UH Hilo Marine Option Program students bring home awards from statewide MOP Symposium

The students were outstanding representatives of UH Hilo, and brought home four major awards, including best research presentation.

By Susan Enright.

Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez.
UH Hilo delegation to the Marine Option Program Student Symposium held April 21 at Windward Community College. (l-r) Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, Wheatley Crawley, Michelle Nason, Julia Stewart, and Nikola Rodriguez. Courtesy photo.

Three students from the Marine Options Program at the University of Hawaii at Hilo came home last weekend with four awards from the statewide MOP Student Symposium held at Windward Community College. The annual event features oral and poster presentations by undergraduate students from UH campuses around the state.

Lisa Parr
Lisa Parr

“The students were outstanding representatives of UH Hilo, and brought home four major awards, including best research presentation, which has been won by UH Hilo MOP students 24 of the past 29 years,” says Lisa Parr, instructor of marine science and a MOP faculty co-coordinator who runs and oversees the program at UH Hilo.

This year’s UH Hilo winners

  • Julia Stewart won best research presentation for her research project, “Coral Immunity: Characterization and Phylogenetic Analysis of Toll-like Receptor Genes in Montipora capitata, the Brown Rice Coral,” an ambitious project using bioinformatics. She also received the Ana Toy Ng MOP Memorial award for her outstanding contributions to MOP.
  • Wheatley Crawley won best poster presentation for her project, “Conservation and Outreach Efforts at Wai‘opae,” a project she headed. Her work can be found on the kiosk at the tidepools at Wai‘opae.
  • Michelle Nason won the John P. Craven Child of the Sea award for her work establishing a coral nursery on the big island. Her presentation’s title: “Rebuilding Hawaii’s Reefs One Frag at at Time.”

Also part of the UH Hilo delegation to the symposium:

Gina Selig, Andrea Ehlers, and Nikola Rodriguez also presented excellent projects in a very competitive field.

  • Selig presented on her internship with The Marine Mammal Center’s education program. Her presentation was titled, “Ke Kai Ola – An Education and Outreach Internship,” about encouraging middle schoolchildren to help conserve Hawaiian monk seals.
  • Ehlers presented her project, “The Renovation of the Marine Science Building Aquarium for the Display of Captive Bred Fish and Coral.” Her work can be seen in the 300 gallon tank in the hallway of the UH Hilo Marine Science Building.
  • Rodriguez presented the results of her summer internship on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Deep Sea Exploration cruise on the research vessel Okeanos. Her presentation is titled, “Quantitative and Quantitative Assessment of Underwater Video Annotations.” Examples of the video work she was doing with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) can be seen on the NOAA website: Okeanos Explorer and OER’s New Video Discovery and Access Portal.

MOP staff

MOP is found on all 10 UH campuses. There are coordinators on each campus.

At UH Hilo, in addition to Parr serving as a MOP co-coordinator, Jen Sims is the MOP/NOAA sea turtle stranding response team coordinator and faculty co-coordinator; she teaches two MOP classes, Seminar and Project. Matt Connelly is the MOP staff coordinator; he organizes the field trips and events and does logistics. On the MOP website: Contact info for the team.

 

About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.