Jun 082017

Two outstanding students received telescope time on the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope to observe dark nebulae.

Students and faculty on the Maunakea Summit.

Students and faculty on the Maunakea Summit.

EVENT: Two Maunakea Scholars from Honokaʻa High School, Hokulani Sanchez and Keilani Steele, featured presenters, Maunakea Speaker Series.
DATE: June 15, 2017.
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: Planetarium, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (campus map).

Free and open to the public.


These two outstanding students received telescope time on the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope (CFHT) to observe dark nebulae and study the connection of star formations in the galaxy.

CFHT Director Doug Simons and Outreach Manager Mary Beth Laychak will round out the presentation with details about the past, present and future of this unique education program.

The Maunakea Scholars program, led by Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope (CFHT), is a partnership between the Maunakea Observatories, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education and UH. This innovative program is designed to bring aspiring young astronomers into the observatory community by awarding observing time on world-class telescopes to Hawaiʻi high school students so they can pursue research of their own design and inspiration.

About the Maunakea Speaker Series

The Maunakea Speaker Series is a monthly scholar-focused presentation offered as a partnership among the Office of Maunakea Management, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center and the UH Hilo Department of Physics and Astronomy. The collaborative venture gives the community unprecedented access to fascinating research taking place on Maunakea and other topics unique to the island of Hawaiʻi. A venue for scholars to share their stories and learn from discussion, the series promotes understanding and collaboration across all sectors of the community, while addressing the goals of UH Hilo.

For more information visit The Office of Maunakea Management or call (808) 933-0734.


UH System News

May 262017

The awards are presented to individual students and student organizations that have excelled and contributed to the UH Hilo campus and the Hawai‘i Island community.

The Campus Center Student Leadership Development Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo recently presented the 2016-2017 Ka Lama Ku Student Leadership Recognition Awards and Certificates of Leadership.

The Ka Lama Ku Umeke Awards and a Ka Lama Ku Koa Plaque Award also were presented.


Alaka‘i—Leadership Award

Rebekah Loving with her family

Rebekah Loving with her family. Courtesy photos from the UH Hilo Student Leadership Development Program.

Rebekah Loving (Mathematics) has provided role modeling and mentorship as a volunteer at Waiakea High School where she has inspired high school students in the area of mathematics. As a volunteer, she shares new opportunities students may have in this area with learning, achievement, and connectedness to Science, Technology, Environment and Mathematics.


‘Ike Pāpālua—To Have the Gift of Vision Award

Amy Gregg & Elise Inouye

Amy Gregg (left), an instructor in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, with award recipient Elise Inouye.

Elise Inouye (Communications and Gender and Women Studies) has a deep commitment to education. During spring break she volunteered to speak to high school students on O‘ahu about gender-based inequalities, class stratification and economic disenfranchisement. She has a vision of seeing gender and women studies curriculum in high schools to connect people for positive change for our future.


Laulima Award—No Task is Too Big When Done by All Award

Justin Kwee and Jake Llaguno

Justin Araki-Kwee (left) with friend Jake Llaguno.

Justin Araki-Kwee (Computer Science & Japanese Studies) received this award for his ability to collaborate with others in the development of a smartphone-based game application named Nanja Ninja designed to assist deaf children in Japan and the USA. Araki-Kwee coordinated technical and programming advice between Hawai‘i and Japan to launch this research project currently taking place in Japan.


The Ka Lama Ku Koa Plaque Award

Alexandra Huizar & Megan Escalona

Alexandra Huizar (left) with Megan Escalona.

Alexandra Huizar (College of Business and Economics, specializing in Marketing) was awarded for her commitment and dedication in being a student leader at UH Hilo that excels in all of the five values of Ka Lama Ku. As an Alaka‘i, she is a role model in her UH Hilo activities and collaboration with other university programs as part of ‘Ike Pāpālua. Some of these are with the New Student Programs, the Vulcan Booster, Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life, UH Hilo Performing Arts and other student life activities. Huizar encourages other students to participate and become part of the UH Hilo ‘ohana by “Leading with Aloha.”


