UH Hilo students win top awards at statewide marine symposium

UH Hilo students win three of the six awards at UH statewide marine science symposium.

Screenshot of participants in virtual symposium.
The 2022 UH Marine Option Program’s symposium was held virtually on April 16. Three UH Hilo students coveted top awards for their projects. (Courtesy screenshot)

By Susan Enright.

Logo: Marine Option Program University of Hawaii, with a wave.Three students from the Marine Option Program (MOP) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo won top awards at the annual UH System MOP Symposium held virtually on April 16, 2022.

“The UH systemwide Marine Option Program turned 50 this year, and this was the 39th annual statewide MOP Symposium,” says Lisa Parr, UH Hilo MOP program chair. “UH Hilo MOP students consistently bring home awards with their outstanding projects. We’re very proud of these talented and hardworking students, and their excellent representation of UH Hilo.”

UH Hilo students brought home three of the six symposium awards.

Green sea trutel on beach.
Olivia Jarvis won Best Research Project at the 2022 Marine Option Program Symposium. In Jarvis’s project, she analyzed a long-term turtle tagging dataset of the Punalu’u Hawaiian green sea turtle population. (Courtesy photo)

Olivia Jarvis won Best Research Project for her work on “Observing patterns in UH Hilo MOP turtle tagging data through statistical analysis.” Jarvis’s mentors are George Balazs, a retired sea turtle biologist from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and John Burns, assistant professor of marine science at UH Hilo. The work entailed organizing and analyzing a long-term turtle tagging dataset of the Punalu‘u Hawaiian green sea turtle population, compiled between 1978 and 2018, to find trends and identify potential relationships among variables for ongoing analysis. Jarvis’s report offers insight into how past data were collected and identifies directions for future data collection and analysis. Continued analysis of this long term data set will provide a basis for better understanding of the turtle population.


Lily Gavagan and Olivia Jarvis pictured.
Lily Gavagan (left) and Olivia Jarvis after the marine science symposium on April 16, 2022. Both won awards for their projects (Courtesy photo)

Underwater SCUBA diver collects reef data.
Lily Gavagan was awarded Best Internship Project at the 2022 Marine Option Program Symposium for her work on analyzing coral reef data from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Courtesy photo)

Lily Gavagan was awarded Best Internship Project for her work on “Analyzing coral reef health at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.” Gavagan’s mentors are Atsuko Fukunaga, an ecological research statistician from NOAA, and Assistant Professor Burns. The work included an analysis of coral reef data collected on annual research expeditions from 2014 to 2021 led by NOAA to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The analysis detected significant relationships, associations, and correlations between coral health conditions and other factors, including location, size, and morphology. She found there is a significant difference in colonies labeled as healthy among regions, and there is a significant correlation between healthy colonies and size as well as depth. From these results, additional statistical models can be used to further understand these relationships.

Dylan A‘ali‘i Kelling pictured
Dylan A‘ali‘i Kelling won the Sherwood Maynard Award for Ocean Impact at the 2022 UH Marine Option Program Symposium held April 16. He was awarded for developing ways to integrate Native Hawaiian cultural protocols into fieldwork and courses in marine science. (Courtesy photo)

Dylan A‘ali‘i Kelling won the Sherwood Maynard Award for Ocean Impact for his project “Hoe! ‘Ō, ‘Ō, ‘Ō ia!: Integrating traditional Hawaiian protocols into marine field and lab courses.” Kellings mentor is Parr, who in addition to managing MOP is also an instructor of marine science. Kelling worked with Parr, the UH Hilo faculty development program, and the marine science department to introduce traditional Hawaiian protocols such as oli (chant) and kīpaepae (welcoming ceremony) into fieldwork and courses, an act of cultural value showing respect for the natural world and maintaining the balance between humans and the universe. Following this protocol support’s UH’s initiative to transform the institution into an indigenous center of learning that demonstrates responsibility to the ‘āina (land), shows respect to the host culture, and practices pono (beneficial) science.

Two other UH Hilo students also presented for UH Hilo. Parr says they were “strong contenders in a competitive field with their projects.”

Rylee Clark presented her work on “Social media management: Development of the UH Hilo MOP YouTube Channel.” And Brooke Enright presented her project on “Analyzing water quality at Keaukaha Hawai‘i to determine major sources of pollution.”

“Excellent work all around,” says UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin. “It is so wonderful to see the accomplishments of these students. Many thanks to their faculty mentors as well.”


By Susan Enright, 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.