Kāpili Summer 2017 Newsletter


Letter from
the Dean

Dr. Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST

Dr. Brian Taylor

Thank you for your generous support of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.  More than ever, dedicated research, exploration, and sharing of lessons learned are vital to our understanding of the environment in which we live and what measures we can take to preserve the Earth for future generations.  Your support makes you a direct partner in that effort, and we could not have achieved our success without you.

I hope you enjoy reading about the ways we together have made a difference this past year.  Thank you for partnering with us as we work to better understand and value our island Earth.  I am grateful for your support and look forward to continue working with you in the future.

Mahalo and best wishes,

Brian Taylor, PhD
Dean of SOEST

[Top of page]


Letter from
the Fundraiser

Jana Light, Associate Director of Development

Jana Light

As I was writing this issue of the newsletter, I saw two themes emerge: 1) SOEST donors are building up the next generation of earth and environmental scientists, supporting students who will one day change the world and who will create earth-conscious communities around them; and 2) there are few things more exciting than seeing student present the results of their work to a larger community. As you read through the following stories from this past semester, I hope you see the same.

Keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved and for opportunities to see more of what SOEST has to offer—there are some exciting events coming! I look forward to seeing many of you over this next academic year and to finding new ways to partner together for the benefit of SOEST, SOEST students, and the health and vitality of this big, beautiful planet.


Jana Light
Associate Director of Development — SOEST
University of Hawaii Foundation

[Top of page]


Don Swanson with students

Don Swanson works with a group of Geology & Geophysics students at the Kīlauea Caldera on the Halema‘uma‘u crater on the Big Island.

Celebrating a history of collaboration

Don Swanson

Dr. Don Swanson of the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) began his work on Kīlauea in 1968. A little over 15 years ago he started working closely with professors and graduate students in SOEST’s Department of Geology and Geophysics to study Kīlauea explosions which occurred between 1500 and 1800. It has proved to be a wonderfully productive partnership.

“This is brand-new stuff,” said Swanson. “Usually you don’t have breakthroughs in a short period of human time. It takes time to develop the evidence.”

The award-winning geologist, recognizing the “outstanding people” in UH Mānoa’s Department of Geology and Geophysics, has funded the Donald A. Swanson Geology & Geophysics Graduate Student Endowed Support Fund. The fund will provide annual support for tuition, student fees, field work and other research costs, and is Swanson’s effort to pay the university back “for all the good, combined research efforts” over these 15 years.

Swanson hopes the endowment will encourage students to continue the geologic studies in the islands, adding, “The more work they do in Hawai‘i, the more likely they are to return as researchers or faculty members” and add to the research on the fascinating geology of the state.

Dr. Kenneth Rubin, chair of Mānoa’s geology and geophysics department, said Swanson “exemplifies the type of scientist we hope our students will aspire to becoming. He is inquisitive, methodical and persistent in his pursuit of understanding. He’s a kind and dedicated mentor to students, and has a long interaction with the department through several collaborators.

“Don’s generous gift will provide much appreciated research support for a new generation of earth scientists studying in and about Hawai‘i,” said Rubin. “It will enable them to pursue new, advanced research on the natural and geological history of our island state.”

In addition to the endowment, Dr. Swanson donated funds to be used this year while the endowment generates returns. The geology and geophysics department is currently reviewing applications from graduate students and plans to award deserving students the award for use by the end of 2017. They are hoping to present their research at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the Big Island in the coming year, to bring the results of Swanson’s generosity to his back door.

Swanson said, “I’ve never felt as good about doing something as I do about making this donation. It’s buying something for our future.”

If you would like to make a donation to Dr. Swanson’s fund in honor of his generosity to SOEST, please visit the Donald A. Swanson Geology and Geophysics Graduate Student Endowed Support Fund donation page.

[Top of page]


GES image

2017 GES graduates (left to right): Jennifer Wong-Ala, Katy Christensen, Dalton Muchow, Dr. Michael Guidry (Chair, GES), Alisha Summers, Jaline Seruge, Michelle Marchant, Yazhou Fu

Environmental studies come to fruition

Global Environmental Science Symposium

On May 5, 2017, the Global Environmental Science (GES) program at SOEST held its end-of-the-semester symposium celebrating the work and success of its Spring 2017 graduates. Seven students presented their work, projects that spanned the islands and even the globe:

  • Analysis of changes in the Western Antarctic Peninsula
  • Attempts to define and track the “family tree” of reef fish on the Big Island
  • Defining what areas around O‘ahu are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change
  • Development of new tools for beach management
  • The study of the history of beach loss around Oahu to better understand the future of our beaches

“It was a great day,” said Dr. Fred Mackenzie, SOEST Emeritus Professor of Oceanography who started the GES program back in 1998. “These students are doing great work and it is always a great opportunity to see how SOEST is supporting undergraduate students learning how to become the next generation of scientists.”

The GES Program, housed in the Department of Oceanography at SOEST, is one of the most rigorous and challenging undergraduate programs at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. As a degree requirement, GES majors complete a UHM faculty-mentored research project, write a thesis, and present their research results at the public GES Symposium. SOEST faculty are heavily involved in the GES program and are responsible for mentoring over 75% of GES student research projects.  This type of mentored research experience is usually limited to graduate students and so the benefits for undergraduates are many-fold. As just one indicator of the high quality of faculty-mentored research produced by the GES undergraduates, many of their efforts result in peer-reviewed journal articles.

These projects are not only academically and scientifically significant, but they are directly relevant to the long-term health and vitality of Hawai‘i and places around the world.

