Current Research Projects

Marshallese canoe on the oceanThe Marshallese canoe Jitdam Kapeel sails from Majuro to Aur, June 2015

Cultural Revival of Marshallese Wayfinding

Under the guidance of Ben Finny, co-founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, my PhD research (2005-2007) was an inter-disciplinary and collaborative project on the revitalization of voyaging and navigation in the Marshall Islands. Partnering with apprentice navigator Alson Kelen of the canoe building organization Waan Aelon in Majol (Canoes of the Marshall Islands) , this ongoing project involves working with navigator Captain Korent Joel and other experts to document their understanding of how islands can be remotely sensed from disrupted wave patterns. Alson and I are currently collaborating with oceanographer Gerbrant van Vledder from Delft University of Technology and physicist John Huth from Harvard University to develop a computer model of the wave patterns, with the ultimate goal of facilitating the transfer of knowledge to the next generation of mariners. This research has recently been featured in the New York Times magazine.

Marshallese Diaspora in Hilo

Living in Hilo amidst a diasporic Marshallese community, I am committed to understanding and ultimately helping to lessen the tensions that have arisen between recent Compact of Free Association (CoFA) migrants and other communities in Hawaiʻi. In partnership with the Pacific Islander Student Center (PISC) and Micronesians United - Big Island (MU-BI) , I am currently facilitating a student-led ethnographic interview-based project to allow Marshallese and other Micronesian voices to be heard. Three students, Mylast Bilimon, Conny Livai, Jr., and Attok Nashon co-presented a paper based on this research, titled "We are Like Wandering Birds Looking for our Nest": Marshallese Voices on Ethnic Tensions in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, at the 2016 Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Mylast Bilimon, Conny Livai, Jr., and Attok Nashon present in Vancouver, CanadaMylast Bilimon, Conny Livai, Jr., and Attok Nashon attend a presentation in Vancouver.

Mylast Bilimon, Conny Livai, Jr., and Attok Nashon enjoy snow in VancouverThe group experiences the snow in Vancouver, Canada.