Faculty and Admin

The two retired professors—pillars of the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management—are honored for their 87 combined years of service.

Mike Tanabe and Bill Sakai
(l-r) Mike Tanabe and Bill Sakai with koa bowls given to them to commemorate 42 and 45 years of service respectively.

Retired professors Mike Tanabe and Bill Sakai were among several widely respected faculty from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo who were honored for their years of service at a recent event hosted by Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai.

Using the controversy over genetically-modified foods as its entry point, the film Food Evolution shows how easily fear and misinformation can overwhelm objective, evidence-based analysis. UH Hilo’s Prof. Shintaku weighs in.

Michael Shintaku
Michael Shintaku

Michael Shintaku, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, is among the many scientists featured in the film Food Evolution that tackles GMO (or genetically modified organisms) in food production. The film includes footage of Hawai’i Island and is narrated by Academy Award nominee Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Dr. Shintaku stated that in 2013, the County of Hawai‘i passed a bill banning transgenic crops (GMOs) from Hawai‘i Island, with certain exceptions (later reversed in federal court). This became a national story, attracting reporters from The New York Times and other media outlets.

Professor Tanabe’s contribution and influence is evidenced by many of his former students who are now entrepreneurial owners, laboratory supervisors, and laboratory technicians in firms involved in tissue culture.

By Christopher Lu, Professor of Animal Science.

Michael Tanabe
Michael Tanabe

It is not an overstatement to say that Professor of Plant Science Michael Tanabe is synonymous to tissue culture in Hawai‘i. If you mention tissue culture in Hawai‘i, many will immediately relate to Mike Tanabe. Professor Tanabe’s contribution and influence is evidenced by many of his former students who are now entrepreneurial owners, laboratory supervisors, and laboratory technicians in firms involved in tissue culture.

After four decades of outstanding service, Professor Michael Tanabe has announced his retirement.

Professor Tanabe is an enthusiastic teacher. He is known to be a meticulous, organized and firm educator. He came to his office early, often before 6:30 a.m. to prepare for his teaching. That has not changed after more than 42 years of teaching.

The article describes the trends in milk production and consumption.

Christopher Lu
Christopher Lu

Professor Christopher Lu, professor of animal science at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, published an invited review entitled, “Dairy, Science, Society and Environment,” at the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science (July 2017).

“This article describes the trends in milk production and consumption, the debates over the role of milk in human nutrition, the global outlook of organic dairy, the abatement of green-house gas emissions from dairy animals, as well as scientific and technological developments in nutrition, genetics, reproduction, and management in the dairy sector,” explains Lu.

Originally published in CAFNRM/Ag Club Newsletter.

Professor Christopher D. Lu participated in the Chinese Sheep and Goat Association’s 30th Anniversary Conference and the International Goat Association’s Board of Director’s meeting last August.

By Norman Arancon, Associate Professor of Horticulture.

Christopher Lu
Christopher Lu

Professor of Animal Science Christopher Lu was invited to attend the Chinese Sheep and Goat Association Conference held in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China in August, 2017. The organization celebrated its 33rd anniversary and recognized individuals who made significant contributions to the association. The conference was well attended by about 800 Chinese and international participants.

Among faculty, Professor Sakai is the lead example for hands-on learning, the core philosophy of teaching and learning at the college. He retires after 45 years at UH.

By Christopher Lu, Professor of Animal Science.

Bill Sakai with student looking at orchid in greenhouse.
Professor Sakai (right) and student examine orchids at the UH Hilo Agricultural Farm Lab in Pana‘ewa. Photo by William Ing

After devoting almost his entire professional years to the University of Hawai‘i, four years at UH Mānoa and forty-one years at UH Hilo, Professor William Sakai has retired. Among faculty at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, Professor Sakai is the lead example for hands-on learning, the core philosophy of teaching and learning at the college.

In Hydroponics, one of the courses taught by Professor Sakai, learning outcome was emphasized. Students were required to obtain a successful harvest at the end of semester. While it was not unusual to hear students sweat over the outcome of the harvest, the course ensured the desirable learning outcomes are achieved.

Mathews was chosen to deliver the plenary talk because of his familiarity with Philippine agriculture and the Filipino community coupled with his global outlook in agricultural resiliency.

Group standing with awardee.
Bruce Mathew (far left) assisted with the awarding of certificate to a conference participant, Francis Estrada (center), from New York. Also pictured are members of conference organizing committee (l-r) Celia Bardwell-Jones, Rodney Jubilado and Norman Arancon. Courtesy photo.

Bruce Mathews, dean of the of the College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, provided a candid status of the Philippine agriculture and assessed its elasticity in his plenary talk entitled, “Resilience of Philippine crop production in the face of soil degradation and climate change,” given at the First International Conference on Interdisciplinary Filipino Studies held at UH Hilo in October.

Mathews opened his talk by enumerating the many challenges associated with the decline in crop productivity including soil erosion, organic matter losses and salinization that are often distended by climate change. Some of the many cultural practices that Filipinos employ to adapt to the changing agricultural landscape include sustainable nutrient management strategies such as the the timely and appropriate applications of soil amendments, reduced tillage, and integrated soil fertility management using optimal combinations of organic and chemical fertilizers.