“It is wonderful to see these undergraduate successfully embrace the challenges and opportunities of conducting faculty-mentored research and presenting their results,” says Dr. Michael Guidry, Chair of GES. “It’s gratifying to see how the students benefit from these research experiences and to see how many people are invested in their success and experience.”

Katy Christensen, 2017 GES graduate and aspiring scientist, agrees: “The feedback I received, for both my research and my oral presentation skills, was very helpful and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to present in a supportive setting with the GES and SOEST communities as an undergraduate student,” she says.

Many of the students, including Katy, benefited from support from donors to GES and to SOEST. Their success is a direct representation of the impact gifts to GES can have, and we thank our donors who helped make their research experiences possible

The symposium for GES summer 2017 graduates will be held Friday, August 11 in the Marine Science Building. Please feel free to join us!

If you would like to support GES students and their research, please visit our Friend of Global Environmental Science donation page.

[Top of page]


The Hayashidas

Carol Ann and Myron Hayashida with one of their first scholarship students, Kaipo Perez III, after a dive on the Big Island.

Supporting the next generation of Hawai‘i scientists

Myron and Carol Ann Hayashida

Myron Hayashida always loved the water — spending his days as a young boy fishing, body surfing, and taking to the waves. Carol was more comfortable on-land.

High school friends, college sweethearts, and then newlyweds, Myron’s military assignments took them to Germany, then to California, and eventually to Washington DC. After retiring from the Army, he worked as a consultant and later founded BP International, a professional services firm, and Carol worked for the federal government, primarily with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

After 30 years in D.C., the Hawaiian Islands finally called them home and they made their way back to O‘ahu. It was there that they reconnected with their former Roosevelt High School classmate, Jo-Ann Leong. Dr. Leong was Director of the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at the time and shared with them some of the amazing work HIMB students were doing.

Seeing the exciting research of HIMB students inspired Myron and Carol to start supporting students in 2008, and in 2010 they created the Carol Ann & Myron K. Hayashida HIMB Student Support Fund. They made a point to attend the HIMB Student Symposium as often as they could to see presentations of students from across the institute.

“We’re always so fortunate to go to Coconut Island,” Carol said. “It has been so wonderful watching the students at HIMB grow in confidence.”

Sadly, after a wonderful life, career, and lifetime of generosity, Myron passed away in 2016. Carol says the scholarship held a very special place of joy in his full life.

“He developed some great relationships with students as a result of the scholarship,” she said. “Myron and Kaipo, one of our first scholarship recipients, went diving together on the Big Island and kept in touch for many years. Myron loved hearing about what he did. This kind of research is something he would have loved to have done himself.”

Myron and Carol shared a vision for their scholarship and students at HIMB: “We wanted to help raise the next generation of scientists. Our dream would be to have a scholarship recipient one day be a researcher at HIMB. To see local kids grow up to change the world and contribute to their field, and to know we helped, would be wonderful.”

It’s safe to say that that day will soon be here. The Myron and Carol Ann Hayashida Scholarship has supported over 25 students and their research. SOEST and HIMB are honored to celebrate Myron’s memory and legacy of generosity through the scholarship and the student research they have enabled.

If you would like to make a gift in Myron’s name to support students at HIMB, please visit the Carol Ann & Myron K. Hayashida HIMB Student Support Fund donation page.

[Top of page]


REMS image

A group of O‘ahu REMS high school students share the samples they collected during a field day on Coconut Island.

Planting the seeds of scientific inquiry

Research Experiences in Marine Science at HIMB

Every year, the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) opens up the world of near-shore marine research to budding scientists from high schools around O‘ahu.

The HIMB Research Experiences in Marine Science (REMS) is an advanced, inquiry-driven and experiential marine biology summer course designed to build science and environmental literacy skills for Hawai‘i high school students and recent graduates. Its goal is to immerse students in the day-to-day of actual science and show them what scientific study looks like in Hawai‘i, and how science relates to addressing environmental challenges we face as a society.

“Our goal is to inspire students and spark interests in marine science fields in Hawai‘i’s high school graduates, who tend to be underrepresented at SOEST and UH Mānoa,” says Dr. Malia Rivera, program creator and specialist at HIMB. “Bringing students out to Moku o Lo‘e (Coconut Island) and into the field and research lab setting is key – when we show them what being a marine scientist is, they often get excited about the possibilities for their eventual college studies.”

This past July 14, 18 high school students, 6 high school mentors, and over 40 donors, partners, parents, and friends gathered to celebrate the completion of another successful 5-week intensive REMS program at HIMB.

Not only was it a celebration of the students’ achievements, but it was a wonderful testament to the impact of donor partnership and generosity:

  • This past year, the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation donated funds to purchase a boat to take students to and from Coconut Island, and to take them to and from research sites around Kāne‘ohe Bay.
  • For the past two years, the Hau ‘oli Mau Loa Foundation has supported staff, travel costs, lab costs, college credit fees and other expenses for the program.
  • For the past two years, the Pacific American Foundation has supported stipends for student participants through funding from a US Department of Education Native Hawaiian Education Program grant.
  • This year, Carol Ann Hayashida donated funds to support the high school mentors (students who graduate the program the year before and are returning to help guide the new students in their experience).
  • For the past two years, a Youth Access Grant from the Smithsonian Institution provided funds for creation of new lab modules and graduate student staff instructors
  • The NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training grant provides funds for graduate student instructors.

“We hope this is an experience the students remember as they decide whether or not to pursue a career in science,” says Rivera. “Hopefully, these past few weeks have inspired them about what they are capable of doing now and what they could do in the future.”

If you are interested in supporting students or the program as a whole, we would love to talk to you. You can also donate at the REMS For Hawaii High School Students at HIMB donation page.

[Top of page]