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Manager Climate Corps
Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center

Investigating climate driven shifts in Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA for water resource and land management solutions

Hilo One Water Chemistry
Photo Credit: Louise Economy, UH Hilo

Link to Project's Final Report (June 2018)

Project Summary: Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) abundance are being quantified in association with rainfall and river discharge in Hilo Bay, in efforts to model how these pathogens vary in response to weather patterns. The abundance of these bacteria is also being determined in soils, sands, rivers, cesspools, and storm water within the Hilo watershed, to gain information on sources of these pathogens to recreational waters. Additionally, MRSA infection rates at the Hilo Medical Center is being compared with rainfall events, to assess if community members are more at risk of these infections during the wet season. These data will provide foundational information on how S. aureus and MRSA abundance will respond to a changing climate, and help guide solutions to manage the transport of such pathogens to coastal waters.

Primary Contact

Faculty Advisor

  • Tracy Wiegner, Associate Professor of Marine Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Committee Member

  • Jonathan Awaya, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Ayron Strauch, Commission on Water Resource Management, Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources

Masters Student

  • Louise Economy

Partners

  • Chad Shibuya, R.N., Infection Prevention Director, Hilo Medical Center
  • Anne Veillet, Genetics Lab, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Tara Holitzki Analytical Lab, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Lynn Morrison Anthropology Dept., University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Noelani Puniwai, Assistant Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies
  • Dr. Karen Pellegrin, Director of Continuing Education & Strategic Planning, Founding Director of the Center for Rural Health ScienceCollege of Pharmacy, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Terrance Tanaka, Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Nick Agorastos, Natural Area Reservers System, Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources
  • Lori Ueno, Hawaiʻi Department of Health
  • Ron Kaya, Hawaiʻi Department of Health

Additional Supporting Students

  • Carmen Garson-Shumay, Macalester College, Pacific Islands Internships for Exploring Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Melia Takakusagi, Biology, Students of Hawaiʻi Advanced Research Program, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
  • Mikayla Jones, Marine Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo; Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
  • Tyler Gerken Environmental Science, Pacific Islands Internships for Exploring Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo; Kamehameha Schools
  • Jazmine Panelo Marine Science, Environmental Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Project Start Date: August 2016


Researcher presenting to committee members in a room
Photo: MCC graduate student Louise Economy presents her data to the Hawaii County Council Environmental Management committee. Photo Credit: http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2017/10/04/video-staphylococcus-study-on-hawaii-island/.

Project Information

Final Report (June 2018)

Progress Report (November 2017)

Project Overview


Project in the News

Big Island Video News Story on presentation to the Hawaii County Council Environmental Management committee

UH Hilo Stories article


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Partner Agencies

UH ManoaUniversity of GuamDepartment of the Interior
USGS Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center

Contact MCC Staff

  • Sharon Ziegler-Chong: Project Coordinator
  • Phone: (808) 933-0759
  • Email: ziegler@hawaii.edu

  • Scott Laursen: Technical Projects Specialist
  • Phone: (307) 699-0123
  • Email: slaursen@hawaii.edu

The MCC partners with the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Graduate Program at UH Hilo and is a part of the larger tri-university consortium of the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center (PI-CASC).