Dr. Becky Ostertag’s publication wins Bradshaw Medal

Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 6:11pm by

The Society for Ecological Restoration recently presented the Bradshaw Medal to two outstanding papers published in its peer-reviewed journal, Restoration Ecology. Named for famed British ecologist and restoration pioneer Tony Bradshaw, the award honors scientific papers that advance the field of restoration ecology in a significant way. Susan Cordell, Rebecca Ostertag, Jené Michaud, and Laura Warman published “Quandaries of a decadelong restoration experiment trying to reduce invasive species: beat them, join them, give up, or start over?”  Their study investigated the most effective way to reforest native species in Hawai’i to recover biodiversity.  Ostertag is a member of the Biology department and Michaud is a member of the Geology department at UH Hilo, while Cordell and Warman are affiliated with the USDA Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry.

UH Hilo students featured in the University of Hawaiʻi News for the use of cutting-edge technologies to study invasive mosquitoes

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 12:41am by

Read the article and watch the video to learn more about how UH Hilo graduate student, Jared Nishimoto, and undergraduates under the supervision of Dr. Jolene Sutton are developing genetic technologies that will help control invasive mosquitoes in Hawaiʻi.

UH Hilo faculty, Dr. Matt Knope, is using his own classroom to examine best practices in undergraduate research experiences

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 12:38am by

CURE (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences) have proven effective for a wide-variety of student learning objectives and Matt Knope, along with his collaborators at Arizona State, are investigating which model of scientific inquiry results in better outcomes for students. Read the full article for more information.

Dr. Li Tao Receives NIH INBRE IV Junior Investigators Award

Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 6:15pm by

Assistant Professor Li Tao has received an INBRE IV Junior Investigators (JIs) Award for his project, “Structural and Functional Analysis of Centralspindlin”. The INBRE IV JIs Award will provide substantial funding for up to 3 years at $100,000/year in direct costs. The Tao’s lab will center its research on the molecular mechanism through which centralspindlin regulates cytokinesis. Abnormal cell division (mitosis) causes cancer. Understanding the mechanism of cell division and its regulation has thus become a key to finding cures for cancer. Cytokinesis is the last gate to control cell division. Cytokinesis is dominated by a motor complex, centralspindlin. However, little is known of the structure and function of centralspindlin. This project will address a significant knowledge gap on the regulation of cytokinesis. It will also provide clues for the development of new anti-cancer therapies.

In photo: The Tao Lab (2018). L-R: Li Tao, Joshua Lawcock, Chelsea Blaquera, Marilyn Yamamoto, Kathleen Shon, and Jamae Balagot.

UH Hilo genetics research team releases unprecedented genome assembly for endangered Hawaiian crow

Tuesday, August 14, 2018, 10:30pm by

The extraordinary findings of a genetic research team at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo studying the ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow), one of the world’s most endangered bird species, are published in the current issue of the journal Genes. Biologist Jolene Sutton, an assistant professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo who specializes in evolutionary genetics, led the team of UH Hilo colleagues Martin Helmkampf, a research scientist with the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program, and Renee Bellinger of the Conservation Genomics Research Group, along with collaborators from the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, San Diego Zoo Global, and Pacific Biosciences, a Silicon Valley company that provides sophisticated genomic analysis systems.

The article, “A high-quality, long-read de novogenome assembly to aid conservation of Hawaii’s last remaining crow species,” describes the high-quality reference genome that was generated to assist recovery efforts for the ‘alalā.

“The quality of this assembly places it among the very best avian genomes assembled to date, comparable to intensively studied model systems,” according to a post on the UH Hilo Biology Department News website.

Researchers and conservationists are currently using this resource to better understand genetic diversity in the ‘alalā, and to develop tools that will help inform strategic pairings as part of the conservation-breeding program. This genome assembly is now publicly available.

The paper is the cover story of the August 2018 issue of Genes, a special issue on conservation genetics and genomics.

PacBio reports:

Led by Jolene Sutton, assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, the team created an assembly which has provided critical insights into inbreeding and disease susceptibility. They found that the ‘alalā genome is substantially more homozygous compared with more outbred species, and created annotations for a subset of immunity genes that are likely to be important for conservation applications.

As reported in the latest issue of Genes — and featured on its cover — the quality of the assembly places it amongst the very best avian genomes assembled to date, comparable to intensively studied model systems.

“Such genome-level data offer unprecedented precision to examine the causes and genetic consequences of population declines, and to apply these results to conservation management,” the authors state. “Although pair selection and managed breeding using the pedigree has kept the inbreeding level of the ‘alalā population at a relatively low level over the past 20 years, the intensive and ongoing conservation management of the species requires a more detailed approach.”

Adam Pack speaks at 2nd World Congress on Humpback Whales

Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 2:10am by

In August 2017, Adam Pack was an invited keynote speaker at the 2nd World Congress on Humpback Whales in Reunion Island.  Dr. Pack‘s presentation was entitled ” Twenty years of sizing whales underwater: Insights into the behavioral ecology and mating system of humpback whales in the Hawaiian breeding grounds”

Biology Department welcomes our newest faculty member, Dr. Matt Knope

Thursday, August 18, 2016, 9:36pm by

Matthew Knope is a new Assistant Professor of Biology at UH Hilo. He received a Bachelors degree in Marine Biology with honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz (1999), a Masters degree in Marine Biology from San Francisco State University (2004), and a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University (2012). Also at Stanford, he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Dept. of Biology (2012), a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Dept. of Geological and Environmental Sciences (2013-2014), and a Lecturer in the Dept. of Biology (2014-2015). Before joining the faculty at UH Hilo, he was most recently an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Field Biology at the University of San Francisco (2015-2016). He is broadly interested in almost all aspects of biology, but his primary research topics are related to the evolutionary ecology of both marine and terrestrial organisms, in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere. In addition, he is strongly motivated to develop and share innovative teaching methods in the sciences.

Knope photo

Dr. Matthew Knope

Biology Welcomes new Assistant Professor, Dr. Jolene Sutton

Friday, February 26, 2016, 10:08pm by

Dr. Jolene Sutton received her Ph.D. from the University of Otago in 2013. She then worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at UH Mānoa until joining the Biology Department at UH Hilo in 2016. Her research area is Molecular and Conservation Genetics, with a specific focus on immunity genes.

UH Hilo’s newest Biology faculty member, Dr. Jolene Sutton, sequences rare Hawaiian crow’s genome that will assist in conservation efforts

Saturday, January 16, 2016, 9:52pm by

“In collaboration with PacBio, scientists at San Diego Zoo Global and the University of Hawaiʻi, Hilo have fully sequenced the genome of the ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow and shared the results of this effort at the recent annual Plant and Animal Genomics XXIV Conference in San Diego. The ʻAlalā was once reduced to a population of about 20 birds, and the sequencing of the species’ genome will be important to track any genetic challenges that may occur due to the reduced genetic diversity now seen in the species.” – Zoological Society of San Diego.

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Hawaiian Crow

Photo credit: San Diego Zoo

Biology’s 2008 “Outstanding Senior Biology Major,” Melissa Johnson, publishes her M.S. research results

Thursday, November 26, 2015, 11:34pm by

Melissa Johnson, UH Hilo Biology Department alumna and “Outstanding Senior Biology Major 2008” has just published her first peer-reviewed, lead-author paper, “Postzygotic barriers isolate sympatric species of Cyrtandra (Gesneriaceae) in Hawaiian montane forest understories.” The paper, which was coauthored by members of the Departments of Biology and Geography, is highlighted as an “Editor’s choice” article in the November 2015 issue of the American Journal of Botany. The paper results from her M.S. thesis in UH Hilo’s TCBES Graduate Program, which she defended in 2011. Currently, Melissa is continuing her studies on Cyrtandra as a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University.