Kāpili Winter 2016 Newsletter


Letter from
the Dean

Dr. Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST

Dr. Brian Taylor

It’s that time of year.

It is that time of year where we all take a moment to step away from work, sit down with family and friends, maybe eat a little too much, and think about all the good things from the past year. I want to take this opportunity to extend my warmest aloha and mahalo to you, our ‘ohana of donors, for all you have done to support SOEST, its faculty, researchers, students, and programs.

This semester, because of your support, we have been able to expand opportunities for our graduate students, adding a new graduate assistantship opportunity and providing new research funds for graduate students in the Department of Geology & Geophysics doing research in Hawai‘i. You have helped expand the reach of our VOG reporting capabilities, funded a robotics competition, increased the scholarship funds we can offer to our undergraduates, and contributed to student aid funds honoring the memory of one of our beloved researchers and one of our most devoted donors. Truly, there are few capabilities in SOEST that your generosity has not enhanced, and we are grateful for your continued support.

I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in the new year.

Mahalo and happy holidays.

Dr. Brian Taylor
Dean of SOEST

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Photo of Dr. Lorenz Magaard

Dr. Lorenz Magaard

A legacy of leadership and a lifetime of generosity

Lorenz and Ursula Magaard.

Some donors give a single gift to exemplify their philanthropy. Other donors, like Dr. Lorenz and Ursula Magaard, establish a charitable legacy through a long time of broad and generous support.

Lorenz and Ursula came to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 1975 when Lorenz was hired as a professor of Oceanography. His calm, astute manner and his scientific mastery quickly brought him to leadership positions within the department, and he became a strong voice at the University of Hawai‘i as it sought to establish itself as a premier academic institution in ocean and earth sciences.

Part of this mission was the establishment of a new school within UH Mānoa, and Lorenz was instrumental in the formation of SOEST as an environmental- and sustainability-centered school within the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He worked closely with then-UH President Al Simone and others to bring together the departments of Atmospheric Sciences (ATMO), Geography & Geophysics (G&G), Ocean and Resource Engineering (ORE), and Oceanography (OCN), along with affiliated research units, under the banner of the new School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.

Devoted to the ideals of high education and community service, Lornez’s impact didn’t end with the school’s establishment. Over their lifetime, Lorenz and Ursula have given over $170,000 to support a variety of programs and efforts at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Most notably, they have provided generous support to the Global Environmental Sciences (GES) undergraduate program in SOEST’s Department of Oceanography, and provided graduate assistantships and salaries for an interdisciplinary degree program with SOEST and the Shidler College of Business.

During his tenure at SOEST, Lorenz served as acting Dean (1999), the Chair of the Oceanography Department (1984–1990, 2004–2005), Executive Associate Director of the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC; 1998–2008), Director of the International Center for Climate and Society (2003–present), and Associate Dean of SOEST (1992–2000).

The Magaard’s generosity and service have meant a lot for the future of the school. We are grateful not only for their support, but for the opportunity to celebrate their legacy with our ‘ohana of donors. We hope you will join us in thanking and honoring them for what they have made possible at SOEST and the University of Hawai‘i.

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Image of Anela Akiona diving

Anela Akiona, a SOEST graduate student supported by the Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation Fellows program at University of Hawaii, conducting field research.

Fostering preservation of Hawai‘i’s environment

Hau‘oli Mau Loa Fellows Program

One of the ways SOEST is changing the world is through its graduate students. SOEST graduate students are the next generation of scientists moving their fields and our collective knowledge forward, and giving us the tools we need to take better care of our ‘āina.

Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation recognizes the value of supporting graduate students. Since 2012, Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation has funded the Hauʻoli Mau Loa Fellows program at the University of Hawai‘i. Fellows are graduates of local Hawaiʻi high schools and are passionate about studying, preserving, and protecting the local environment.

“Our support of graduate assistantships at the university stems from our belief that the future of Hawaiʻi’s environment depends upon a new generation of natural resource managers who have strong ties to the communities in which conservation work is occurring or needed,” says Janis Reischmann, Executive Director of Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation.

This year, two of the eleven Hauʻoli Mau Loa Fellows are from SOEST. Anela Akiona is working towards her MS in Marine Biology with Dr. Erik Franklin at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), looking for ways to improve the sustainability of how Hawai‘i manages its marine resources, particularly its fisheries. Aka Beebe, an MS student in Oceanography, is investigating how restoration at He‘eia Fishpond on O‘ahu affects nutrient cycling and productivity of the food web from microbes to fish.

