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UH Hilo 2013 Awards and Recognition Celebration

Taniguchi Award
Philippe Binder, professor of physics, (second from left) and colleague Ramon Figueroa-Centano, associate professor of mathematics (did not attend event), received the 2013 Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation for their work on 3-dimensional visualization of complex mathematical objects at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center planetarium. Left to right: Shawn Laatsch, who nominated the team for the award; Prof. Binder; Toby Taniguchi; and Chancellor Don Straney. Photo by Jaysen Niedermeyer.

Chancellor Don Straney hosted the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo 2013 Awards and Recognition Celebration on May 2. Recognized at the event were retirees, faculty and staff receiving years-of-service recognition, and UH Hilo award recipients for Outstanding University Support Employee, Professional Staff Award, Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation, and Student Employee of the Year.


(This list covers the period from May 2012 through April 2013. Anyone retiring after April 30 will be recognized at next year’s event.)

Not attending event:

  • Mary Andrews was hired as a part time junior specialist for the nursing department in 2006. She assisted with health records and maintained accreditation surveys and student survey assessments.
  • Joe Bernabe was a janitor at the Manono and UH Hilo campuses in the 1980’s and was assigned to clean off-campus facilities in 2001. He became a building and grounds custodian at UH Hilo in 2010, and officially retired in January 2013.
  • Paul Dixon, professor of psychology, served at UH Hilo for 47 years. He helped establish the Department of Psychology and the graduate program in counseling psychology.
  • Jim DeMello served 38 years at UH Hilo and was named Women’s Golf Coach in June 2003. He was on the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Legislation Committee and was responsible for the budget and compliance issues related to the NCAA and Pacific West Conference.
  • Warren Ferreira retired as director of security at Outrigger Hotels in 2007 and then moved to Hilo where he was named director of campus security at UH Hilo. The university ‘ohana is saddened at his passing away in April.
  • Grant Gerrish, instructor of biology, was at UH Hilo for 19 years. In addition to teaching, he helped develop the ecology, evolution and conservation biology undergraduate degree in biology. He did research on ohia and has conducted environmental impact and assessment studies for many projects in Hawai‘i.
  • Randy Ioane started working for the state in 1976. In 2009, he transferred to UH Hilo as a janitor. He worked mainly at the College of Pharmacy modulars until his retirement in April 2012.
  • Kerwin Iwamoto, director of human resources, served at UH Hilo for 25 years. At the time Kerwin was hired, he was the first professional level Human Resources employee for UH Hilo. He built the UH Hilo HR unit, was extremely knowledgeable and competent, and a really nice guy.

Attending event:

  • Ron Amundson
    Ron Amundson

    Ronald Amundson, professor of psychology, now professor emeritus, served at UH Hilo for 34 years. He was department chair for seven years, developed several new courses for the program, and cultivated relationships between philosophy and programs in the natural and social sciences. He received the “Excellence in Research” award in 1992 and the “Excellence in Teaching Award” in 2003. Prof. Amundson’s research into the way historians and philosophers view and respond to the history of evolutionary biology is internationally renown. The book on this work, titled, The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought: Roots of Evo-Devo, was published in 2005 and considered groundbreaking in the field of evolutionary biology. As professor emeritus, he hopes to expand on his work and hopefully make a book out of it.

  • Gerald DeMello
    Gerald DeMello

    Gerald DeMello was director of University Relations for 21 years. His tireless advocacy on behalf of the university, his extraordinary outreach skills, and his instinct for bringing the right people together at the right time to make the hard decisions, resulted in some of the most significant CIP growth at UH Hilo over the past two decades. Before his tenure at UH Hilo, he taught sociology for 15 years at UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College, for which he was recognized with the Excellence in Teaching Award. He was recently awarded the 2013 Distinguished Service Award from the UH Hilo Alumni Association.

  • Bill Heacox (left) with Chancellor Don Straney.
    Bill Heacox (left) with Chancellor Don Straney.

    William Heacox, professor of physics and astronomy, taught and conducted research at UH Hilo for 32 years. He trained with astronaut candidates Ellison Onizuka and Sally Ride, but withdrew, saying that he was “better suited to the sedentary life of a college professor.” But he’s been anything but sedentary. In addition to teaching, Prof. Heacox has been investigating the dynamics of dense stellar systems such as globular clusters and dwarf spheroidal galaxies. His discovery about the orbital properties of binary stars anticipated the strange orbital properties of extrasolar planets. He says he tried to convey to his students his sense of wonder as a professional astronomer.

  • Jim Juvik
    Jim Juvik

    Jim Juvik, professor of geography and environmental studies, specializes in tropical forest climate, hydrology, ecology, paleo-ecology and international wildlife conservation and ecological studies. Forty-plus years ago, Prof. Juvik was the first to core a number of Hawaiian swamps and bogs to secure peat and pollen records of past vegetation and climate change. His invention of the “Juvik Fog Gauge” is used internationally. He is an internationally recognized expert on conservation management of endangered land tortoises around the world. He taught and did research at UH Hilo for 42 years, and is currently conducting research in Namibia, southern Africa, among other scholarly pursuits.

  • Mike Sakamoto
    Mike Sakamoto

    Mike Sakamoto began working at UH Hilo in 1972 as a janitor and was promoted to the position of building maintenance assistant. In 1990, he because a building maintenance worker in University Housing. Rarely did housing ever have to contract an outside plumber, electrician or carpenter as Mr. Sakamoto was skilled in all these areas. His can-do attitude was an asset to the university.

Years of Service Recognitions

10 Years of Service

  • Gary Ah Sing
  • Dave Baptiste
  • Michael Ebersole
  • Ramon Figueroa
  • Janice Ho Chee
  • April Housman
  • Raina Ivanova
  • Barbara Leonard
  • Jeff Scofield
  • Russell Strong, Jr
  • Dorianne Yamada

20 Years of Service

  • Catherine Gourd
  • Karla Hayashi
  • Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a
  • Judith Kinoshita
  • Richard Lee
  • Lisa Mendoza
  • Laura Pajo
  • Robin Takahashi
  • Randal Usui

30 Years of Service

  • Audrey Hirayama
  • Wesley Tanoue

40 Years of Service

  • Bill Sakai

UH Hilo Awards

Student Employee of the Year: Xietan Kawai Anuhea Dutro

Anuhea Dutro
Left to right: Li‘i Nahiwa (nominator), Student Employee of the Year Anuhea Dutro, and Chancellor Straney. Photo by Jaysen Niedermeyer.
Shana Kaneshiro
Shana Kaneshiro

Award for Outstanding University Support Employee, presented to a university support service employee who has made significant contributions to UH Hilo: Shana Kaneshiro. 

Left to right: Chancellor Straney; Outstanding University Support Employee Corinne Tamashiro; and Farrah Gomes, nominator.
Left to right: Chancellor Straney; Outstanding University Support Employee Corinne Tamashiro; and Farrah Gomes, nominator.

Award for Professional Staff, presented to a faculty/professional staff member who has made major professional contributions to his/her unit and to the university as a whole, and has made a positive impact on the welfare of students and colleagues at UH Hilo: Corinne Tamashiro.

Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence in Innovation, recognizes creativity in teaching, scholarship and artistic production at UH Hilo:  Philippe Binder and Ramon Figueroa-Centano (Prof. Figueroa-Centano did not attend), for their work on 3-dimensional visualization of complex mathematical objects at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center planetarium. See photo of award recognition at top of post.

Photos by Jaysen Niedermeyer

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