Outstanding employees recognized with RCUH awards

The Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH) recognizes outstanding individuals and teams with annual awards. This year, several SOEST team members were acknowledged for their achievements and contributions.

Tiziana Cherubini and Ryan Lyman with the Maunakea Weather Center were nominated by atmospheric sciences professor Steven Businger and were awarded the first place in the 2020 Outstanding Team category.

The tremendous success of the Maunakea Weather Center (MKWC) over a period of two decades is substantially due to the remarkable and sustained efforts of Tiziana Cherubini and Ryan Lyman. MKWC astronomical weather forecasts are considered the best in the world—a result of complex global and local data gathering, the application of custom weather algorithms, and specialized insights gained from years of experience. The products produced by Tiziana’s custom regional weather model and delivered by Ryan’s expert online web design have been heavily used within Hawaii. Daily hits to the MKWC weather server exceed 100,000 per day during close approach of hurricanes. Output from MKWC is also used in a vog dispersion model of hazardous volcanic emissions. This vog model provided critical guidance to emergency managers during the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

In the Outstanding Employee, Project Support Staff category, Hope Ronco, who works in the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), was awarded second place. Ronco was nominated by JIMAR director Doug Luther.

Transporting four monk seals from the Ke Kai Ola (KKO) rehabilitation hospital to Midway Atoll for release is a high-stakes mission, made even more complex and challenging during this pandemic. Nevertheless, Hope volunteered to develop and implement the plan. She did a stellar job fostering collaborative relationships and communications with crucial federal partners, KKO, and JIMAR; facilitating meetings; making detailed supply and equipment lists; ensuring staff were trained; developing contingency plans, such as where to hold the seals should the USCG need to abort the transport; and creating a human health risks assessment. Largely because of Hope’s contributions, this life-saving mission went according to plan, was carried out safely, efficiently, and with great satisfaction and praise from all partners involved.

Congratulations to all the award recipients and thank you for your excellent contributions to SOEST!