Skip to main content

SHARP Newsletter

SHARP Newsletter, NIH Grant Year 4 and Year 5

Download the full newsletter PDF or view the abridged version below.

Message from Director Lynn Morrison

Dr. Lynn Morrison

A Time for Celebration! SHARP has just finished its most successful year out of this 5-year program! Congratulations to all the SHARP students and mentors for this fabulous YEAR 4! We had a full crew with 12 undergraduate and 2 graduate students, with a little flux here and there. Seven SHARP students shined at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), an NIH-sponsored event attended by 5500 participants. Our students presented, networked, participated, and workshopped to solidify their futures with several going off to graduate school in the Fall and establishing REUs for the summer.

Melanie Sinche (Next Gen PhD) and Dr. Keoni Kauwe gave dynamic motivational talks highlighting exciting careers, and happiness, in the biomedical field. We’d like to thank all of our current mentors for their dedication, presence, and role-modelling in the lab and outside of it. Mahalo to the SHARP students for supporting each other and your commitment to showing up and doing the work in lab and in class! We welcome Misty Pacheco (Kinesiology) to our crew and continued gratitude to Lisa Muehlstein’s facilitation of our SHARP classes. Lenard Allen keeps us afloat, coordinated, and grounded in enabling our daily activities while Ghee Tan and Cheryl Ramos are integral in keeping us moving forward. Mahalo to Kerri Inglis and Hualani Loo for their guidance in our accomplishments. Our achievements are ALL of your successes!

COVID-19 has caused some wrinkling of our plans. However, living through a pandemic is an extremely exciting time for researchers and one that will be historically significant in microbiology, immunology, virology, epidemiology, psychology, biology, anthropology and bioinformatics. We will see the collaboration and crossing of disciplines in ways we had not previously conceived as we work with economists, geographers, philosophers, sociologists, city planners, educators, and so many others. We might not be able to do exactly what we had expected this summer but it is an intellectually stimulating time to reflect on our current research and become creative as we plan for the upcoming months.

ABRCMS Conference November 2019 Anaheim Convention Center SHARP Student Research Posters Presented

Evangeline Lemieux

Seven UH Hilo SHARP undergraduate students had their abstracts accepted to present at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) held at the Anaheim Convention Center November 13, 2019 - November 16, 2019. ABRCMS is one of the largest conferences of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students attend this conference to enhance professional development skills, explore graduate schools, network with fellow researchers and have contact with experts in the field of scientific research. Through the submission of abstracts students are chosen to present posters as lead authors on work they are engaged in under the guidance of their mentors. The following student posters were presented:

Kieran-Tiaye Long
  • Keinan B. Agonias: “Antibacterial Effects of Metrosideros polymorpha on Colony Forming Units of Pathogenic Bacteria.” Co-author faculty mentor Dr. Stan Nakanishi.
  • Maya Sunshine P. Bernardo: “Effects of Cortisol and Fat Distribution Pre- and Post-season of Women Student-athletes Volleyball Season.” Co-author faculty mentor Dr. Lincoln Gotshalk.
  • Duke E. Escobar: “Antibacterial Effect on Pathogenic Bacteria of Metrosideros polymorpha Liko Extract.” Co-author faculty mentor Dr. Stan Nakanishi.
  • Evangeline Lemieux: “Stress and Recovery After Kilauea Eruption.” Co-author faculty mentor Dr. Lynn Morrison.
  • Kieran-Tiaye A. Long: “Investigating the Effects of Social Stress on Light-avoidance Behavior in Planaria.” Co-author faculty mentor is Dr. Stan Nakanishi.
  • Dallas Tada: “Development of Polymeric Nanoparticles of Natural Polyphenols for Improved Oral Delivery.” Tada’s coauthor and faculty mentor is Dr. Abhijit Date.
  • Joshua Turner: “Kilauea Lava Animal Rescue.” Co-author faculty mentor Dr. Lynn Morrison.
Group of UH Hilo students at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students held in Anaheim, Calif., in November. Front, from left, Joshua Turner, Keinan B. Agonias, and Dallas Tada. Back row, from left, Evangeline Lemieux, Maya Sunshine P. Bernardo, Duke E. Escobar, and Kieran-Tiaye A. Long. The students presented their research at the conference. Courtesy photo.
Keinan Agonias
SHARP student, Maya Bernardo volunteers to educate other students about the SHARP program, and encourages them to join.

Our SHARP students were among approximately 5,500 participants representing more than 350 institutions. They attended the four-day conference in which each day is full with lectures, networking lunches by field of interest, afternoon break-out sessions, poster presentations, numerous guest speakers representing 12 disciplines within the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Upon our return to Hilo from the conference the students were able to gather and process their experience at ABRCMS as a group; the consensus was the experience far exceeded their expectations and opened a world of opportunities they never knew existed in the fields of science. Our UH Hilo SHARP students who have been part of this program have received admission to advanced degree programs at prestigious campuses across the United States.

Anaheim Convention Center held over 5,500 participants during the ABRCMS Conference in November, 2019.
Dallas Tada
Lenard Allen, MA and Dr. Lynn Morrison

Message from Dr. Lisa Muehlstein SHARP classes overview

Dr. Lisa Muehlstein

Each semester first year SHARP students are required to participate in a two semester seminar course. The course is designed to help students become familiar with science, scientific processes and futures in science. There are a wide range of research projects the students become engaged with so the course includes emphasis on biomedical sciences and behavioral studies. Many topics are covered in the curriculum with a variety of formats.

