Fellowships awarded to UH Hilo students support future environmental leaders’ graduate studies

The overall goal of the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation fellowships is to develop the next generation of natural resource management leaders in Hawai‘i.

Profile photos of six fellows with logos of UH Hilo and the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation.
Hauʻoli Mau Loa fellows from UH Hilo are, from top left, new graduate students Anna Ezzy, Bronwyn Kay, and Kalena Shiroma, and bottom row, second-year graduate students Kūpono Aguirre, Matthew Dye, and Avalon Paradea. (Courtesy profile photos)

By Susan Enright.

Three new graduate students in the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo were selected to receive Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation fellowships. The overall goal of the fellowships is to develop the next generation of natural resource management leaders in Hawai‘i.

There are also three returning fellows in their second year of graduate studies.

The students were chosen because of their strong academic records as undergraduates, their connections to and integration with the local conservation community, their passion for the ‘āina and keen interest in preserving and protecting natural resources, and their commitment to a career that works toward preserving and sustaining the local environment.

In addition to a tuition waiver, the students receive a regular stipend and funds for supplies and professional development for two years.

New Fellows

Anna Ezzy

Anna Ezzy pictured
Anna Ezzy

Ezzy is on a thesis track with advisor Professor of Geography and Environmental Sciences Kathryn Besio. Ezzy has been working in local agriculture with the Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Co-op in Hilo for two years. Exploring both conservation and agriculture in Hawai‘i, her proposed research looks at the interactions of post-plantation land management, soil fertility, biodiversity, and food access.

“With the support of the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation graduate fellowship, I am poised to ask the necessary questions to help transform Hawai‘i agriculture into a means of conservation—boosting climate resilience and fostering ecological diversity—while serving as a mode of economic self-sufficiency for local farmers,” she says

Bronwyn Kay

Bronwyn Kay pictured
Bronwyn Kay

Kay is on an internship track and plans to work with the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration or The Nature Conservancy at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Lisa Canale, UH Hilo coordinator for the professional internship track, serves as her professional internship advisor.

“My desire is to work alongside these organizations to vaccinate and tag Hawaiian monk seals as well as monitor honu, nene, and shearwaters while insuring their protection and habitat preservation,” says Kay. “The graduate program will assist me in fostering relationships with organizations in Hawai‘i to guide my career path in conservation, strengthening my connections, and building my professional network as I conduct meaningful research in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.”

Kalena Shiroma

Kalena Shiroma pictured
Kalena Shiroma

Shiroma is on a thesis track with Professor of Geography Jonathan Price as her advisor in analyzing field data collections from the U.S Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program in forested regions throughout the state of Hawai‘i.

“The goal is to assess data recorded over the past two decades and form viable and practical solutions toward furthering conservation management protocols today,” explains Shiroma.

Second-Year Fellows

Kūpono Aguirre

Kūpono Aguirre pictured
Kūpono Aguirre

Aguirre is on a thesis track with Professor of Biology Becky Ostertag as his advisor on researching seed dispersal of feral pigs in Hawaiian forests.

“I am grateful for Hau‘oli Mau Loa allowing me to do research on something that I love while having the opportunity to remain in Hawaiʻi,” he says. “Examining this facet of our environment will help develop a deeper picture of our forests and how they work, which can help shape management decisions for the future.”

Matthew Dye

Matthew Dye pictured
Matthew Dye

Dye is on a thesis track with Associate Professor of Aquaculture Armando Garcia-Ortega as advisor. Dye is working on a feed trial to test soldier fly larvae protein meal as a replacement for fish meal protein in fish feeds.

“With the generous stipend and fellowship funds, I have been allowed to focus all of my efforts on school with little stress on how to survive day to day and week to week,” he says. “If not for the Hau‘oli Mau Loa Fellowship, I may not have been able to afford this graduate program, so I am extremely grateful and humbled to have their support. Mahalo nui loa for your faith and aloha.”

Avalon Paradea

Avalon Paradea pictured
Avalon Paradea

Paradea is working with the South Kohala Coastal Partnership and affiliated organizations, where she engages in a variety of projects in the Kohala region, with an underlying theme of connecting people with ‘āina and facilitating opportunities for residents to develop meaningful pilina (relationships) with the landscape. Lisa Canale, UH Hilo coordinator for the professional internship track, serves as her professional internship advisor.

“I am beyond grateful for the financial assistance of Hau‘oli Mau Loa,” she says. “Thanks to their generosity, I am able to accomplish my academic goals by enhancing my ‘ike of our natural world, which will allow me to further diffuse and perpetuate this knowledge within our community.”

By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. 

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