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UH Hilo students take home awards at annual UH Systemwide symposium

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Date: Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Five students in the University of Hawaii at Hilo Marine Option Program (MOP) recently took top honors in the 25th Annual Marine Option Program Student Symposium, held on Saturday, April 19 at Maui Community College.

This year’s award for the Best Research Paper went to UH Hilo student Nathan Olsen, advised by Dr. Misaki Takabayashi, assistant professor of marine science. Olsen presented the results of a senior thesis study entitled, “Diversity and Localization of N-Fixing Bacteria in Corals: Challenging the Paradigm of Nutrient Limitation in Coral Reefs.” The evidence from Olsen’s study contradicts the well-established notion of nitrogen limitation regulation by zooxanthella productivity and provides an impetus for renewed investigation into nitrogen cycling in the coral reef ecosystem.

The Award for Best Poster went to UH Hilo students Nicholas Seferovic, Cory Hungate, Darren Roberts, and Gillian Wysock on a MOP internship project entitled, “Boat Building: Resurrection of a Lost Art.” This group of MOP students literally felt the ebb and flow of the oceans call, and undertook the process of building a boat out of a single sheet of 4 ft X 8 ft plywood by hand. Students were involved with the entire process from design, building, troubleshooting, and the final product, which was displayed during the symposium.

In addition, four other UH Hilo students presented their work at the MOP conference and were very well received, including Julien Christopher, Christeena Kelly, Sarah Rollings, and Kathy Seiber. Hungate and Seferovic presented individual research talks in addition to their group poster.

Each year students from MOP campuses across the UH System give formal presentations on their projects at the symposium. This year students and faculty were present from UH Hilo, UH Manoa, Leeward Community College, Windward Community College, and Maui Community College.

The UH Hilo MOP is a hands-on program open to students in any field of study who have an interest in the ocean. UH Hilo MOP is coordinated by John Coney, with the assistance of faculty advisors, Ms. Lisa Parr and Dr. Jason Turner. This is the 16th year that students from UH Hilo MOP have won the Best Research Paper Award at the Annual Marine Option Program Student Symposium in its 20 years of providing awards. The annual symposium rotates between UH campuses and will be hosted by UH Hilo in April 2010.

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