Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and Math - PRISM

PRISM Fellows

Past PRISM Fellows

Riley Bernard

Riley Bernard Education History:
B.S. in Environmental Studies: Science Focus (Minors in Biology and History), 2007, Linfield College, McMinnville, OR

Graduate Research:

Dietary Overlap: Links between the invasive Coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus__coqui) and the endemic Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus__cinereus__semotus) on the Island of Hawaiʻi

GK-12 Project:
Outreach and communication

I competed in varsity track and field for over 8 years and was ranked 25th in the nation in the Division 3 400-meter hurdles in 2006.

Colin Phifer

Colin Phifer Education History:
B.S. in Environmental Biology, 2006, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

Graduate Research:

Plant reproductive success and pollinator community assemblages in a fragmented landscape.

GK-12 Project:
Outreach and communication--making sure PRISM continues and supporting teachers and students throughout the Big Island.

I once worked as a waiter in a dinner theatre where I wore a swan costume! It's time for salad!

Lori Tango

Lori Education History:
B.A. in Biology, 2004. University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Hilo, HI

**Graduate Research:
** The effect of salinity on egg and early-larval survival and growth of the orange-black Hawaiian damselfly.

GK-12 Project:
Working with Heather Hand at the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences, Kindergarten - Bugs and Insects.

Learning new dance moves is a fun way to pass the time.

Whitney Nekoba

whitney picture Education History:
B.A. in Biology, Secondary Teacher Certification in Biology and Mathematics, 2008. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Graduate Research:
Investigating a molecular basis for type-II diabetes in Native Hawaiian populations.

GK-12 Project:
Working with Casey Hanoa and Michele Sasaki-Cann at Keaukaha Elementary, Third grade – Invasive Animals of Hawaiʻi.

Fun Facts:
I am an avid swimmer and overall water enthusiast. I like to practice yoga and I love to go shopping. My dogs, Hurley and Jomonyoshi, keep me sane and active.

Sierra Marie Tobiason

Sierra Education History:
B.S. in Agriculture (specializing in Aquaculture), 2006, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Hilo, HI

Graduate Research:
Investigating Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) in East Hawaiʻi.

GK-12 Project:
Working with Noe Taum and Lynn Fujii at Keaukaha Elementary, 6th grade – Hawaiian Open Ocean Part II: primary producers to marine megafauna.

Fun Facts:
I enjoy playing bociball on the beach, bodyboarding, SCUBA diving, and hula hooping.

Jon Eldon

Jon Education History:
B.S. in Biology, 2005. Stanford University, Stanford, CA
B.A. in Philosophy 2005. Stanford University, Stanford CA

Graduate Research:
Studying genetic and behavioral population divergence of an endemic picture-winged fly, Drosophila sproati.

GK-12 Project:
Working with Steve Zeiher and Kristen Miyazona at Waiakea Intermediate, 7th grade – Freshwater/Watersheds.

Fun Facts:
I like talking story and exploring the Pacific half of the world.

Anya Tagawa

Anya Education History:
A.S Forest TEAM (Tropical Forest Ecosystems and Agro Forestry Management), Hawaiʻi Community College.
B.S. in Agro-Ecology Program, 2008. University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Hilo, HI.

Graduate Research:
Phenology in Native Hawaiian Lowland Forest.

GK-12 Project:
Working with Donna Foster and Lurl Abgayani, Keaukaha Elementary School, 4th grade - Hawaiʻi’s Forests.

Fun Facts:
I love plants. I like to photograph, identify, eat, and befriend as many as possible.

Megan Lamson

Megan lamson Picture Education History:
B.S. in Marine Biology, 2005. University of California, Santa Cruz, CA

Graduate Research:
An investigation of juvenile fishes at four bays: Bridging the gap between conservation, research, and communities in Ka'u, Hawaiʻi.

GK-12 Project:
Working with Kristin Tarnas at Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy in Waimea and with LeeAnn Oshiro at Waikoloa Elementary, Third Grade - Life structures of ocean grazers

Fun Facts:
I love avocados, drywalling, swimming in the rain, and dreaming in spanish.

