Biology Department News

Congratulations to our UH Hilo Biology Students on their Student Achievement Awards!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 9:38pm by

On May 4th, Luke Kupcha won the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award. Heather Coad won the Mae Mull Award for Outstanding Student in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology. Lastly, Dillon Tacdol (not pictured) won the Don Hemmes Award. These students demonstrated excellent academic scholarship and displayed exemplary work in their field. Great job! Congratulations!

Luke Kupcha Heather Coad

Luke Kupcha and Heather Coad


Dr. Li Tao publishes paper on mitotic mechanisms of the kinesin-6 motor in Nature Communications

Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 9:39pm by

Li Tao¬†is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Hawai Ľi at Hilo. He is a biochemist and a cell biologist with expertise in using a combination of¬†in vitro¬†biochemistry and¬†in vivo¬†cell biology to understand the regulation of cell division, thus providing insights into the fundamental mechanism to control the growth of cancer cells.” – Keauhou


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Li Tao

Professor Li Tao in his office

Li Tao Lab

L-R: Student research assistants Gin Tezuka, Luke Kupcha, and Dr. Tao

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 MńĀnoa 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 Hawai Ľi, Hilo have fully sequenced the genome of the ‘AlalńĀ, or Hawaiian crow and shared the results of this effort at the recent annual Plant and Animal Genomics XXIV Conference in San Diego. The  ĽAlalńĀ 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 ‚ÄúOutstanding Senior Biology Major,‚ÄĚ 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.

Biology Students Volunteer for Community Service at Napo Ľopo Ľo in Waipio Valley

Saturday, November 21, 2015, 11:30pm by

At the end of November, 24 Biology students participated in Service Learning with Kulia Potter who advocates for education of indigenous Hawaiian culture through mo Ľolelo (storytelling) of Hawaiian history and the propagation of native Hawaiian plants and Polynesian introduced plants. On this trip, students cleared land, planted  Ľulu trees and taro, and had fun too!





Biology senior Merritt Burch just returned from her NSF funded REU internship at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Friday, August 14, 2015, 1:45am by

Biology senior Merritt Burch just returned from her NSF funded REU internship at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she studied snRNA processing and miRNA regulation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Burch helped identify mutants defective in pollen and embryo development and showed the critical importance of C-terminal domain processing of snRNAs in the plant’s development.

Burch in lab

Burch conference

UH Hilo’s Student, Gary Sur, presents his research on Hawaiian Metrosideros at the BOTANY 2015 Conference

Monday, July 27, 2015, 1:47am by

Spring Biology graduate, Gary Sur, presented his research on Leaf Micromorphological Variation in Hawaiian¬†Metrosideros¬†at “Botany 2015” in Edmonton, Alberta, in July. Gary was one of just 12 undergraduates selected from across the country to participate in the Botanical Society of America’s PLANTS program this year. He will continue research as a TCBES student this fall. Go Gary!

Biology alumni Megan Araujo and Mike Brigoli accepted into JABSOM

Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 1:57am by

Megan Araujo and Michael Brigoli, UH Hilo Biology Alumni, have been recently accepted into¬†John A. Burns School of Medicine¬†(U of Hawai Ľi). Both will begin their pathway to medicine in Fall 2015. Megan graduated with a 4.0 GPA and received a BS in Biology this past Fall (2014). Mike was a returning student that put aside his firefighter career to achieve his life long go of becoming a physician. Congratulations to both of you!

Brandi Antonio and Chris Yakym take home 1st place prizes in Microbiology

Monday, April 27, 2015, 2:00am by

Brandi is an undergraduate senior Biology student that has been working in Dr.¬†Jon Awaya‘s lab for the past year. She attended the Biomedical Sciences and Health Disparities Symposium on April 17 at UH MńĀnoa and received 1st prize in the Undergraduate Student Division. Her research is titled, “Characterization of a Novel Microbe in¬†Iotrochota protea¬†via Secondary Metabolite Production and Antimicrobial Activity”. Brandi will be graduating this Spring and attending Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate program this Fall. Chris Yakym, a TCBES graduate student, received 1st prize in the MS category at the annual American Society of Microbiology Hawai Ľi Chapter symposium on April 25th on O Ľahu. His research is titled, “Microbial Diversity Associated with Two Hawaiian Drosophila,¬†D. sproati¬†and¬†D. ochracea,and their Host Plants,Cheirodendrontrigynum¬†and¬†Freycinetia arborea“.


Chris Brandi