The Hau‘oli Mau Loa Fellows program is a wonderful example of how private funders and the university can partner together to support the next generation of conservation and natural resource management leaders and to foster the local community’s commitment to protect the environment in which they live and thrive.

Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation established by Helga Glaesel-Hollenback. Established in 1990 Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation supports five program areas—youth, environment, affordable housing, humanitarian relief and “first generation partners.” In 2010 the foundation completed a research and planning process that led to two new areas of focus within its environmental program—invasive species prevention and environmental leadership pathways. This partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi supports the environmental leadership pathways focus.

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2016 HECO Hawai’i VEX Championship image

Students and mentors gather to watch a robot battle at the 2016 HECO Hawai’i VEX Championship.

SOEST recruitment starts with robots

HECO Hawaii VEX Championship & Hawaii Space Flight Lab

One of the today’s greatest educational challenges is engaging students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathmatics) disciplines at an early age to sow the seeds for their eventual college career. Thanks to the efforts of Art and Rene Kimura, SOEST is promoting early STEM interest through the facilitation of robotics competitions for students in Hawai‘i and across the Pacific.

This past October, 88 teams from China, Taiwan, California, and four of the Hawaiian Islands, with over 400 students ranging in ages 7–18, competed in the 2016 HECO Hawai‘i VEX Championship to see which of their self-built and programmed robots could accomplish this year’s challenges; challenges such as catapulting foam objects over a barrier, climbing a pole, moving and placing plastic balls on racks, and balancing a robot on a bridge.

The challenges are designed to promote STEM engagement and the development of life skills such as problem-solving, time management, integrity, communication, and a deep sense of the importance of teamwork.

“The challenges chosen by VEX are not easy problems to solve,” says Art Kimura, Education Specialist, Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium (HSGC) at SOEST. “The competition teaches students how to problem-solve from the ground up and how to develop perseverance.”

Shirley Lin, sophomore at Moanalua High School on O‘ahu, agrees: “If your robot doesn’t work, you have to keep trying, and if you don’t know how to move forward yet, then you’re not done!”

This year the competition was supported with a generous grant from the Hawaiian Electric Companies, grants from Okinawa Enetech and NASA, and the support of Kamehameha Schools.

“Participation in competitive robotics encourages important life skills like teamwork, communication, time management, problem solving, and a passion for learning,” says Darcy Endo-Omoto, Vice President, Government and Community Affairs at Hawaiian Electric. “Hawaiian Electric looks to STEM and robotics programs to build these skills in students to create the innovative, technologically-savvy, and well-rounded workforce that we need today and in the future.”

Not only does the competition prepare students for the Hawai‘i workforce, but it helps prepare them for work in higher academia. Several former robotics competitors now work at SOEST’s Hawai‘i Space Grant College and Hawai‘i Space Flight Lab (HSFL).

The winning teams of the HECO Hawaii VEX Championship, Hawaiian Kids (from Waialua High School on O‘ahu) and a home school team (from Kapolei on O‘ahu), will compete in the 2017 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky this coming April. Twenty-five additional Hawai‘i teams will qualify for the World Championships through upcoming Hawai‘i State VEX Championships in January and February 2017.

And, if all goes well, hopefully some of these students will find their way to SOEST.

For more information about the competition or how to establish a team at your school, please contact Art Kimura (art@higp.hawaii.edu | 808-956-3138).

If you would like to support the VEX robotics competition, please consider donating: giving.uhfoundation.org/funds/12668804

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Screen capture showing the Pisces V submersible and sleeper shark

Screen capture from a video showing the Pisces V submersible and a curious sleeper shark (Somniosus pacificus).

A human presence in the deep

Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory

The deep sea is a dark, cold, remote place — yet many Earth processes, and likely the origin of life itself, occur uniquely there. Few have been able to study its wonders in person.

SOEST, and its Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL), have two of the last manned submersibles in the world, the Pisces IV and the Pisces V. The subs have enabled incredible research, discovery, and exploration, and—not just for researchers but for students, as well. The opportunities afforded by the Pisces subs enable greater exploration and innovation—a cornerstone of SOEST’s academic and research vision.