Springer Kaye

springer Education History:
B.A. in Environmental Studies from Pomona College, Claremont, CA

Graduate Research:
Exploring ways to get a Master’s Degree while raising 3 kids. Limiting factors in recruitment of mid-canopy wet forest trees—why aren’t there any keiki?

Working With Denise Russel and Lynn, second grade teachers at Waikoloa Elementary School in developing a native plants-based curriculum.

Fun Facts:
My last job involved jumping out of helicopters. I have three kids, age 2, 4, and 5, and I’m married to the Hilo Intermediate ISP teacher—so watch out!

Bobby Hsu

Bobby Hsu Education History:
B.S. Biology, 1999. University of California at Davis.

Graduate Research:
Investigation of maternal antibody against avian malaria in Hawaiʻi ʻamakihi.

Gk-12 Project:
Placed with Diane, Kathy, Diana, Mary, Denise, and Kuʻulei to work together on the development and implementation of the 4-week marine curriculum for Kindergarten,a Rocky Intertidal curriculum in G1, and the implementation of the already-developed Sandy Shores curriculum in G2.

Fun Facts:
What’s for dinner?

Jackie Gaudioso

Jackie picture Education History:
B.S. 2004. Providence College, Providence, RI.

Graduate Research:
Evaluation the variation of plumage coloration in Hawaiʻi ʻamakihi (Hemignathus virens) using spectrophotometry.

GK-12 Project:
Working with Kindergarten (Diane Duke), 1st grade, (Kathy Johnson, Diana Belmudes, and Mary Z.), and 2nd grade (Denise Russell and Kuʻulei Vickery) at Waikaloa Elementary. Curriculum: Coral (Kindergarten), Rocky intertidal zone and insects (1st grade), and Sandy Shores (2nd grade).

Fun Facts:
I am an avid pez collector and have almost 300 dispersers (shhh! Don’t laugh!). I also enjoy surfing, birding, and cooking.

Nick DeBoer

Nick DeBoer Education History:
B.S. in Integrative Biology, 2005.  University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL.

Graduate Research:
Evolution of reproductive isolation in Metrosideros polymorpha (ʻOhia) along an elevational gradient on East Hawaiʻi Island.

GK-12 Project:
Sylvie Bright, Waikōloa Elementary, 6th grade, native plants.

Fun facts:
I enjoy being incredible at flying disc based sports and also enjoy sugar. I am also quite the cook if you're ever lucky enough to experience it. I also like Chicago sports teams, except the White Sox, and Illinois basketball.

Raymond McGuire

Raymond Thesis Project: Does the invasive tree, Falcataria moluccana, facilitate high population densities of the invasive tree frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui?

Research description: I tagged and released coqui frogs at two forested sites in lower Puna to see if the nitrogen-fixing capability of the albizia tree had an indirect effect of increasing the population density of the coqui frog.

Where are you now?: I am currently working for the DLNR/DOFAW as the Coqui Control Program Coordinator. We spray state lands in residential areas and spray natural areas across the island.

Fun facts: I still dream of being a superhero.

Highlight of PRISM: Having the students watch a video on coral reefs and almost every one of them identifying what type of coral was being shown- "Mushroom coral!", "Table coral!"...

Blake McNaughton

Blake Thesis Project: A biological and social comparison of opelu fisheries in West Hawaiʻi.

Research description: I worked with several local opelu fishermen to better describe the biology and sociology of the local opelu fishery.

Where are you now?: I still live in Hilo with my beautiful wife and wrinkly dog. I work for Kamehameha Schools outreach program teaching science and literacy.

Fun facts: Bees can smell fear.

Highlight of PRISM: Meeting interesting fellows and teachers.

Leayne Patch-Highfill

Leayne Thesis Project: Estimating Genetic Diversity of Palila (Loxioides bailleui) and Familial Relationships of Helper Males.

Research description: The critically endangered Palila (Loxioides bailleui) found only on Mauna Kea, Hawaiʻi is one of the last surviving "finch-billed" Hawaiian honeycreepers, and currently the most actively studied forest bird in Hawaiʻi. Due to habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals, and avian disease, Palila occupy a fraction of their historical range. Estimating the level of genetic diversity within the Palila population could give researchers insight as to how likely Palila can adapt to their changing environment. In this study, a modified Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) protocol was used to generate 312 polymorphic loci in 172 Palila. In addition,Palila males (helpers) have been observed at nests of presumed monogamous pairs helping feed incubating females and offspring. Estimating the relatedness of helper males may help determine whether Palila are developing cooperative breeding as a strategy to better their chances of survival in a changing environment.

