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Tag: Academics

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Dec. 2018: Preparing students for the future through applied learning

Through applied learning in research, internships, and creative endeavors, students enhance their classroom learning and get a big boost toward advanced degrees, future employment, and leadership roles in their professions and their communities.

By Marcia Sakai.

Every student at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is offered the opportunity to apply their textbook knowledge to the real world through research, internships, creative endeavors, student employment and more. Through this type of scholarly work, students enhance their classroom learning and get a big boost toward advanced degrees, future employment, and leadership roles in their professions and their communities.

I would like to share with you three of our student research programs and a few extraordinary students doing important research and inquiry of great benefit to the people of our state and the island environment. These accomplished students—and many others in these and other programs, too many to name here in this column—are already contributing in positive ways to the problems facing our island state.

Students of Hawaiʻi Advanced Research Program (SHARP)

SHARP is a relatively new program, largely supporting under-represented students, particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, who would like to do research in preparation for doctoral studies. The students are mentored by expert faculty researchers to develop interest and competence in biomedical and behavioral sciences research. The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) and is administered through the UH Hilo Department of Anthropology.

Six SHARP students showcased their research at the 2nd Annual SHARP Symposium held on campus in August. Five of the students are undergraduates and one is in a doctoral program at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. The students worked with faculty researchers to develop their topics and learn skills to conduct their research.

Undergraduates Duke Escobar (biology major) and Kieran-Tiaye Long (psychology) are investigating the anti-bacterial efficacy of native Hawaiian plant-based medicines. Dallas Freitas (chemistry) is researching key mechanisms of ion channel signaling in cancer drug resistance and the tumor microenvironment.

Duke Escobar points to his poster project.
Duke Escobar presents his research at the 2nd Annual SHARP Symposium, Aug.31, 2018, UH Hilo. Courtesy photo from SHARP, click to enlarge.

Jasmine Hicking (biology) is researching medicinal plants, specifically anti-cancer and anti-bacterial agents from microorganisms and herbal medicine. Skyla Lee (chemistry-bioscience) is doing research on synthesis and evaluation of antibacterial and anti-cancer agents in natural products. Doctoral student Nathan Sunada (pharmaceutical sciences) is investigating neuroblastoma and the mechanisms that promote cancer progression through a native Hawaiian perspective.

Keaholoa STEM Program

The goal of Keaholoa is to increase enrollment, support, and graduation rates of Native Hawaiians and other underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM disciplines. Over the years, Keaholoa has become a program where minority students can engage in scientifically rigorous research that is grounded in indigenous or native cultural practices and knowledge.

For example, anthropology student Rosa Motta has compiled water property data from nearshore marine environments using historical land use patterns and archaeological sites to determine the health of coastlines in terms of the ʻāina-kai (land-ocean) relationship. Physics major Gabriel Gutierrez mapped coral reef health using traditional Hawaiian canoes. Environmental science major Jowell Guerreiro is interested in restoring loko i‘a (fishponds) and collected data on flow rates during specific moon phases.

Marine Option Program (MOP)

MOP is a UH systemwide certificate program, offered on all UH campuses, providing educational opportunities for students from all disciplines who are interested in studying the ocean.

Earlier this year, three students from UH Hilo MOP came home with awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held at Windward Community College. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate MOP students from UH campuses around the state. Our students were outstanding representatives of UH Hilo, and brought home major awards, including best research presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo MOP students in 24 of the past 29 years.

Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez.
UH Hilo delegation to the Marine Option Program Student Symposium held April 21 at Windward Community College. (l-r) Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez. Courtesy photo.

Julia Stewart won best research presentation for her research project on coral, an ambitious project using bioinformatics. Wheatley Crawley won best poster presentation for her project on conservation at Wai‘opae, one of the last research projects at the teeming tidepools before the recent lava flow tragically covered the area. Michelle Nason won the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award for her work establishing a coral nursery on Hawai‘i Island.

Budding scholars, future leaders

Many UH Hilo graduates have benefited greatly from our various applied learning programs. When they move on to graduate school, doctoral programs, or professional positions, they are already well-skilled in doing sustainability, conservation, health, community-based research projects and more that make an impact.

As we prepare for the close of the semester and Fall Commencement, I’d like to congratulate the graduating class, wish each student great success, and thank everyone for your contributions to UH Hilo, our students, and our community.

Sending aloha to you and your families this holiday season!

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Nov. 2018: One learns from many sources

With today’s technology, the guidance of expert mentors, and a deep desire to make new discoveries, UH Hilo students are learning from many sources and contributing to their selected fields, their communities, and the world.

By Marcia Sakai.

The Mission Statement of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo begins with the adage, ‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi (One learns from many sources). One unique aspect of UH Hilo is that we offer both undergraduate and graduate students many opportunities to do research in a variety of fields. Our students are doing important work, collecting and analyzing new data, publishing findings alongside their mentors, graduating with a packed résumé and a degree, fully prepared to join the workforce or continue to a terminal degree.

I would like to share with you some research projects where our students are learning by doing the work, making the discoveries, and enriching the world with new knowledge.

‘Āina (Land)

UH Hilo professors, scientists and students provided valuable expertise and resources on multiple fronts during the recent lava flow in Puna, helping government officials assess hazards to the public.

A team of undergraduate and graduate students led by Associate Professor of Geography Ryan Perroy piloted drones day and night capturing imagery of the lava flows, critical information for the government agencies overseeing eruption response.

UH Hilo volcanologist Cheryl Gansecki, assisted by undergraduate students, provided real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples. The information helped government scientists determine how the lava would behave and how fast it moved, critical information for response plans.

Lani (Sky)

Kyle Steckler
Kyle Steckler

While completing a summer internship at the University of Michigan, UH Hilo astronomy student Kyle Steckler developed an algorithm to discover minor planets that orbit the sun beyond Neptune. The algorithm did not fully work all summer and he was not discovering anything new. But about three hours before he gave his final presentation at the symposium in Ann Arbor, he was running his software and it suddenly popped up something new—Kyle had discovered a new object in our solar system!

Kyle’s internship was funded through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, a highly competitive program funded by the National Science Foundation that supports active research done by undergraduates. He will graduate with this amazing accomplishment already on his résumé, a solid foundation for making future discoveries.

Chantelle Kiessner
Chantelle Kiessner

Another astronomy student, Chantelle Kiessner, is doing solar investigations, having been awarded three internships over the course of the past two years. She started in 2016 as a Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium trainee and then, building on the skills learned as a trainee, she was selected for the Akamai Internship Program in the summer of 2017. As an Akamai Scholar she was placed at the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui to work on quantifying data on the new Adaptive Optics system where she looked for ways to correct the errors introduced by Earth’s atmosphere.

Chantelle then conducted research over the past summer as an intern in the REU program. She studied at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, a research facility at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While there, she worked at the National Solar Observatory analyzing spectral data from the solar chromosphere, the reddish outer layer of the sun.

These two students are already earning their research chops as undergraduates and I can only imagine the great work they will do in their future careers.

Kai (Ocean)

Sabena Siddiqui
Sabena Siddiqui

Sabena Siddiqui, a graduate student in tropical conservation biology and environmental science, is researching the sounds of humpback whales when they are not singing, an aspect of their communication that is clearly important but little studied. Sabena’s investigations focus on spectral analysis of the social sounds of the humpback whale population that breeds in Hawaiʻi.

Sabena secured funding to attend UH Hilo through the NSF Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) with partial funding through the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems bioacoustics lab at UH Hilo.

In addition to her graduate studies, for the past seven years Sabena has served as the student chair of the American Cetacean Society, the world’s oldest whale conservation organization. Her role is to be a mentor and guide to student leaders of other groups on campus.

 ‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi

Armed with today’s technology, the guidance of expert mentors, and a deep desire to make new discoveries, these students are learning from many sources and already contributing to their selected fields, their communities, and the world. In a future column I will share with you the work of several programs that support our students in exploring and investigating our island and beyond.

Aloha and mahalo.

Marcia Sakai

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: UH Hilo, a leader in diversity

Our campus’s cultural diversity provides an environment in which appreciation for diversity of perspectives can create a healthy community where everyone feels respected and valued.

Large group, Freshman class.
UH Hilo’s Fall 2018 Freshman Class gather on the Campus Center Plaza during Orientation Week, Aug, 15, 2018. In August, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2018 Almanac ranked UH Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the nation. Courtesy photo from the Freshman Experience Program, click to enlarge.

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has much to celebrate. Our campus prides itself on being an inclusive community, nurturing and supporting a global mix of ethnicities and cultures. In August, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2018 Almanac ranked UH Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the nation! Three other UH campuses also ranked in the top 10.

Our campus’s cultural diversity provides an environment in which appreciation for diversity of perspectives can create a healthy community where everyone feels respected and valued. This is enriching for everyone on campus. But it’s even more than that.

Having local, mainland, Pacific region and other international students all living and learning together gives everyone real experience in the development of global understanding. Students leave our campus and community with a strong sense of the value of diversity in education, commerce, health and welfare—our graduates are already global citizens before graduation, with an understanding that valuing diversity raises the quality of life for everyone.

Let me share something about our people and programs working in support of diversity at UH Hilo.

First, we embrace our responsibility to serve the indigenous people of Hawai‘i and to support Hawai‘i’s indigenous language and culture. Hawai‘i’s people, history, cultures, and natural environment permeate all that we do in teaching, conducting research, and doing outreach to the community.

In addition to our Hawaiian language and cultural revitalization programs, cultural practitioners are part of many programs in the natural sciences, pharmaceutical and health sciences, humanities, and sustainability. Cultural practitioners at our Uluākea program teach faculty in various academic disciplines an authentic and practical understanding of indigenous ways of knowing the world.

Group of people some blowing conch shells.
Cultural practitioners at our Uluākea program teach faculty in various academic disciplines an authentic and practical understanding of indigenous ways of knowing the world. Courtesy photo.

It is from this strong place-based foundation that our campus embraces the world, its peoples and its cultures.

In academics, Professor of Sociology Marina Karides is developing a new track of study focusing on island and indigenous sociology. The curriculum includes courses on indigenous health and well-being, island feminism, and the political economy of Hawai‘i. Students’ theses will be based in indigenous research protocols, and internships will be required with organizations that serve Native Hawaiian and/or indigenous communities.

Through the Study Abroad program, headed by Director of Global Exchange Carolina Lam, our local students have many opportunities to study in another country, giving them real world experience of other cultures and people. Students who study abroad gain valuable skills and expertise for an increasingly internationalized and interdependent world.

Anya Benevides by lake, snow and snow capped mountains in distance.
UH Hilo exchange student Anya Benevides, Narvik, Norway. Courtesy photo.

On campus, UH Hilo hosts incoming exchange students from different nations and cultures each semester in a program headed by Director of Global Exchange Tom Shumway. Almost 100 new international exchange and other international students have joined us this fall—of those about 30 are exchange students with us for one or two semesters and the others degree seeking. About 250 total international students are on campus. Along with international films and speakers, these students present opportunities for an enriched understanding of diverse viewpoints and experiences that benefit our classrooms, our campus, and the greater Hilo community.

Group of people, the host family and their young daughter with students.
The Matsui Family of Hilo is a host family to UH Hilo international students. (Left to right) student La-Arnie Lucky, student Niah Maui, Savannah Matsui, Erin Matsui, Kent Matsui, and student Ngiratkel Singeo. Read story about the Host Family Program welcome event hosted earlier this semester. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

At our Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Director Jennifer Stotter is looking at diversity on campus from the perspective of equity. In addition to ensuring that UH Hilo is following all laws and policies pertaining to equal opportunity, the EEO/AA office also develops training programs and workshops on sexual harassment and discrimination to ensure all on our campus are supported and treated fairly.

