, is co-inventor with Dr. André Bachmann of a nanocarrier drug delivery system, which aims to improve cancer treatment by providing targeted and tumor-specific delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs. He has received Hawaii Community Foundation's Medical Research and Leahi grants, which are focused on the use of targeted nanocarriers for treatment of lung cancer and mesothelioma respectively.

Read more information about the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo.


Dana-Lynn Koomoa-LangeDana-Lynn T. Koomoa-Lange - Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences,
Dana-Lynn T. Koomoa-Lange, received the "NCI Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to Promote Diversity (K01)," a prestigious five-year career development grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Koomoa-Lange's research, entitled "MYCN-induced calcium and magnesium signaling regulates neuroblastoma progression," will concentrate on finding an effective treatment strategy for advanced stage neuroblastoma (NB), an extra-cranial pediatric cancer. "This study may identify new biomarkers for advanced stage NB, and reveal novel targets for the development of more effective chemotherapeutic drugs," she stated in her proposal.

Read more information about the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo.


Lorna TsutsumiLorna Tsutsumi - Professor of Entomology

Professor of Entomology, Lorna Tsutsumi, is currently focused on honey bees, a key component in food sustainability because of its vital pollination activities. Especially important on the Big Island (where bees are under attack by the varroa mite and small hive beetle), Dr. Tsutsumi has developed new hive and trap designs to promote their health and wellness. She also created Lava Bee Products, made from the honey and wax extracted at the UH Hilo Farm apiary. Dr. Tsutsumi partnered with Chef Alan Wong to launch the “Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong” program, where the public can adopt a beehive at the UH Hilo Farm to promote the honey bee industry and local solutions for honey bee productivity.

Dr. Tsutsumi received the 2012 Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation, recognizing creativity in teaching, scholarship and artistic production. In 2010, she was the recipient of the UH Hilo Chancellor's Pūlama ‘Ike Award, presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to developing and promoting the mission and spirit of UH Hilo.

Read more information about the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at UH Hilo.


Norman AranconNorman Arancon - Associate Professor of Horticulture

Associate Professor Norman Arancon pioneered research in vermicomposting, which utilizes earthworm-processed organic wastes to increase the growth and yields of plants, as well as suppress pests and diseases. His studies also revealed that vermicompost teas (or water extracts), can potentially have the same effects. Dr. Arancon’s research is helping the local agricultural industry to generate a renewable source of organic nutrients, reducing their reliance on imported fuel-based fertilizers and pesticides through the recycling of organic wastes being diverted from our landfills.

Dr. Arancon has served as an industry consultant for numerous projects in California, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio, and many others. Looking to the future, he wants to extend his research into disease and pest problems associated with the production of coffee and organic ginger, two very important crops on the island of Hawai‘i.

"I also hope to incorporate the technology in hydroponics and aquaponics and increase production of vermicomposts in larger scale to support agriculture and food independence in Hawai‘i," he says.

Read more information about the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at UH Hilo.


Maria HawsMaria Haws - Associate Professor of Aquaculture and Director of the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC)

Dr. Maria Haws, Associate Professor of Aquaculture and Director of the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC), provides technical assistance to the Hawai‘i aquaculture industry.

Dr. Haws has conducted research for three years with industry partner, Goose Point Oysters and Hawaiian Shellfish, developing new methods to grow oyster larvae and microalgae under East Hawai‘i conditions. Their success led to a $1 million investment in the hatchery and the employment of local researchers and students, who help provide oyster seed to farmers in the Pacific Northwest (impacted by ocean acidification). The PACRC oyster hatchery and research efforts are also providing oyster seed to Hawaiian fishponds, jump starting the Hawai‘i oyster industry and Hawaiian aquaculture development.

Dr. Haws is also researching the life cycle of limu kohu, a native species of edible red seaweed, which will potentially yield new cultural and ecological information on this high-value aquaculture product.

Read more information about the Aquaculture Program at UH Hilo.

UH Hilo Alumni

UH Hilo is proud to have alumni who are distinguished and outstanding leaders in their respective professions. Our excellent alumni play an increasingly pivotal role in helping to shape and improve our community, our island, our state, and our future.

Bishop Eric MatsumotoHonorable Judge Ronald Ibarra

Judge Ibarra was first appointed to the Third Circuit Court in 1989. In 1992 he was appointed Chair of the Committee on Probate Rules and Uniform Probate Code by Chief Justice Herman Lum. Under his leadership, the committee compiled an admirable record in the areas of probate, trust and guardianship. In 2000, Judge Ibarra took the leadership in establishing a Drug Court program for the Third Circuit. He successfully implemented Adult and Juvenile Drug Court programs that have proven to be practical and compassionate to Big Island citizens with substance abuse problems.

Judge Ibarra was the recipient of the Jurist of the Year Award from the Chief Justice, Peacemaker Award from the Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center, Inc., Progress Award in Law and Jurisprudence from the United Filipino Council of Hawai‘i, Recognition of Law and Jurisprudence Award from the State House and Senate, Big Island Mayor's Healing Award, Distinguished Service Award from the University of Santa Clara School of Law, Outstanding Volunteer Community Service Award from the West Hawai‘i Rotary Club, Distinguished Alumni Award from UH Hilo and Hawa‘ii State Bar Association's C. Frederick Schutte Award for Outstanding Meritorious Service to the legal community in the State of Hawai‘i.

In spite of his tremendous work load, Judge Ibarra has been active in numerous committees, public schools and community organizations. He has even managed to serve in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve where he attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


Valerie TakataValerie Takata

Valerie Takata is the State of Hawai‘i, DOE Complex Area Superintendent for the Hilo, Laupahoehoe and Waiakea District. Prior to her appointment in February 2002, Takata served as Hawai‘i District Superintendent and Deputy District Superintendent.

During her administration at Keonepoko Elementary School, she was selected as the State of Hawai’i’s National Distinguished Principal and became district nominee recipient of the Blue Ribbon School award. Takata is a strong supporter of the highly successful “Journey Through the Universe” program, and a pioneer of the Huiana Student Internship Initiative, which is the state’s only islandwide internship program.

Takata has been credited with co-founding a landmark business-education partnership, establishing an alliance between businesses, the community, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and the Department of Education. She is a recipient of the UH Hilo Distinguished Alumni Award.


Larry KimuraBarry Taniguchi

Barry Taniguchi is truly a class act, and a tough one to follow. As President and CEO of KTA Super Stores, he was recognized by Pacific Business News as one of the 25 most influential Hawai'i business executives of the past 50 years.

Barry is known for his passion in giving back to the community, his involvement in numerous service organizations throughout the state of Hawai'i, and his unconditional support for the University of Hawai'i. He is a past recipient of the UH Hilo Distinguished Alumni Award and established UH Hilo's first permanent faculty endowment, with the Taniguchi Memorial Fund.

Barry's years of service and contribution to the community has not gone unnoticed. In 1993, he was awarded a Public Service Award by the Hawai‘i Society of CPAs and a Hawai‘i District Award by the Business Education Partnership. In 1997, the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce honored him with the Humanitarian of the Year Award. In 2003, he received the Hall of Honor award from the University of Hawai‘i, College of Business Administration, and in 2004 he was the recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus award from the University of Hawai‘i Alumni Association.