Ka Lama Ku Leadership Plaque Awards
Given to student organizations for contributions to UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Island communities.
Awardees exemplify the five values of Ka Lama Ku: Alaka‘i, ‘Ike Pāpālua, Kuleana, Laulima and Mālama.

Photo of group

The student organization Colleges Against Cancer won the ‘Ike Pāpālua Award. (Front l-r) Misty Figuera, Brittney Luna, Alexandra Huizar, Kapali Bilyeu. (Back) Kimi Taguchi, Brooke Higa, Ashley Maldonado, Jualin Sable Guting. (Missing) Kash Laeda, Ali Nakata, Norie Anne Rosal Calit, Jade Wong, Ruby Ann Sales, Ellie-Jean Kalawe, James Drescher, Sheryl Cariaga, Jayahmie Drio, Shaylyn Fujii, Erin McClure and Stacy Mae Gelacio.

Colleges Against Cancer received the ‘Ike Pāpālua Plaque Award—To Have the Gift of Vision for overcoming obstacles and challenges in the continuance of the 11th Relay for Life at UH Hilo. The students were able to plan, build, problem solve and look beyond what was needed to motivate others in moving forward from beginning to completion with advocacy against cancer that has affected many UH Hilo students, families and communities. As a fundraiser with the American Cancer Society, this organization vowed to fight cancer with the vision that cancer will no longer be a public health problem in the future. Team members are Alexandra Huizar, Brittney Luna, Ashley Maldonado, Kapali Bilyeu, Kash Laeda, Ali Nakata, Brooke Higa, Kimi Taguchi, Norie Anne Rosal Calit, Jade Wong, Misty Figuera, Jualin Sable Guting, Ruby Ann Sales, Ellie-Jean Kalawe, James Drescher, Sheryl Cariaga, Jayahmie Drio, Shaylyn Fujii, Erin McClure and Stacy Mae Gelacio.

The students of Nā Haumāna Huaka‘i i Kaho‘olawe

The students of Nā Haumāna Huaka‘i i Kaho‘olawe. (Front l-r) Sarah Kapalihiwa Bilyeu and Joshua No‘eau Kalima. (Back) Kumu Maikalani Bacling and Ka‘ikena Scanlan with Isaac Ku‘uiponohea Pang, Sophie Kaleimomi Dolera, Sheena Kau‘i Lopes. (Missing) Alana Kanahele, Aaron Kahea Morton, Ulupuamahinamaikalani Peleiholani-Blankenfeld and Kiliona Young.

The students of Nā Haumāna Huaka‘i i Kaho‘olawe traveled to the island of Kaho‘olawe during spring break by preparing themselves with networking and having multiple orientations with the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana where they learned proper protocol for their journey. The students committed themselves mentally, physically and spiritually through protocol, daily usage of Hawaiian language, and to nurture the environment and elements as Alaka‘i. Part of their Kuleana was clearing invasive grass areas and debris on the shore, restoring pathways from erosion and researching wahi pani (sacred sites). The group developed a presentation at the ‘Aha Haumana Native Hawaiian Student Leadership Conference and inspired other students to become leaders in their communities and across the ocean. Members are Sarah Kapalihiwa Bilyeu, Sophie Kaleimomi Dolera, Joshua No‘eau Kalima, Alana Kanahele, Sheena Kau‘i Lopes, Aaron Kahea Morton, Isaac Ku‘uiponohea Pang, Ulupuamahinamaikalani Peleiholani-Blankenfeld and Kiliona Young.


The Ka Lama Ku Certificate of Leadership Awards

The Alaka‘i Certificate—Leadership was awarded to Kalaiakea Blakemore (Art) for taking a lead role with the Student Art Association and the art of printmaking as a jury member with several art exhibitions.

The Kuleana Certificate—We are Accountable and Responsible was awarded to Bennjamin Siemers (Kinesiology Education) with dedication and accountability in Therapeutic Sciences and community outreach with his internship at the North Hawai‘i Community Hospital.