LGBTQ+ Center logo, rainbow heart with words: LGBTQ+ Center University of Hawaii at HiloAt our Division of Student Affairs, Vice Chancellor Farrah-Marie Gomes is looking at developing a Center for Diversity and Multiculturalism to bring together all the programs that currently support diversity, including the Center for Global Education and Exchange, the Minority Access and Achievement Program, the Student Support Services Program, the Womenʻs Center, the LGBTQ+ Center, Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center, and others. The centralization will allow for even more coordination and collaboration between people and programs in support of our diverse campus community.

We look forward to doing more, because this is the type of support that expands our students’ views about people, their diverse communities and the world as they become global citizens and move on to become the leaders of the future.

Diversity Fair

UH Hilo will be celebrating Global Diversity Awareness Month on campus with a Diversity Fair on Oct. 24. There will be student presentations, artwork, music, food, and performance art, all celebrating diversity. The different programs mentioned in this column will also have displays and information booths. An awards ceremony will cap the event recognizing the best student presentations. All are welcome, the event is free and open to the public. I hope you’ll join us.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai meets with local press

Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai hosted a Coffee Hour with the local press today on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Interim Chancellor Sakai shared the following information in her PowerPoint.

The Flow

Large group of students and staff in orange safety vests, some hollding drones and other equipment.
UH HILO DRONE TEAM. UH Hilo had a vital role in response to the recent historic lava eruption on Hawaiʻi Island. In the photo above, students and staff, four holding drones used in aerial surveys, in the field at recent lava flow in Puna. The team piloted drones day and night to capture thermo data and imagery of lava flows, information critical to government agencies overseeing eruption response. They also analyzed threat to Puna Geothermal. Other teams of scientists analyzed chemistry of lava samples at labs on campus. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

UH Hilo Most Diverse Four-Year University in the Nation

Large group of students looking up to camera.
Freshman class during Orientation in August 2018. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

UH Hilo was recently ranked the Most Diverse 4-Year University in the Nation by the Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac 2018.

The Chronicle’s ranking of the top 10 most diverse public four-year universities and their corresponding diversity indexes:

  1. UH Hilo, 88.9
  2. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology at Okmulgee, 87.1
  3. UH Maui College, 86.5
  4. UH West Oʻahu, 84.5
  5. Highline College, 81.9
  6. UH Mānoa, 81.6
  7. California State University, East Bay, 79.3
  8. Rutgers University-Newark, 78.9
  9. New Jersey Institute of Technology, 78.5
  10. Seattle Central College, 78.0

Interim Chancellor’s Message on changes to Nā Pua Noʻeau program

No longer a statewide organization based at UH Hilo, the mission and vision of Nā Pua Noʻeau will now be integrated into campus programs at UH Hilo, UH Mānoa, UH Maui College, Kaua‘i Community College and UH West O‘ahu.

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

Green leaf logo with the words UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII Nā Pua Noʻeau Center for Gifted and Talent Native Hawaiian ChildrenI would like to acknowledge and thank all Nā Pua Noʻeau employees for their years of service to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Last week, the University of Hawai‘i System announced the integration of the Nā Pua Noʻeau Center for Gifted and Talent Native Hawaiian Children mission and vision into campus programs at UH Hilo, UH Mānoa, UH Maui College, Kaua‘i Community College and UH West O‘ahu:

Employees of will now report directly to the campuses where they are located.

We are pleased to have Nina Segawa, Administrative/Fiscal Officer transitioning to Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center , and Raymond Busniewski, Information Technology Specialist, transitioning to Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language after closeout activities are completed.

Please direct any questions regarding Na Pua Noeau to Farrah-Marie Gomes, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Mahalo,

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor