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Tag: Collaborations & Partnerships

End-of-Year Message to UH Hilo ‘Ohana from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai

Aloha UH Hilo ‘Ohana,

As we start finals week and look forward to commencement on Saturday, I’d like to share with you a few highlights of the past semester.

Students

Graduate and undergraduate women students planned and organized the inaugural Women in STEM Conference held in February. The all-day event brought together women leaders, scientists, students, and members of the campus community to discuss the current state of affairs for women in the STEM fields. Topics covered social history of women in STEM, the importance of mentorship, the issues of sexual harassment, mental health, the wage gap, work-family-life balance, retaining women STEM students, and creating a supportive climate for underrepresented minorities in STEM.

The concept of a campus food pantry for students in need was developed by business student Jordan Kamimura. Hale Pa‘i ‘Ai, a one-year pilot project that launched a soft opening in April, is officially opening this fall to provide services to students in need of reliable access to food. The Administrative Affairs project is to help students who may experience limited access to food at different times of the year due to lack of money and other resources. Jordan’s business concept includes pop-up concessions on campus to provide funding support.

Marcia Sakai, Jordan Kamimura, and Kalei Rapoza standing in front of the Teapresso concession.
Left to right, Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai, business student Jordan Kamimura, and Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza at the rollout event of the Teapresso Bar concession March 13, UH Hilo. The concession will support the new food pantry program on campus; Kamimura created the business plan for the pop-up and food pantry. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri, click to enlarge.

Our Marine Option Program students once again made a big splash at the annual statewide MOP Symposium. Bryant Grady’s project on reef ecology won Best Research Presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo Marine Option Program students for 26 of the past 31 years. Alexa Runyan won the Pacon Award for the best use of technology.

Three UH Hilo students presented their research projects at the annual meeting of the worldwide Society for Applied Anthropology held in Oregon where 2,000 academics and consultants attended the event. UH Hilo undergraduate Alexis Cabrera, with the mentorship of anthropology professor Lynn Morrison, won 3rd prize out of 90 student submissions (mostly master’s and doctoral projects) for her poster presentation.

Senior Rebekah Loving, from Hāmākua and double majoring in computer science and mathematics, is researching RNA sequencing and her work has gained the attention of a “who’s who” of top research universities across the country. Rebekah has received acceptance letters with offers of full funding to doctoral programs in biostatistics, computational biology, and computer science from Harvard, Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology.

Faculty

The extraordinary work of our faculty was noticed throughout the world.

The Jan. 23 airing of PBS’s NOVA, about the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, prominently featured UH Hilo scientists Cheryl Gansecki and Ryan Perroy and their work on chemistry analysis and aerial monitoring of the flow respectively. Cheryl, a geologist, provided real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples that helped determine how the lava would behave and how fast it would move, crucial information for Civil Defense and other responders. A group of undergraduate and graduate students led by Ryan, a geographer, piloted drones day and night capturing thermo and regular imagery of the lava flows, gathering critical information for the government agencies overseeing the eruption response.

UH Hilo biologist Rebecca Ostertag and geologist Jené Michaud were part of a team awarded an international medal for their paper questioning a fundamental assumption in the field of restoration ecology—the researchers suggest that nonnative, noninvasive plant species can be an important part of Hawaiian forest restoration. The Bradshaw Medal is given by the Society for Ecological Restoration in recognition of a scientific paper published in the Society’s major journal, Restoration Ecology.

Making international news was the story about Maunakea astronomers collaborating with our very own Larry Kimura, renowned Hawaiian language professor and cultural practitioner, for the Hawaiian naming of the black hole recently discovered. Pōwehi, meaning embellished dark source of unending creation, is a name sourced from the Kumulipo, the primordial chant describing the creation of the Hawaiian universe. The name awaits official confirmation, but it has already made the world take notice of the deeply meaningful Native Hawaiian connection to the discovery.

Campus

Early in the semester, we hosted a two-day Islands of Opportunity Alliance conference. UH Hilo administers the alliance, a collaborative group of 10 partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawai‘i, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The partners all share the common goal of increasing underrepresented professionals in STEM fields and together we are working toward more diversity in the quest for and understanding of scientific knowledge.

Roundtable group seated in discussion.
The Islands of Opportunity conference was attended by approximately 30 participants from across the Pacific region, including campus coordinators and administrators from each of the 11 alliance institutions, as well as the governing board, two external advisory boards, and an external NSF evaluator from Washington D.C. Jan. 11, 2019, UH Hilo campus. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri, click to enlarge.

A 40-session listening tour is underway in preparation for UH Hilo’s new strategic plan. The inclusive planning process is creating a strong foundation for a living strategic plan for our campus. Among the members of the UH Hilo ‘ohana, listeners of the tour outcomes will include our new UH Hilo chancellor and a Strategic Planning Committee that will be formed once the permanent chancellor is in place.

Bonnie Irwin
Bonnie Irwin

This leads me to the long-awaited news we received of the unanimous approval from the UH Board of Regents in naming our new chancellor Bonnie Irwin. Chancellor-Designate Irwin is looking forward to working with students, faculty, staff, alumni, island leaders and community members to build on the decades of great work to move UH Hilo and the community forward. We will be welcoming her to our university ‘ohana on July 1.

Mahalo

Thank you to everyone for all your hard work and dedication toward making UH Hilo a remarkable place of knowledge and learning. May you all have a successful end of the academic year. I send my congratulations to our spring graduates—you do us proud and I look forward to seeing you make a difference in the world. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai

Presentation: Aloha ‘Āina Maunakea

Photo of Mauankea with words: Aloha Aina Maunakea, Voices of the Land, Friday, April 26, 2019, 1pm-2pm, Wentworth 1

The presentation Aloha ‘Āina Maunakea is scheduled for today, April 26, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at Wentworth 1.

A cultural perspective of the kuleana (responsibility) of two Hawaiian practitioners on Maunakea will be presented by Luana Busby-Neff and Leilani Kaapuni and facilitated by Manulani Meyer, Director for Kūlana o Kapolei, a Hawaiian Place of Learning at University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu.

More information about the presentation.

 

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column, Jan. 2019: Helping our island and state grow into the future

We at UH Hilo take seriously our kuleana to help provide the workforce for new growth sectors in our economy, the scientific experts to help conserve the precious environment of our island and state, and the technological resources necessary for our communities to meet unexpected crises.

By Marcia Sakai

Aloha and Happy New Year!

I look forward to the coming year as progress and growth continues at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. I’d like to focus this month’s column on a major goal of the university: to strengthen UH Hilo’s impact on the community, island, and state through responsive higher education, community partnerships, and knowledge and technology transfer.

Responsive higher education

The new building to house the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is well on its way to completion in July. The modern classrooms, offices, student services, and laboratories will answer the great need for state-of-the-art facilities to train the pharmacists who will serve communities in our state and region.

New building to house the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, under construction, Dec. 11, 2018. Photo by Tracy Niimi.

Last month, our new bachelor of science in aeronautical sciences program was approved by the UH Board of Regents. There are two tracks: one in commercial professional pilot training and the other in commercial aerial information technology (drones)—both are projected workforce needs in the state. The pilot training track is cost effective compared to mainland programs. The drone track trains students for growing career opportunities in agriculture, natural resource management, search and rescue, security services, and expected air transport services.

UH Hilo launched its long-planned data science program this past fall by offering a certificate in the fast-growing field. The program is filling a need in the state because almost every branch of science collects massive amounts of data, but there are not a lot of trained people able to analyze that data and make conclusions—for example, here on our island, there is a great need in conservation efforts, water resource management, and climate change research.

Partnerships

Partnerships are key to conducting effective scientific inquiry into 21st century challenges. Here is an example in the field of conservation biology, specifically research to save the endangered ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow) from extinction.

alala
One of the recently released ʻalalā. Photo San Diego Zoo Global.

In collaboration with a Silicon Valley company that provides sophisticated genomic analysis systems, geneticists at UH Hilo and San Diego Zoo Global have fully sequenced the genome of the endangered ‘alalā. Once reduced to a population of about 20 birds, 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. This is an extremely important contribution to conservation genetics. The genome assembly is now publicly available.

Currently, the UH Hilo geneticists are collaborating with researchers from California, New Zealand, and Australia to do a genetics study addressing the hatching failure of the ‘alalā and the endangered kākāpō of New Zealand.

Another research team, this one from the UH Hilo Bioacoustics Lab, recently received a $50,000 award from the Disney Conservation Fund to work in collaboration with the ʻAlalā Project, a partnership between the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, San Diego Zoo Global, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to find out if captively reared ‘alalā are developing new vocalizations as they adapt to new situations encountered in the wild. This information will greatly assist in the conservation efforts of ʻalalā.

Knowledge and technology transfer

UH Hilo’s response to the recent lava flow in Puna is a good example of the university sharing its expert knowledge and technology resources for the benefit of our local communities.

As the lava threatened vulnerable communities, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense reached out to UH Hilo’s experts in drone technology to do high-resolution mapping of the flow areas. Government responders needed to pinpoint exact locations of the advancing lava, and the UH Hilo drone team was able to capture overhead shots, and then quickly relay that information to Civil Defense.

Another research team from UH Hilo conducted real-time chemistry analysis of lava samples that helped determine how the lava would behave and how fast it would move. The data provided critical information to the U.S. Geological Survey scientists responding to the natural disaster. The samples were collected daily from the flows, bagged and dated, and brought back to the Hilo campus for analysis. It was the first time scientists looked at the chemistry at the same time the volcano was erupting.

Yet another research team provided precise leveling of the ground around the Puna power plant to detect whether the surface was rising due to the flow of magma beneath the surface. The monitoring would alert officials if the facility was about to be compromised.

The longer-term scientific value of the data collected by these research teams helps government officials better understand these types of eruptions so that responders can do an even better job of predicting in the future.

Thinking ahead

We at UH Hilo take seriously our kuleana to help provide the workforce for new growth sectors in our economy, the scientific experts to help conserve the precious environment of our island and state, and the technological resources necessary for our communities to meet unexpected crises. By working together with our local communities and in collaboration with myriad partners, we help improve the quality of life for everyone.

Wishing you a happy and productive 2019!

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

Message from the Interim Chancellor to UH Hilo Community: It’s been a wonderful semester, filled with accomplishments

Above photo: Happy customers at the sold-out annual poinsettia plant sale, Campus Center Plaza, UH Hilo. The plants are grown by students of the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management. Nov. 28, 2018. Photo by Raiatea Arcuri.

A message from Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai to the UH Hilo community:

As we start the holiday season, I reflect on the amazing and talented people who are part of our university ‘ohana, and I’d like to share with you some of the accomplishments of the past semester.

Incoming Freshman Class, August 2018.

We started our new academic year with The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2018 Almanac ranking the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo as the most diverse four-year public university in the United States. The cultural and ethnic diversity found in our university ‘ohana strengthens everything we do in teaching, research, and outreach, and prepares our students to be productive citizens in the real world.

Two student playing pick up ball.
Students play at the renovated court.

We also started the semester with two new outdoor gathering spaces for our students: a newly renovated basketball court behind Auxiliary Services complete with a grill and several covered picnic tables with solar powered e-recharging stations, and covered solar recharging stations outside the Student Services building. The new spaces, complete USB charging ports and Wi-Fi access, were built through a great collaborative project with students from the carpentry program at Hawai‘i Community College.

Jolene Sutton
Jolene Sutton

A team of our genetic researchers studying the ‘alalā (Hawaiian crow), led by biologist Jolene Sutton, published their work describing the high-quality reference genome that was generated to assist recovery efforts for the endangered bird. Researchers Martin Helmkampf  and Renee Bellinger, along with collaborators from the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program, San Diego Zoo Global, and Pacific Biosciences, all contributed to the project. This is an extremely important contribution to the world of conservation genetics. The genome assembly is now publicly available.