Where are you now?: I am currently working as a Literacy Resource Teacher for the Kamehameha Literacy Instruction and Support Division working out of Mountain View Elementary in a community outreach program. This program is a special collaboration between Kamehameha Schools and the DOE. I am teaching literacy with the use of science content for grades K-3 and using the curriculum building skills I learned as a PRISM Fellow.

Fun facts: Once the stresses of graduate school were lifted, I became pregnant in August and we are now anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first little love bundle this May. My cat Max (the original love of my life and love bundle) will soon have his little life turned upside down. Although baby is on the way, I still dream of traveling to distant lands and try to cook new recipes whenever I get a chance.

Highlight of PRISM: Hot Tuna and long van rides talking about ono recipes. Other highlights include building great relationships with the other fellows, faculty and my partner teacher, Jessica Schwarz and learning new skills that have helped me in with my current career. PRISM allowed me to be in the position that I am currently working and without that experience I would not have the chance I have today to be a positive influence on Hawaiʻi’s Keiki.

Steve Souder

Steve Thesis Project: Host specificity and biology of Syphraea uberabensis (Coleoptera:Chrysomelidae) for the potential biological control of Tibouchina herbacea (Melastomataceae) in Hawaiʻi.

Research description: This project was conducted under the guidance of USDA Forest Service as a means to investigate possible control of Tibouchina herbacea with the South American flea beetle Syphraea uberabensis. The potential host range of S. uberabensis was assessed using simultaneous no-choice testing on 35 plant species in 11 families. S. uberabensis was not mono-specific to the target weed, but oligophagous towards several species in the family Melastomataceae. Its host range appeared to be acceptable for Hawaiʻi, where there are no native or endemic species of Melastomataceae, and many are listed as noxious weeds.

Where are you now?: I am currently a Biological Science Technician (Insects) with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center here in Hilo. I am currently working on research projects to help control Oriental, Melon, and Mediterranean fruit flies in Hawaiʻi and abroad.

Fun facts: My beautiful wife Jessie and I are expecting (had!) our first child in May!!!

Highlight of PRISM: The kids of course, that is the privilege of working as a PRISM Fellow.

Lauren Pagarigan

Lauren Thesis Project: HSP70 gene and protein expression in the Hawaiian coral, P. meandrina, exposed to long-term nutrients and elevated sea water temperature.

Research description: Increased sea surface temperatures have severely impacted coral reefs around the world, but the Hawaiian Islands have not yet been hit hard by warm bodies of water and massive amounts of coral bleaching. Inshore coral reefs in Hawaiʻi are however often exposed to elevated amounts of inorganic nutrients, especially nitrogen. This happens because coastal coral reefs of the main Hawaiian Islands are chronically affected by land activities more immediately than other locations because of the islands’ high gradient geography. This study investigated the use of Heat Shock Protein 70 gene and protein expression, in addition to the density of zooxanthellae, to examine the multiple stress event of long-term ammonium exposure followed by elevated sea water temperature on reef building corals. Corals exposed to long-term nutrients and elevated sea water temperature expressed more HSP70 and had less zooxanthellae than corals exposed to elevated sea water temperature alone. Therefore, results from this study demonstrate corals in nutrient- exposed reefs are more susceptible to periods of elevated sea water temperature than corals in an oligotrophic environment.

Where are you now?: Hilo town

Fun facts: I love to live to eat, than eat to live.

Highlight of PRISM: Good friends, teaching/lesson planning experience, and HOT TUNA!

Michelle Norman

MIchelle Thesis Project: An invasive producer (Albizia) and predator (Coqui frogs) alter decomposition processes in a Hawaiian tropical forest.

Roland Frayne

Roland Thesis Project: Examining the comparative foraging proficiency of captive-bred and wild palila (Loxioides bailleui), an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper.