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Tag: Workforce Development

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 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

UH Hilo announces 2018-2019 Chancellor Scholarship recipients

UH Hilo seal, red lettering University of Hawaii and the state motto.The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo announced today 13 students from public and private high schools in Hawai‘i will be the incoming cohort of Chancellor Scholars this fall.

The 2018-2019 Chancellor Scholarship recipients

  • Michelle Biete, Leilehua High School.
  • Rod Neil Burbano, Honoka‘a High School.
  • Maria dePillis-Shintaku, Waiakea High School.
  • Caleb Kow, Kealakehe High School.
  • Amanda Kurano, University Laboratory School.
  • Christian Lopez, Kapolei High School.
  • Nevan Lowe, Waialua High School.
  • Alyssa Mathews, Waiakea High School.
  • Tara Marie Takafuji, Waiakea High School.
  • Trayden Tamiya, Waiakea High School.
  • Emily Travis, Mililani High School.
  • Chloe Waters, Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i Campus.
  • Megan Woolsey, James Campbell High School.

The scholarship

Each scholarship is valued in excess of $29,000 and covers four years tuition for students graduating from a Hawai‘i high school who have earned either a grade point average of at least 3.5, a combined 1800 SAT (reading, writing, math), or a composite score of 27 on the ACT, while demonstrating leadership and/or community service.

All Chancellor Scholars are required to enroll as full-time students, and earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year. Each scholar must also maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and/or community service with other Chancellor Scholars.

 

Media release.

Interim Chancellor’s Monthly Column: Spring 2018: An exciting semester of positive learning experiences for our students and community

Here are a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead.

As UH Hilo heads toward the end of the spring 2018 semester and commencement, I’d like to share a few highlights with you.

Student accomplishments

Earlier in the semester, three UH Hilo students each received a 2018 UH President’s Green Initiative Award recognizing their initiative, innovation, creativity and civic engagement in campus and community sustainability with cash prizes. Kasey Buchanan received the Johnson Controls Green Leader Award for a campus waste reduction project. Kara Spaulding received the HEI Charitable Foundation Green Leader Award for developing sustainability curriculum in the arts and perpetuating natural and cultural resources. Zoe Whitney received an honorable mention for producing a UH Hilo Carbon and Nitrogen Report Card.

Group of students stand with representative.
State Rep. Mark Nakashima (center) stands with UH Hilo HOSA delegates (l-r) Jeremy Villanueva, Lark Jason Canico, Kelly Gani, Leslie Arce, Travis Taylor, Sheldon Cabudol and Deserie Pagatpatan. Missing: Daniel Kimura, Kateleen Caye Bio and Kendrick Justin Dalmacio. Courtesy photo.

UH Hilo students excelled at the 13th Annual Health Occupation Students of America–Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference held on O‘ahu in February. All 10 UH Hilo delegates competing at the conference placed in their events, with one team taking first place in their category. In the process, students honed public speaking and interpersonal communication skills, gained knowledge, and networked.

Three students from the Marine Options Program at UH Hilo came home in April with four awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held on O‘ahu. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate students from around the state. This year’s UH Hilo winners: Wheatley Crawley for best poster presentation (conservation at Wai‘opae), Michelle Nason received the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award (project on a coral nursery), and Julia Stewart won best research project (coral research using bioinformatics) and the Ana Toy Ng MOP Memorial award (for contributions to MOP).

These accomplished students—and many others too many to name here in this column—are already contributing in positive ways to local and global communities. Their research, leadership, sustainability, conservation and community-based projects are making an impact. I look forward to seeing more of their academic accomplishments and their work in the world after graduation.

Community

Group with sign Blue Zones Project Approved, sponsor logos.
Group gathers at event celebrating Blue Zones Project Approved status.

In April, UH Hilo received official designation as a Blue Zones approved workplace. The Blue Zones project is a worldwide initiative to promote healthy living and long lives. UH Hilo now joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy practices. As an institution of higher learning, we are already well-versed in developing healthy minds. We can now look forward to taking that next step to promoting overall physical well-being. Activities on campus include walking groups, healthy cooking demonstrations, and many other wellness pursuits.

The iconic Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūle‘a, visited Hilo in April as part of its statewide “Mahalo Hawaiʻi Sail” as the crew expresses mahalo to numerous communities for their support of the three-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage from 2014 to 2017. UH Hilo co-hosted an educational expo in April at Wailoa Pier where hundreds of schoolchildren and others from the East Hawai‘i community enjoyed tours of the Hōkūle‘a and hands-on educational activities to showcase ocean navigation’s connection to science, math, culture and conservation (photos). We’re proud of our very own Pwo Navigator and Captain Kālepa Baybayan and the many other people from the UH Hilo ‘ohana who participated in the worldwide voyage and the recent expo.

Public tours of Hōkūle‘a. UH Hilo co-sponsored Educational Expo, Wailoa Pier, Hilo.

A panel discussion on incorporating Hawaiian cultural knowledge with modern western science to meet the sustainability challenges facing Hawai‘i today was held at UH Hilo in February. The discussion was part of the 6th Annual Hawai‘i Sustainability in Higher Education Summit held over the course of three days on Hawai‘i Island. Delegations from all 10 UH campuses gathered to learn from local practitioners, national experts, and each other, and to set the action agenda for upcoming campus initiatives.

Looking forward

On July 1st, the new College of Natural and Health Sciences will be established. It will house the current Division of Natural Sciences, School of Nursing, and Department of Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences. Jim Beets, professor of marine science and current chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, has agreed to serve as the interim dean of the new college. A national search for a permanent dean will soon be launched.

And we have a recent update from UH President David Lassner about the search for the next permanent UH Hilo chancellor, now expected to be completed by the end of 2018 with our new leader in place in spring 2019.

These are just a few of the exciting things happening at UH Hilo as we work together to provide positive learning experiences and support to prepare students to thrive, compete, innovate and lead. I wish you all a safe and wonderful summer.

Aloha,

Marcia Sakai