UH Hilo awards and recognition celebration held

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Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

Several members of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo community were honored at the 2017 End of the Year Awards and Recognition Celebration held on Tuesday, May 9.

Dr. Lara Gomez, director, clinical education, Department of Pharmacy Practice, was awarded the Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation.

Gomez is responsible for experiential education, which makes up 30 percent of the doctor of pharmacy curriculum, and prepares students for their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiential rotations, where they spend their entire fourth year at different practice settings. Gomez and her staff work with over 300 students. They also train and guide some 200 non-faculty preceptors in Hawaiʻi, the South Pacific, continental U.S. and overseas. Her interdisciplinary simulation exercises via distance learning technology utilize the UH Medical School, the UH Hilo and UH Mānoa Schools of Nursing and other programs to provide robust inter-professional experiences that teach everything from handling a difficult patient to the most current laws in pharmacy practice.

Dr. Leng Chee Chang and Dr. Dianqing Sun, associate professors, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Dr. Supakit Wongwiwatthananukit, professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and interim associate dean, Academic Affairs, received the Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities.

Chang, Sun and Wongwiwatthananukit have collaborated with the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center and universities in Thailand on their nearly decade-long research on “Natural Product-Driven Drug Discovery from Vernonia cinerea (VC).” Their research showed significant bioactivity from VC with no serious adverse effects and discovered new VC-derived compounds that suppress cancer growth and show anti-inflammatory activity. Their work has been recognized in numerous publications while earning them grant funding and a recent patent award. They are also co-investigators on a new five-year federal grant that will move them closer to their vision of safe and effective cancer treatment and prevention.

The Professional Staff Award was presented to recently retired Director of Facilities Planning and Construction Lo-Li Chih.

Colleagues consider Chih the foremost expert on facilities planning and construction. As a top-level advisor, he has contributed and advocated for UH Hilo in major construction projects, including the Student Life Center, Science and Technology Building, Haleʻōlelo, and Student Services Center. He also oversaw completion of complex federal grant-funded initiatives such as the Pacific Islander Student Center, Hale Kanilehua Living Learning Communities, Kipuka Native Hawaiian Student Center, and Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center. Chih initiated cost saving projects in renewable energy and utility monitoring and created “bus shelter” food concessions to address student preferences for additional food vendors on campus.

North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center (NHERC) Secretary Janet Lindsey received the Outstanding University Support Employee Award.

Lindsey is described by multiple nominators as the glue that holds NHERC together. From booking room reservations and processing personnel and fiscal paperwork to participating in outreach events and training and orienting new staff and directors, her role supports every aspect of operations at the Center. Outside of her assigned duties, Lindsey develops relationships with students, vendors and community members then leverages those relationships to strengthen community capacity building.

Raquel Zane, registration assistant, Office of the Registrar, was named Student Employee of the Year.

Co-workers say Zane possesses in-depth knowledge of University policies and procedures with an eye for detail. Her troubleshooting talents gained noteworthy attention this past year when a change in processing class withdrawals produced a flawed report. Zane’s discovery of the error and remedy earned the gratitude of the UH System Banner Central Office for a job well done. She also facilitated the most recent Fall Registration training and oversaw training for new student assistants.

The event also recognized retired employees and those receiving various years of service awards.

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