The 2016-2017 Psychology and Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences (PSY-KES) Peer Advising Team received this award for having the ability to recognize the roles they have with peer academic advising toward student success and being active with campus outreach. Members are Alia Alvarez, Cheyrub Cabarloc, Zach Gorski, Keian Shon, Julie Tom, Leahi Akao, Chelsea Mitsuda, Froile Queja, Kaylee Rapoza, Bennjamin Siemers, Roget Chan, Jamie Ouye and Gabriella Sanchez.

Claire Akau & Lara Hughes

Nominator Claire Akau (left) with award recipient Lara Hughes.

The ‘Ike Pāpālua Certificate—To Have the Gift of Vision was awarded to Lara Hughes (College of Business and Economics with a focus on Business Administration) for her volunteerism as a writer and with the Big Island Press Club’s vision to advance student efforts with their goals for the future.

Students from the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences graduate program Erin Busch, Kailey Pascoe, Keolohilani Lopes, Jessica Kirkpatrick, and Rose Hart won the the Mālama ‘Āina Award. Also pictured is alumnus Nathan Stevenson who was involved in planning this year’s TCBES Symposium. Courtesy photo from TCBES program.

The Mālama ‘Āina Certificate—Taking Care of the Land and Environment was awarded to a group of students from the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences graduate program for their environmental outreach and research in many areas that impact island and global communities and their teamwork at the TCBES Symposium. The students are Erin Busch, Keolohilani Lopes Jr, Kailey Pascoe, Rose Hart and Jessica Kirkpatrick.

The Mālama ‘Ohana—Taking Care of our Families was awarded to Kanani Daley (Art) for embracing her world of art through a native viewpoint and inspiring other artists to share their work in the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center.



The recognition ceremony was sponsored by the UH Hilo Campus Center Fee Board, the Ka Lama Ku Student Leadership Program and Student Advisory Council, the Student Activities Council, University Radio Hilo and Vulcan Video Productions, Ke Kalahea and the Division of Student Affairs.

May 192017

The recipients are two graduate students and two undergraduates pursuing degrees at UH Hilo.

Nicole Garcia, Heather Ah Cook, and Katherine S. Post.

UUAW 2017 scholarship winners (l-r) Nicole Garcia (Heritage Management), Heather Ah Cook (PharmD), and Katherine Post (PharmD). Not pictured: Jamae Valdez Balagot (Biology). Courtesy photo AAUW, click to enlarge.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Hilo Branch announced it has granted scholarships to four outstanding women attending the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. The AAUW, an organization that empowers girls and women on multiple fronts from education and advocacy to leadership and legislation, annually awards $4,000 in scholarships to UH Hilo graduate and undergraduate students.

This year’s recipients:

Heather Ah Cook

Heather Ah Cook is a graduate student in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. Her graduation from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is expected in May 2020. Cook is interested in the health field because of her family history—her great grandmother was a “kahuna” (expert) and made several herbal medicines to help the Native Hawaiian community. She wants to use the knowledge and discipline given by her elders to help her community.

Nicole Garcia

Nicole Garcia is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Heritage Management program (Department of Anthropology). Garcia quotes in her personal statement, “To me, anthropology is the path to understanding how humans have learned from and contributed to the condition of the world today and how they (we) will frame the future.” Her special interest is the history of the paniolos (cowboys) and the north coast of Hāmākua.

Katherine Post

Katherine Post is a graduate student in the PharmD program. Her graduation from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is expected in May 2018.  Ever since she was young, Post wanted to have a career in the medical field. She wants to be a pharmacist who works with patients to heal and recover. She herself has faced a shocking diagnosis and her journey has helped her gain empathy toward others. She is an active member in her cancer support group, Malama Ka Pili Pa‘a, which currently does a lot in the Hilo community.