Geneviève Blanchet
Geneviève Blanchet

And our conservation biology students also made headlines. A group of our graduate students in the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program presented their work at the 25th Annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference held in Honolulu. Two of the students came home with honorsGeneviève Blanchet was awarded Outstanding Graduate Student Oral Presentation, and Koa Matsuoka was awarded Runner-Up for Outstanding Graduate Poster Presentation.

Makalapua Alencastre, Roxanne DeLille, Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, Noelani Iokepa-Guerrero, Kananinohea Mākaʻimoku, Ray Barnhardt, Walter Kahumoku III, Kamehaʻililani Waiau, Keane Nakapueo-Garcia, and Sylvia Hussey,
UH Hilo group at Sami University of Applied Sciences, Norway, for accreditation recognition from the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium.

The Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program received accreditation. The UH Hilo graduate certificate program is the first teacher education program in the world to receive accreditation from the prestigious international authority, the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. The consortium also renewed accreditation for the UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, director of the college, and all faculty and staff of the college are to be congratulated for their hard work in making UH Hilo’s language and culture revitalization program a model for the world to follow.

Students in computer lab.
Pierre Martin (right), associate professor of astronomy and observatory director, with students in the upgraded computer lab.

Students and researchers in the physics and astronomy program celebrated the installation of 12 brand new high-end desktops and monitors, along with a new data processing and storage Linux computer system, thanks to a generous donation by the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory. The TMT gift totaled over $28,000 in equipment, supporting the replacement of 10 aged computers purchased in 2010 that no longer met department needs.

UH Hilo launched its long-planned data science program this fall by offering a certificate in the fast growing field. Program Director Roberto Pelayo says the program is filling a need in the state because almost every branch of science collects massive amounts of data, but there are not a lot of trained people able to analyze that data and make conclusions—for example, here on our island, in conservation efforts, water resource management, and climate change impacts. The data science certificate is open to all students, regardless of major or background. Computer scientist Travis Mandel, mathematician Grady Weyenberg, and colleagues across many branches of science put in untold hours to create this new data science program.

Two people with drone landed on lawn.
UH Hilo drone team took a lead role in collecting data during the recent lava flow in Puna. Photo via UH System News.

Last month, a new aeronautical sciences degree program was approved by the UH Board of Regents. The provisional bachelor of science program has two concentrations: one in commercial professional pilot training, and another in commercial aerial information technology (which utilizes drones), where there is a high projected workforce need in the state. Ken Hon, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Bruce Mathews, dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management where the program is housed, achieved a major milestone in bringing the program to life.

These are just a few of the exciting accomplishments of the semester that provide positive learning experiences for our students, conduct important research for our environment and communities, and expand outreach to improve the quality of life for everyone. Mahalo to all of you for your contributions.

Sending aloha to you this holiday season.

Marcia Sakai
Interim Chancellor

2018 Fall Food Drive underway

Non-perishable food items and monetary donations are being accepted and will be donated to the Hawai‘i Island Food Basket

Words: Food Basket Inc, Hawaii Island Food Bank. Against green image of breadfruit.The Fall Food Drive is underway at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The event, hosted by the Campus and Community Service program is happening from Oct. 29 through Nov. 14, 2018.

Non-perishable food items are accepted and will be donated to the Hawai‘i Island Food Basket. The UH Hilo goal is to raise $550.00 and collect 350 lbs of food. As of Nov. 2, $115.50 and 46.2 lbs of food has been collected.

Food donations can be left at the following locations on campus:

  • Campus Center, room 210
  • School of Education in University Classroom Building, room 313
  • Division of Student Affairs office in Student Services Center, room W-306
  • Performing Arts Center Box Office
  • Athletics Office
  • Mookini Library

Monetary donations can be made at the Campus Center Sodexo Dining Hall at each of the registers or online. Online donations should include the notation “TO UH HILO” in the memo so that it will count towards UH Hilo totals. Checks can also be made, payable to “Hawaii Island Food Basket”—the Campus Community Service office will provide pick up of checks (send an email request for pick up).

Hunger Banquet

The campus community is invited to the Hunger Banquet on Nov. 8, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., in Campus Center, room 301. The event highlights the disparity in access to food and resources globally.

Contact

Campus Community Service office.