SOEST early career fellowship returns, three scholars selected

The UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) has awarded Early Career Research Fellowships to three outstanding scholars: Sara Kahanamoku-Meyer, Camille Pagniello, and Christopher Wall. 

“After a decade of silence, the SOEST Early Career Research Fellowship has come roaring back to life with our selection of three early career scholars,” said Chip Fletcher, SOEST interim Dean. “Our goal is to attract and support stellar talent who are hired as faculty and provided with the authority to write grants and develop prominent research programs. We couldn’t be more pleased with the selection of Sara, Camille, and Chris as our new SOEST Fellows and are looking forward to promoting their future success.”

Sara Kahanamoku-Meyer

Kahanamoku-Meyer, a specialist in place-based, ‘Ōiwi-led paleoecology, started October 2, 2023. They use paleoecology, applied through a kanaka ʻōiwi lens, to study the impacts of climate change and colonialism on Pacific marine ecosystems. Their fellowship will be based in the UH Sea Grant College Program and Rosie Alegado and Haunani Kane will serve as their faculty mentors. 

“The SOEST Early Career Research Fellowship is an unparalleled opportunity for me to develop a research program that supports community-led ecology and conservation work in Hawaiʻi,” said Kahanamoku-Meyer. “This fellowship will allow me to bring conservation paleobiology–a relatively new focus for Hawaiʻi–back to my home community after over a decade living on the continent. I am particularly excited to be in SOEST, as its faculty, staff, and students all hold a wealth of place-based and interdisciplinary expertise and understand the value of doing research that supports the communities of Hawaiʻi.”

Camille Pagniello

Pagniello joined SOEST January 2, 2024. Her research lies at the intersection of oceanography, engineering, data science and marine biology with a focus on developing new tools and approaches to study fish movement, communication and biodiversity in our changing ocean. Her fellowship will be based in the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology and Judy Lemus will serve as her faculty mentor.

“As a SOEST Early Career Research Fellow, I will be utilizing data science techniques to extract novel information about the ocean from existing data streams and developing new instrumentation platforms to expand the existing ocean observing network,” said Pagniello. “I am extremely excited to have access to the programs and infrastructure that facilitate the innovative research being conducted at SOEST. This will provide an ideal environment for conducting impactful research at the forefront of oceanography and to harness the power of low-cost sensors to address interdisciplinary, sustainability-relevant questions. I look forward to collaborating with the motivated, accomplished, and passionate SOEST community, including faculty, researchers, postdocs, and students.”

Chris Wall

Wall will join SOEST June 3, 2024. He is a physiological ecologist whose research has focused on coral reefs, wetlands, forests, and alpine lakes. Wall uses stable isotopes and molecular techniques to study symbioses, food webs, and microbiomes. His fellowship will be based in the Department of Earth Sciences and Brian Popp will serve as his faculty mentor.

“As a Research Fellow, I will be applying cutting-edge molecular tools to understand the interactions between reef corals and macroalgae in the Main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,” said Wall. “Macroalgae can alter food resources available to corals and perturb important host-associated microbial communities, ultimately negatively affecting coral health and ecosystem function. This fellowship represents a unique opportunity for me to return to Hawai‘i where I can pursue my passions for coral reef research, student mentorship, and community engagement. I look forward to integrating the resources and experience of the SOEST community in my research program and applying my science to support the restoration and conservation of coral reefs in Hawai’i and abroad.”

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