Guest speakers are invited each semester from ethnically and educationally diverse backgrounds. Several speakers have been “motivational” speakers discussing different pathways to follow in education. Other speakers during the course of the year simply tell their story in a very personal way from beginning to present. It is perhaps the personal stories that help students the most, as many times a student is able to relate to the journey and realize the countless possibilities ahead.

The seminar course includes tours of labs where different types of research and equipment are presented. There are discussions on research ethics, creation of CVs, personal statements for graduate school applications and use of library databases. The classes are designed to support students navigate the basics of becoming successful scientists. Another emphasis in the course includes the basics of creating scientific posters and becoming a productive peer reviewer of peer posters. Overall, the two semester course helps students understand and appreciate the intricacies of becoming a productive and exceptional scientist.

Message from Lenard Allen Program Coordinator

Lenard Allen, MA

A very special thank you to Mary Jo Riehm, our Fiscal Accounting Associate, for her continued excellent work and patience tracking all our programs financial matters.

Dr. Misty Pacheco

Aloha and Welcome to New Mentor Dr. Misty Pacheco who is working with Pre-school students looking at dental carries.

Also a warm welcome to new students:

  • Kevianna Adams working with Dr. Eric Heuer.
  • Kapuakea Isaak working with Dr. Lynn Morrison.
  • Jeena Franco working with Dr. Misty Pacheco.
  • Jace Taka working with Dr. Stan Nakanishi.
  • Kit Neikirk and Joie Agard working with Dr. Ingo Ko‘omoa-Lange.

Congratulations to UH Hilo SHARP Graduates

  • Keinan Agonias, May 2020
  • Duke Escobar, May 2020
  • Joshua Turner, December 2019
  • Dallas Tada, May 2020
  • Tyler Honda, May 2020

Research and Training

Thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research, Americans today are living longer and healthier. Life expectancy in the United States has jumped from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years as reported in 2009, and disability in people over age 65 has dropped dramatically in the past 3 decades. In recent years, nationwide rates of new diagnoses and deaths from all cancers combined have fallen significantly.

Undergraduate Students

Kieran Long, Duke Escobar, Dallas Tada, Maya S.P. Bernardo, Michelle Marie Biete, Keinan Agonias, Evangeline Lemieux, Tyler Honda, Kevianna Adams, Kapuakea Isaak, Jane Walsh, Jeena Franco, Kit Neikirk, Joie Agard and Jace Taka.

PhD. Candidate Student

Nathan Sunada

SHARP Mentors

  • Dr. Julie Adrian - Stress Implications in Survivor Canines Who Lost Another Household Animal Companion
  • Dr. Daniel Brown - Brown adipose tissue, cold exposure, and adiposity: a comparison of college students brought up in a warm climate and those brought up with seasonal cold exposure
  • Dr. Shugeng Cao - Anti-Cancer and Anti-Bacterial Agents from microorganisms and Herbal medicine
  • Dr. Leng Chang & Dr. Supakit Wongwiwantthananukit - Screening of Hawaiian Medicinal Plants and Marine Algae for anticancer activities using Streptomyces Kinase Inhibitor Assay / Evaluation of Hawaiian Medicinal Plants in the Treatment of Infectious Diseases
  • Dr. Abhijit Date - Development of nano-scale formulations for natural products; Green synthesis of inorganic nanoparticles using plant extracts; Development of nanomedicines for the prevention or treatment of cancer and infectious diseases
  • Dr. Lincoln Gotshalk - Physical Activity and Cancer Survivors; Menopause and Bone Health of Hawaiian Women
  • Dr. Eric Heuer - Effects of long-term stimulant self-administration on the aging primate brain
  • Dr. Kerri Inglis - ‘Oihana lapa‘au: a history of Hawaiian medical practices through analysis of Hawaiian medical texts
  • Dr. Susan Jarvi - Angiostrongyliasis (Rat Lungworm Disease): Education, outreach and research
  • Dr. Dana-Lynn Ko‘omoa-Lange - Investigating the mechanisms that promote Cancer Progression: a Native Hawaiian Perspective
  • Dr. Ingo Ko‘omoa-Lange - Key mechanisms of ion channel signaling in cancer drug resistance and the tumor microenvironment
  • Dr. Lynn Morrison - Occupational Stress and Animal Welfare in Humane Societies
  • Dr. Stan Nakanishi - Investigating the anti- bacterial efficacy of native Hawaiian plant-based medicines
  • Dr. Dianqing Sun - Discovery, Synthesis, and Evaluation of Antibacterial and Anti-Cancer Agents in Natural Products
  • Dr. Ghee Tan - Endophytic fungi of Hawaiian medicinal plants: a sustainable drug discovery approach and a revolutionary source of new drug leads
  • Dr. Tracy Wiegner - Staphylococcus and MRSA in Hawaiian Coastal waters
  • Dr. Misty Pacheco – Defining microbiological drivers of early childhood carries in Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander preschoolers.

Funding for this Newsletter Provided by the National Institute for Health (NIH) grant 5R25GM113747.