Marine science majors Kara Murphy and Cecelia Rudo will apply the monetary awards to their projects focused on engaging the community in ocean conservation.
Two students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have been selected to receive $1,000 each through a new award program aimed to support students in completing projects focused on the conservation of ocean resources.
Kara Murphy and Cecelia Rudo are among 10 recipients from the 10-campus UH System to receive the Ocean Conservation Awards, funded by a donation from the Global High Seas Marine Preserve organization and administered by the UH Foundation. The student awardees were chosen by faculty mentors. The projects will be completed during the 2021-2022 academic year.
“Kara and Cecelia are excellent marine science students who both have the drive to contribute to ocean conservation with projects that benefit the community and engage with local students,” says Lisa Parr, instructor of marine science and chair of the Marine Option Program at UH Hilo. She serves as a mentor to both Murphy and Rudo.
Each of the 10 students chosen has a faculty mentor who are experts on ocean conservation issues. Parr will guide the development and implementation of Murphy and Rudo’s student projects throughout the academic year.
Kara Murphy: Educating the public about the impact of plastics in the ocean
Murphy, a freshman majoring in marine science, will focus on ways to educate the public about the serious impacts non-compostable plastics on marine life. Parr says the benefit of this project is in “helping to spread community awareness of the impacts of plastics on the ocean, and in finding possible solutions.”
Murphy describes her project:
“The non-compostability of plastic is a growing problem in Hawai‘i and globally, and the Big Island has no effective recycling program. From the ingestion and entanglement of wildlife, to the spread of coral disease, plastic pollution is having devastating effects on the marine environment. Working with a group of local high school students, I will oversee the creation of a media campaign and community outreach program to increase awareness and work towards reduction of plastic usage in the Hilo community, and to get local students involved in marine conservation. I will also be working on an interactive campus demonstration at UH Hilo to spread awareness among the student body.”
Cecelia Rudo: Developing community-based coral reef conservation training
Cecelia Rudo, a senior majoring in marine science, will investigate ways to expand community-based coral reef observation training in East Hawaiʻi. She’ll be working with Eyes of the Reef Hawaiʻi, a statewide organization dedicated to reef preservation. Along with Parr, Lindsey Kramer, a coral reef conservationist with Eyes of the Reef, also serves as a mentor to Rudo during the project.
Rudo summarizes the focus of her project:
“Eyes of the Reef (EOR) is a citizen science based program that aims to educate, inform, and train community members on corals and their health. My project will use EOR as a platform to create an educated team at UH Hilo. The goal of the EOR UH team will be to have students trained in identifying coral species, diseases, coral bleaching, and invasive species affecting coral. I plan on expanding the EOR team outside of the college into the local community and holding training seminars at local schools. EOR allows community members to be engaged and educated about the reefs around them, and my project will bring this resource to the community.”
Parr says most families in Hilo have strong ties to the ocean, and are knowledgeable ocean users, and this project will be beneficial by helping get more local “eyes on the reef” to support the community in monitoring and protecting their reefs.
Learn more about the award and other UH recipients at UH System News.
Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.