Jamae Valdez Balagot

Jamae Valdez Balagot is an undergraduate student majoring in Biology with a specialization in molecular and cellular biology. When she came to Hawai‘i she didn’t know a word of English. She feels very blessed because she had the opportunity to come to Hawai‘i and experience a whole new life and have a better education system compared to the school in her hometown back in the Philippines. She aspires to be a pediatrician.

Group standing together.

THe AAUW Scholarship Committee stands with the scholarship recipients at a luncheon held in their honor in early May, Hilo Yacht Club. Courtesy photo AAUW.


Brooke Hansen

May 182017

“The Dorrance Scholarship has become a model for providing educational opportunities to first-generation college students.” — Chancellor Straney.

Ten high school seniors from Hawaiʻi Island who are enrolling this fall at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have each been awarded the Dorrance Scholarship.

“The Dorrance Scholarship has become a model for providing educational opportunities to first-generation college students,” says Don Straney, UH Hilo chancellor. “(The Dorrances’) gift helps us to address that need, which is a core part of UH Hilo’s mission.”

The 2017 Dorrance Scholarship recipients and their high schools are:

  • Jeffrey Cushing, Kealakehe High School.
  • Stephanie Lewis, Kohala High School.
  • Jaylyn Mahoe-Subica, Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School.
  • Nicole Garza, Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi.
  • Kamamaluwaiwai Wichimai, Kamehameha Schools-Hawaiʻi.
  • Chayna Yoshida, Keaʻau High School.
  • Joy Boswell, Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts and Science.
  • Emme Furuya, Hilo High School.
  • Tharin Lewi-Ohashi, Konawaena High School.
  • Alanna Pabre, Konawaena High School.

The Dorrance Scholarship was established by Bennett and Jacquie Dorrance at the Arizona Community Foundation in June 1999. The innovative, four-year, need-based award provides local students who are the first in their family to attend college, up to $10,000 a year in direct financial assistance. Recipients will also participate in a custom-designed summer bridge program, international travel, conservation experience, an entrepreneurship program and employment preparation, bringing the total estimated value of each award to more than $90,000.

The Dorrance Foundation began offering up to 10 scholarships a year to Hawaiʻi Island high school graduates attending UH Hilo in 2012. The latest awards bring the total number of recipients to 59.


Mathew Estrada, program coordinator, Dorrance Scholarship Programs, at mestrada[at]azfoundation.org or (808) 339-4500.


Media release

May 182017

Chancellor’s Scholars maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and community service.

Thirteen students from Hawaiʻi’s public and private high schools have been awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The 2017-2018 recipients and their respective high schools include:

  • Hailey Briseno, Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy
  • Kekamamakoaakaʻilihou Caceres, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Scott Dakofsky, Roosevelt High School
  • Ariana Dolan, Pearl City High School
  • Skyla Elder, Honokaʻa High School
  • Kaitlyn Evans, Kamehameha–Maui
  • Preslyn Kaanaana, Kamehameha–Kapālama
  • Polina Kozinskiy, Laupahoehoe PCS
  • Sophia Smith, Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Jaron Sugimoto, Waipahu High School
  • Naneaikealau Thomas, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi
  • Vanessa Watkins, Waiakea High School
  • Kamamaluwaiwai Wichimai, Kamehameha–Hawaiʻi

The award, valued in excess of $28,000, covers four years of tuition for students graduating from a Hawaiʻi high school who earned either a grade point average of at least 3.5, a combined 1800 SAT (reading, writing, math) or a composite score of 27 on the ACT while demonstrating leadership and/or community service.

Chancellor’s Scholars are required to enroll as full-time students and earn a minimum of 24 credits each academic year. They must also maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and participate in leadership activities and/or community service with other Chancellor’s Scholars.


Media release

May 172017

A milestone this commencement: The university celebrates the first candidates from the new Master of Arts in Heritage Management program.

A milestone took place at the 2017 Spring Commencement at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo: the university graduated its first candidates for a master of arts in heritage management.

The program’s first graduates are among candidates who petitioned for degrees and/or certificates from the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (28); College of Arts and Sciences (591); College of Business and Economics (52); College of Pharmacy (153); and Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (40); and for various post-graduate honors (25).

President Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr, of the Republic of Palau delivered the keynote address. Karla Kapo‘aiola Ahn, a performing arts major, was student speaker.

Ceremonies were held on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium.

Photos by Bob Douglas, click to enlarge.



Graduate waves to family and friends in the stands as she files in.

Candidate waves to family and friends in the stands as she enters the venue to take her seat.


Opening, Faculty Awards, and Speakers

Alexander Nagurney, instructor of psychology, is this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Alexander Nagurney, instructor of psychology, is this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Conferring of Baccalaureate Degrees

Candidate with degree cover

Big smiles all around as students commence their new life with degree in hand.


Mortarboard Communications


Hooding Ceremonies

Candidate receives hood for graduate degree.

Prof. of Anthropology Peter Mills (right) bestows candidate with hood for master of arts in heritage management. This commencement marked the first cohort to graduate from the new UH Hilo program.


Closing of Ceremonies


Graduates with Friends and Family



About the photographer: Bob Douglas is a local artist, photographer, and sometimes part-time student who volunteers his photography skills to the Office of the Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories. 

-UH Hilo Stories

May 122017

All 12 UH Hilo athletic teams had students honored.

Students and guests at reception.

The UH Hilo Student-Athlete Academic Honors Reception.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo honored 48 Vulcans who earned a 3.3 accumulative grade point average or higher at the first Student-Athlete Academic Honors Reception on April 27.

All 12 UH Hilo athletic teams had students honored. The women’s soccer team had the highest number of players honored—11. The softball team was next with nine.

UH Hilo Athletic Director Patrick Guillen was extremely proud of his student-athletes. “Our students are sometimes gone for up to two weeks at a time. It takes great discipline and organization to excel in the classroom like they do.”

UH Hilo coaches, athletic staff, faculty members and college deans attended the event. The student-athletes were encouraged to invite their favorite professor to help celebrate their achievements.

“Carrying a high GPA and playing an NCAA sport is very difficult to do,” Chancellor Donald Straney told the scholar-athletes. “It is great to see the support of the faculty here tonight. Their presence should remind you that you are not alone in this journey, you have faculty, staff and coaches supporting you.”

The inaugural event was the brainchild of Senior Woman Administrator and Compliance Officer Roxanne Levenson. “This will be an annual event. It is important to honor our scholar-athletes who are excelling in the classroom.”

Student-athletes honored

  • Baseball—Micah Carter, Austin Inouye, Phillip Steering, Dylan Sugimoto.
  • Men’s basketball—Brian Ishola.
  • Men’s Golf—Taylor Patrick.
  • Men’s Soccer—Daniel Baumgartner, Andrew Dawrs, Trenton Hooper, Kyran Johal.
  • Men’s Tennis—Ryuta Ogawa, Vaclav Slezak, Gregory Zukeran.
  • Women’s basketball—Sharlei Graham-Bernisto, Lauren Hong, Sydney Mercer, Kimberly Schmelz.
  • Softball—Briauna Carter, Toshonnie Baker, Billi Derleth, Cyanne Fernandez, Kristen Ishii, Brinell Kaleikini, Jordan Millwood, Danielle Pulido, Maria Steadmon.
  • Women’s golf—Andi Igawa, Keely Kitamura.
  • Women’s soccer—Keani Shirai, Alexa Smiley, Abcde Zoller, Kailah Buchanan, Terra Carden, Bryana-Marie Ebbers, Madison Gates, Annabel Gonzalez, Meghan Langbehn, Nicole Ramirez, Sophia Satterlee.
  • Women’s tennis—Anne Carsey.
  • Volleyball—Trixie Croad, Siera Green, Taylor Madrid, Haylee Roberts, Marley Strand-Nicolaisen, Kyndra Trevino-Scott.
  • Cross Country—Cheyana Crossman, Anna Baker Mikkelsen.

For more, read the full story on the UH Hilo Vulcans website.

