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Stories of Excellence 2012-13

UH Hilo Students

Marissa LovingMarissa Loving - Math & Computer Science Major

A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo senior majoring in mathematics and computer science has been awarded a 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP).

Marissa Loving was among 70 math students chosen from more than 13,000 applicants for the prestigious award, which is open to U.S. citizens who are graduating college seniors as well as first- and second-year Ph.D. students. The fellowship includes $100,000 over three years to pursue her graduate studies in Mathematics. Her excellent academic achievements and community outreach earned her multiple distinguished awards for a grand total of $500,000 to support her graduate degree. UH Hilo Professor, Dr. Reni Ivanova is the NSF GRFP Resource Person and Loving's mentor.

Read more information about the Mathematics Program at UH Hilo.


Team Poli‘ahuTeam Poli‘ahu - Computer Science Majors

A team of four UH Hilo Computer Science students were selected from hundreds of entries nationwide to win the 2013 Microsoft U.S. Imagine Cup. This premier student competition honors technology innovations that address the world's toughest problems.

Team Poli‘ahu's application, "Help Me Help," is a program that aids the community in disaster situations by allowing users to upload images of nearby hazards through the use of smartphones. As recipients of the National Team Award, Team Poli‘ahu will represent the U.S. in the Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia. Associate Professor H. Keith Edwards is their teacher at UH Hilo.

Featured from left to right: Ryder Donahue, Kayton Summers, Wallace Hamada, Professor Edwards and Mike Purvis.

Read more information about the Computer Science Program at UH Hilo.


Robert PipesRobert Pipes - Physics & Astronomy Major

Junior Robert Pipes has been accepted to the National Undergraduate Fellowship Program through the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). This summer, Pipes will attend a one-week series of lectures on plasma physics at Princeton University before beginning a nine-week research project with Dr. David Pace at the General Atomics DIII-D tokamak in San Diego, California. His project will involve tracking high-energy ions to model heat loss along the walls of the reactor.

Dr. Marianne Takamiya, UH Hilo Assistant Professor of Astronomy, said, “Robert is the first student from UH Hilo to be admitted to the PPPL Internship, where students typically go on to top-notch universities or companies following their undergraduate work.”

Read more information about the Physics Program at UH Hilo.


Ashlee KalauliAshlee Kalauli - Mathematics Major, Chemistry Minor

UH Hilo student Ashlee Kalauli has earned numerous academic honors and awards, including the Ke Ali‘i Pauahi Foundation and Hawai‘i Noyce Teacher's Scholarships, the Pearson Undergraduate Mathematics Award and the Pearson Outstanding Mathematics Senior Award. She was also among a select group of students chosen for the 2012 Pacific Undergraduate Research Experience in Mathematics (PURE Math) Program and has presented her research at two national conferences. Ashlee represented the Class of 2013 as student speaker at the UHH Spring Commencement on May 11, 2013. UH Hilo Assistant Professor, Dr. Roberto C. Pelayo is Ashlee's mentor.

Read more information about the Mathematics Program at UH Hilo.


Corie YangerCorie Yanger - Environmental Sciences Major

UH Hilo student Corie Yanger was selected for the highly competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Award (GRFP) in Environmental Sciences of $30,000 over 2 years to pursue her graduate studies.

As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of highly successful recipients. Corie's graduate studies will focus on comparative soil seed survival and the effect of fungal pathogens on native and nonnative seeds in Hawai‘i Island's lowland wet forests. Her long-term goal is to establish a school for ecology and conservation on the Big Island. UH Hilo Professor, Becky Ostertag is Corie's advisor.

Read more information about the Environmental Sciences Program at UH Hilo.


Matthew Luga & Robyn TaniguchiRobyn Taniguchi & Matthew Luga - Accounting & Business Administration Majors

Two UH Hilo students from the College of Business and Economics (CoBE) posted top scores during recent competition in the Business Strategy Game (BSG). Matthew Luga’s Company A in Industry 3 and Robyn Taniguchi’s Company D in Industry 4, outperformed 99.47% of the BSG competition, which includes 5,502 teams from 330 colleges and universities worldwide. Each compiled the maximum possible weighted score of 110 and were among 29 competitors who tied for first place during the week ending April 14, 2013.