“A lab like HURL is always innovative, in equipment and in bringing research to the public,” says Terry Kerby, Director of Facilities and Submersible Operations. “The great thing about a university is you get students, faculty, and industry coming together to advance our understanding and progress, and HURL is a great example of what that can look like for the marine environment.”

In a world that seems to be moving towards remotely operated vehicles for deep sea exploration, “There is no substitute for being down in the environment, for being able to react to the environment in real time. These are things only humans can do,” said Michael Bruno, Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. “I hope we never see the day that we replace, rather than supplement, manned submersibles.”

In August, the Pisces IV and V were deployed off the coast of O‘ahu, testing how well a new low-light camera captures ocean bioluminescence in Hawaiian Bamboo Coral. This past October the Pisces crew explored the Papahānoumakuākea Marine National Monument with National Science Foundation-funded researchers, a monument recently expanded by President Barack Obama to cover three times its previous area. Next fall, the subs will go out to Papahānoumakuākea again with the same NSF group.

“There is so much more to explore in the deep sea,” says Dr. Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST. “We want to be able to provide our researchers with eyes and hands-on access to these inaccessible marine environments for as long as we can.”

If you would like to support the program and the unique research opportunities these vehicles afford our scientists, students, university, and Hawai‘i, please consider donating to HURL today: giving.uhfoundation.org/funds/12080304

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Image of ORE50 guests

Clockwise from bottom left: Dr. Alexander Malahoff (Professor Emeritus – Oceanography; Former Director – Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory), Dr. Kwok Fai Cheung (Professor – Ocean and Resources Engineering), and Dr. Hans-Jurgen Krock (Professor Emeritus & Researcher – Ocean and Resources Engineering) at the ORE 50th anniversary event. Photo courtesy of Dr. Tom Fedenczuk.

Celebrating the past; engineering the future

Ocean and Resources Engineering 50th Anniversary

On Saturday, November 12, the Department of Ocean and Resources Engineering (ORE), at SOEST commemorated its 50th Anniversary with a dinner event at the Waikīkī Aquarium. Over 150 alumni, faculty, staff, students, donors, and friends came together for the occasion and to celebrate the impact ORE and its graduates have had on the Hawaiian Islands and the world.

“Hawai‘i’s dependence on the ocean for resources, transportation, and recreation make ORE an essential field for UH to excel in scholarship and workforce training,” said SOEST Dean Dr. Brian Taylor.

As evidence of ORE’s connection to the community, the event was sponsored by long-time partners of the department: EKNA Services Inc., Navatek Ltd., and Sea Engineering, Inc. Makai Ocean Engineering made a donation to support ORE graduate students in honor of the department’s 50th anniversary.

“These companies have been a big part of ORE’s success over the years, and are an example of what ORE graduates can accomplish for the state of Hawai‘i,” says Dr. Eva-Marie Nosal, chair of the Ocean and Resources Engineering department. “We are very grateful for their support, and were glad to honor them along with our alumni, students, faculty, and friends as we celebrated ORE’s accomplishments over the past 50 years.”

Thank you to everyone who attended and who have been a part of ORE’s half-century of success! We look forward to many more opportunities to celebrate with you as ORE moves into the future.

Please consider donating today to help ORE move into its next 50 years of excellence: giving.uhfoundation.org/funds/12373104.

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Letter from
the Fundraiser

Jana Light, Associate Director of Development

Jana Light

A great calendar year for SOEST is coming to an end, and I am once again grateful for all we have been able to accomplish because of the support we have received from you, our ‘ohana of donors.

While now is the time of year we pause to reminisce and be grateful, it is also the time that we start looking to the future. SOEST is setting priorities and strategy for 2017 and one of these priorities is to increase the support we provide to our undergraduate students via scholarships, research support, and awards. SOEST is committed to educating the next generation of world-changing scientists and one of the best ways we can grow our undergraduate base is by easing the financial burden of students earning a degree at our school.

Earlier this month the University of Hawai‘i Foundation sent out letters asking for your support of SOEST. Would you consider making an end-of-year donation to SOEST’s Dean’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund? Gifts are tax-deductible and would help SOEST enter 2017 with the resources to attract and reward the best and brightest undergraduate students at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Please feel free to reach out to me (808-956-9172 | jana.light@uhfoundation.org) if you would like to make a gift to support SOEST. I would love to hear from you.

My warmest mahalo to you who have helped SOEST achieve success in 2016 and to all of you who have helped SOEST be where it is today. I wish you all a wonderful, happy holiday season.


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

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