May 112017

The new spectrometer is the only one in the region and substantially increases research and student training the UH Hilo Analytical Laboratory can support in and out of state.

By Susan Enright.


(Left to right) Technician Erik Johnson, Lab Manager Tara Holitzki and Prof. of Marine Science Tracy Wiegner stand next to the new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer, UH Hilo Analytical Labratory. Courtesy photos, click to enlarge.

The Analytical Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is a hub for research and training on Hawai‘i Island. The lab’s primary focus is supporting ecological research and water quality studies by providing analytical services to researchers in the UH System and federal and state agencies. The lab also provides analytical services for visiting researchers from other universities.

It is the only facility on Hawai‘i Island that trains students to use analytical instrumentation for environmental sample analysis.

Tracy Wiegner

Tracy Wiegner

The Analytical Laboratory is managed by Tara Holitzki under the direction of Tracy Wiegner, a professor of marine science who specializes in coastal water quality.

A new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer

Last year, the lab was awarded a grant of over half-a-million dollars from the National Science Foundation for the purchase and support of a new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer.

“We are now just completing its installation and the training of our staff on it,” says Wiegner.

The award is granted through the NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation Program, which, according to the NSF website, supports “research-intensive learning environments that promote the development of a diverse workforce and next generation instrumentation, as well as facilitates academic and private sector partnerships.”

Collaborators on the grant include researchers from UH Hilo, UH Mānoa, the USDA Forest Service, Stanford University, Utah State University, and Edith Cowen University Western Australia.

UH Hilo’s Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer is the only one of its kind in the state and region. It is capable of analyzing both solids and liquids including soils, plant and animal tissues, and water.

Specifically, the new spectrometer can analyze solid samples (soil, plant and animal tissue, carbonates) for stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen. Liquid samples (water catchment, shore water) can be analyzed for stable nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in nitrate, hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in water, and stable carbon isotopes in dissolved organic carbon and carbon dioxide.

Students in lab

(L-R) Sione Lam Yuen and Bryan Tonga, two UH Hilo marine science majors working as laboratory assistants funded by the HELP (Highly Engaged Learning Positions) program through the Pacific Islander Student Center, prepare samples for analysis on the new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer.

Wiegner says applications of stable isotopes in environmental science have grown exponentially in the last 20 years allowing for a greater understanding of biogeochemical cycles in natural and human-influenced ecosystems, food web structure and dynamics, animal migrations, paleoclimate, hydrology, as well as the ability to identify pollution sources and track them.

“This instrument allows for a new suite of elements in different forms to be analyzed, substantially increasing the types of studies and student training the UH Hilo Analytical Laboratory can support in and out of state,” Wiegner explains.

The UH Hilo Analytical Lab

Wiegner says the awarding of the grant speaks to the growing success of the lab facility. The laboratory was established in 2003 with NSF funding through the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research or EPSCoR, a statewide program initiated at UH Hilo to increase research and training infrastructure.

“This lab facility is hands down the greatest NSF EPSCoR success story at UH Hilo,” says Wiegner.

The lab has a statewide and international reputation for high quality and rapid services. There is an established, loyal clientele, which includes faculty and researchers from UH Hilo and UH Mānoa, as well as other state, national, and international institutions and agencies.

Clients use the laboratory’s services for research projects and hands-on student training, and often have their collaborators submit samples to the facility.

Erik Johnson stands next to the spectrometer.

Erik Johnson, an analytical laboratory technician with bachelor and master degrees from UH Hilo, will be leading the effort to get the new Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer up and running and developing new services for laboratory clients.

A good example of the lab’s current impact on the local community and economy is as a resource for agriculturalists.  Bruce Mathews, a soil scientist and dean of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Management, says the lab is increasingly being relied upon by local farmers.

“Local farmers require rapid turnaround times in order to remain competitive with respect to timely diagnosis of crop and livestock nutrition problems, optimizing management of inputs, and meeting environmental and safety regulations,” Mathews explains. “I fully expect this trend to continue.”