The Business Strategy Game is a computerized strategic management program in which students run a simulated company over a number of decision periods, responding to competition and changing market conditions. Dr. Emmeline de Pillis is their professor at UH Hilo.

Featured from left to right: Robyn Taniguchi and Matthew Luga.

Read more information about the College of Business and Economics (CoBE) at UH Hilo.


Jordan BledsoeJordan Bledsoe - Physics & Astronomy Major

UH Hilo student Jordan Bledsoe, was one of six selected out of 180 applicants to participate in the highly competitive Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program supported by the National Science Foundation.

Jordan will be working at the Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket, Massachusetts for 10 weeks under the mentorship of a professor from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Her research project will involve the study of the structure and evolution of clusters of galaxies. Dr. Marianne Takamiya is Jordan’s professor at UH Hilo.

Read more information about the Astronomy Program at UH Hilo.


Kristi MasuharaKristi Masuhara - Biology Major

UH Hilo student Kristi Masuhara presented her research at a colloquium at The Menninger Clinic, an affiliate of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Her talk, titled “Child Soldiers: Post-Conflict Reintegration and Rehabilitation Outcomes,” focused on the exposure to violence and traumatic events experienced by child soldiers in Uganda. While in Houston, she also assisted in interviewing a former U.S. President and a former Texas Governor.

Dr. B. Christopher Frueh, Professor of Psychology, is Kristi’s mentor at UH Hilo. Kristi is co-authoring a paper, “Documented suicides within the British Army during the Crimean War 1854-1856,” with Dr. Frueh and Assistant Professor of History, Dr. Jeffrey A. Smith.

Read more information about the Psychology Program at UH Hilo.

Distinguished Alumni

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Alumni and Friends Association's Distinguished Alumni Award is one of the most prestigious awards a UH Hilo graduate (or former student) can receive. It recognizes outstanding former students of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, even from the University's inception as a two-year institution. Selection is based upon professional accomplishments and service to UH Hilo and the community. The 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Bishop Eric Matsumoto, Ms. Valerie Takata and Dr. Larry Kimura.


Bishop Eric MatsumotoBishop Eric Matsumoto - BA '83

Eric Matsumoto is the 16th Bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai’i, the state’s largest Buddhist denomination. He is the third-youngest minister in the history of the mission to assume the title of bishop. Matsumoto preaches peace is “a living entity, not an inanimate object or thing,” and stresses that it must be nurtured to grow. Born and raised in the coffee-growing community of Honaunau on the Big Island, he is a graduate of Konawaena High School and a recipient of the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship. Matsumoto has a master’s degree in Shin Buddhism from Ryukoku University and was resident minister of Moiliili Hongwanji on Oahu for eight years. He has also served at Big Island temples in Paauilo, Honokaa, Waimea and Kohala.


Valerie TakataMs. Valerie Takata - BA '72

Ms. Valerie Takata is the State of Hawaii, DOE Complex Area Superintendent for the Hilo and Waiakea District. Prior to her appointment in February 2002, Takata served as Hawaii District Superintendent and Deputy District Superintendent. During her administration at Keonepoko Elementary School, she was selected as the State of Hawai’i’s National Distinguished Principal. Takata is a strong supporter of the highly successful “Journey Through the Universe” program, and a pioneer of the Huiana Student Internship Initiative, which is the state’s only islandwide internship program. Takata has been credited with co-founding a landmark business-education partnership, establishing an alliance between businesses, the community, the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and the Department of Education.


Larry KimuraDr. Larry Kimura - MA '02; PhD '12

Dr. Larry Kimura is recognized as the grandfather of the movement to perpetuate the use of Hawaiian language in modern Hawai’i, and has a PhD in Indigenous Language Revitalization. As the Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Language and Culture, Kimura has spent twenty years creating audio documentation of the last native Hawaiian language speakers. He is co-founder of Hawai’i’s Punana Leo Hawaiian Language Immersion Schools and Chairman of the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee to create new Hawaiian words. Kimura also serves as Hawaiian Cultural Planner and Interpreter for the University of Hawai’i at Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Center.