The facility also provides support to over 20 different undergraduate and graduate courses at UH Hilo, and provides outreach service to community members with inquiries about environmental health such as with agricultural soils and catchment water.

The lab includes analytical chemistry instrumentation for environmental samples (for example water, soil, plant, animal tissue) totaling over $1.5 million. Since its establishment, the lab is increasingly successful with over 125 clients, primarily university and government collaborators.

Bryan Tonga in lab

Student Bryan Tonga weighs out samples for analysis on the Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer.

“Revenue the lab earns is critical for growing the lab’s capacity to serve the larger scientific community while contributing to the education of our students,” says Don Straney, chancellor at UH Hilo.

Training scientists for the future

Wiegner says the Analytical Laboratory is integral to UH Hilo’s mission to inspire learning, discovery, and creativity inside and outside the classroom, and to improve the quality of life in Hawai‘i, the Pacific region, and the world.

“The expanded analyses capacity supported by the NSF grant will engage even more underrepresented students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or STEM disciplines, exposing them to cutting-edge technology and allowing them to gain practical and employable research experience,” she says.


About the authors: Susan Enright is a public information specialist in the Office of the Chancellor. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo. Tracy Wiegner contributed significantly to this report.

-UH Hilo Stories.

May 102017

Members of the UH Hilo community honored for scholarly work, innovation, and service.

Chancellor Don Straney hosted the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo 2017 Awards and Recognition Celebration on May 9. Recognized at the event were the Student Employee of the Year, UH Hilo Award recipients, retirees, and faculty and staff years-of-service milestones.



Student Employee of the Year

Raquel Zane stands with staff from the Office of the Registrar.

Raquel Zane (center) stands with staff from the Office of the Registrar. Photos by John Oshima, click to enlarge.

Raquel Zane, a registration assistant in the 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.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Alex Nagurney and Chancellor Don Straney.

Alexander Nagurney, instructor of psychology, is this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Nagurney arrived at UH Hilo in 2012 and quickly earned a reputation as an outstanding teacher. Since his arrival, he’s been a highly thoughtful and dedicated instructor of 50 courses—his students say he is amazingly effective at communicating difficult concepts in challenging subjects such as statistical techniques and research methods. He’s known for including upper level students in his research and publications, inspiring students to delve deeper into their studies and research. He has been recognized for teaching ingenuity by the Apereo Foundation in both 2015 and 2016 for his use of “gamification” techniques to enhance student engagement.

Nagurney also offers cycling classes at the Student Life Center to promote physical and mental well-being and conducts evening group study sessions for students needing assistance. He models excellence and energy in and outside of the classroom.

This award will be officially presented at Spring Commencement, but was acknowledged at this award event.

Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation

(l-r) Carolyn Ma, dean of the College of Pharmacy; Lara Gomez, recipient; Toby Taniguchi, representing the benefactor family; and Chancellor Don Straney.

Lara Gomez, director of clinical education in the 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 training and guiding 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.

The Taniguchi  Award for Excellence and Innovation is the result of a generous gift from Barry Taniguchi, CEO of KTA Superstores, in memory of his grandparents, Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi, the founders of KTA Superstores.

Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities

(l-r) Don Straney, Dianqing Sun, Leng Chee Chang, Supakit Wongwiwatthananukit and Karen Pellegrin, director of strategic planning at the College of Pharmacy.

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

Chang, Sun and Wongwiwatthananukit 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.

Outstanding University Support Employee Award

Recipient Janet Lindsey stands with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes and family and staff.

Recipient Janet Lindsey (center) stands with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes (to right of Lindsey), and family and staff.

Janet Lindsey, secretary at the North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center, received the Outstanding University Support Employee Award.

Lindsey is described by multiple nominators as the glue that holds the center 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.

Professional Staff Award

Don Straney, Lo-li Chih, and Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Marcia Sakai.

(l-r) Don Straney, Lo-li Chih, and Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Marcia Sakai.

Lo-li Chih, recently retired director of facilities planning and construction,  received the Professional Staff Award.

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.



This list covers the period from April 2016 through March 2017. Anyone retiring after March 30 will be recognized at next year’s event.

Three retirees who attended the event.

Three retirees attended the event (l-r) Lo-li Chih, Dan Brown and Thom Curtis. Chancellor Straney at far right.

  • Roberta Barra, Professor of Business Administration, 10 years.
  • Daniel Brown, Professor of Anthropology, 30 years.
  • Lo-li Chih, Director of Facilities Planning and Construction, 30 years.
  • Kathy Commendador, Associate Professor of Nursing, 9 years.
  • Thomas Curtis, professor of sociology, 21 years.
  • Ernest Kho, Associate Professor of Chemistry, 36 years.
  • Richard Koch, Certified Athletic Trainer, 8 years.
  • Arnold Miyasaki, Education Specialist in Animal Science, 27 years.
  • Cecilia Mukai, Professor of Nursing, 28 years.
  • Michael Murakami, Facilities Planner, 15 years.
  • Caroline Patao, Janitor, 6 years.
  • Helen Rogers, Librarian, 28 years.
  • Leslie Tachibana, Building Maintenance Specialist, 7 years.
  • M Tsang Mui Chung, Professor of Horticulture, 31 years.



10 years

  • Julie Adrian
  • Brian Bays
  • Erica Bernstein
  • Anita Ciarleglio
  • Bartley Frueh
  • Norbert Furumo
  • Amy Gregg
  • Miriam Jacobson
  • Glen Kagamida
  • Bryan Kim
  • Carolina Lam
  • Steven Lundblad
  • Avis Masuda
  • Cheryl Sarme
  • Todd Shumway
  • Kathleen Stacey
  • Comfort Sumida
  • Marianne Takamiya
  • Tam Vu
  • Leonard Woods

20 years 

  • Katharyn Daub
  • Catherine Gourd
  • Robert Hamilton
  • Lydia Hart
  • Kenneth Hon
  • Terrance Jalbert
  • Yolanda Keehne
  • William Mautz
  • Un Suk Kim Sugiura
  • Teresa Tsuda

30 years

  • Lo-Li Chi
  • Frederick Dela Cruz
  • Gordon Mitchell

40 years

  • William Sakai


-Details on award recipients from media release.

May 102017

UH Hilo English department announces Spring 2017 Droste Award recipients; students honored for their work in composition, fiction, playwriting, poetry and papers.

Howard and Yoneko Droste.

Benefactors Howard and Yoneko Droste. Courtesy photo.

The Department of English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo announced six student winners of Howard and Yoneko Droste Awards for excellence in writing. An additional two students received bookstore vouchers.

Brandon Ikaika Field‘s paper, “Aquaculture: Sustainable or Disdainful,” won a $250 award for Outstanding 100-Level Composition Paper. Field is majoring in agriculture with a specialty in aquaculture and minoring in marine science.

English major Kai Gaitley‘s analytical essay, “Quote Journal 2: Neoptolemus,” received a $250 award for Outstanding 200-Level English Paper.

Computer Science major Derrick O’Brien received $250 for the Writing for the Majors award for his essay, “The Effects of Radiation that Lead to the Creation of a Natural Utopia.”

English major Amanda Canda received a $250 award for Outstanding Work in Fiction for her short story, “Good Ol’ Dependable Francis.”

Geography major Zoe Whitney, who is minoring in English, was awarded $250 for Outstanding Work in Playwriting. Whitney’s one-act play is titled, “The Last Journalist.”

English major Martabella Freedman received the $500 award for Outstanding Upper-Division English Paper for her paper, “Graphic Literature: Comics as Advanced Storytelling.” Freedman also won the $250 Droste award for Outstanding Portfolio of Poetry.

In addition, two English majors, Kim Leolani Kalama and Danielle Dodge, received $250 Droste book vouchers to the UH Hilo Bookstore.

The awards are made possible by an endowment donated by the late Howard and Yoneko Droste, longtime faculty members who taught a combined total of 45 years at UH Hilo.


Media release