Hilo, HI, United States
Hilo, HI, United States

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, UHH, or UH Hilo is one of the ten branches of the University of Hawaiʻi system anchored by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, United States. The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is a public and co-educational university with the main campus located at 200 West Kawili Street, Hilo, the county seat for Hawaiʻi County.The University is composed of six colleges, and has received recognition for numerous academic programs including the marine biology, volcanology, astronomy, Hawaiian language, pharmacy, agriculture, computer science, and nursing programs.Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani, College of Hawaiian Language is the only school in the United States to offer graduate degrees for study in an indigenous language.The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy is the only ACPE approved pharmacy school in the State of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Islands.UH Hilo ranks in the top 10 for having both the most ethnic diversity and the lowest percentage of students with debt at graduation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Wikipedia.

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Pillon Y.,University of Hawaii at Hilo
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2012

New Caledonia is well known for its rich and unique flora. Many studies have focused on the biogeographical origins of New Caledonian plants but rates of diversification on the island have scarcely been investigated. Here, dated phylogenetic trees from selected published studies were used to evaluate the time and tempo of diversification in New Caledonia. The 12 plant lineages investigated all appear to have colonized the island <37Mya, when New Caledonia re-emerged after a period of inundation, and the timing of these arrivals is spread across the second half of the Cenozoic. Diversification rates are not particularly high and are negatively correlated with lineage age. The palms have the fastest diversification rates and also the most recent arrival times. The lineage ages of rainforest plants suggest that this ecosystem has been present for at least 6.9Myr. The New Caledonian flora is apparently a relatively old community that may have reached a dynamic equilibrium. Colonization by new immigrants has been possible until relatively recently and diversity-dependent processes may still be affecting the diversification rates of the earlier colonizers. Further studies on the diversification of large plant clades with exhaustive sampling should help to clarify this. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London.

Pezzuto J.M.,University of Hawaii at Hilo
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | Year: 2011

Cancer chemoprevention entails the ingestion of dietary or pharmaceutical agents that can prevent, delay, or reverse the process of carcinogenesis. With support provided by the National Cancer Institute, we have been actively engaged in the systematic discovery and characterization of natural chemopreventive agents. The typical approach involves identifying active crude substances such as extracts derived from terrestrial plants or marine organisms, utilizing in vitro bioassay systems, followed by the isolation of pure active components. As part of this project, an extract obtained from a nonedible Peruvian legume, Cassia quinquangulata Rich. (Leguminosae), was evaluated and found to be active as an inhibitor of cyclooxygenase. The active component was identified as resveratrol. Surprisingly broad spectrum activity was observed, indicative of potential to inhibit carcinogenesis at the stages of initiation, promotion, and progression. This discovery has led to many additional research efforts. There are now around 3,500 papers concerning some aspect of resveratrol action, yet the molecule is unusually promiscuous and specific mechanisms remain elusive. Considering the structural simplicity of this stilbene, the intensity of interest is phenomenal. © 2011 New York Academy of Sciences.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Macromolec/Supramolec/Nano | Award Amount: 87.87K | Year: 2015

The Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program of the Division of Chemistry is sponsoring this workshop entitled FEW NSF Workshop: Closing the Human Phosphorus Cycle to be held on June 8-9, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. Phosphorus is an element that is essential to all life. The human body contains phosphorus concentrated largely in bones and teeth and in essential biomolecules, including DNA (genetic materials), phospholipids (a major component of cell membranes) and ATP (for energy transport in cells). To build and maintain these materials, humans must ingest at least 0.7 g of phosphorus each day. Importantly, phosphorus is also essential for crops and livestocks and thus large amounts of phosphorus have been mobilized to raise soil fertility. However, great uncertainty surrounds current estimates of phosphate rock reserves. Ironically, while concerns about phosphorus scarcity have been increasing in recent years, so have concerns about the accumulation of human waste and farm-derived fertilizer that stimulates the growth of algae, including toxic forms that contaminates our drinking water supplies. Prof. Matthew Platz (University of Hawaii at Hilo) and Prof. James J. Elser (Arizona State University) co-organize a workshop to advance scalable science and engineering that will define the underlying science that must be advanced to facilitate more efficient phosphorus use in food production, as well as economically viable recovery and recycling of phosphorus at various points in the food system. The benefits of success of this workshop, and the funding and implementation of the research agenda so defined, are enormous: fertilizer food security for the 9-10 billion people expected to inhabit the earth later this century and the protection of freshwater ecosystems necessary for their water supply.

The goals of the title workshop are to facilitate the interactions and collaborations of chemists with life-, geo- and social scientists and engineers and define interdisciplinary research opportunities for scientists who wish to explore the nexus of food, water and energy as it applies to the critical issue of closing the phosphorous cycle. The specific objectives of the workshop include developing a trans-disciplinary understanding of fundamental chemical processes that transpire in soils, sediments, water systems, plants and animals and constitute the pathways of phosphorous utilization and disposal within nature; brainstorming about ways to design, synthesize and evaluate new chemicals and materials that can sense phosphate ions and that can sequester and release phosphate ions on demand; and deciding upon how the stakeholder scientific disciplines (physical sciences, geologic sciences, engineering, life sciences and social sciences) can collaborate on computational, experimental, and data mining approaches to solving research problems.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 622.17K | Year: 2014

The University of Hawaii at Hilo seeks to establish a scholarship program for 19 economically disadvantaged students who intend to major in astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, marine science, mathematics, or physics. The goal of the proposal is to recruit local Hawaii students as well as students from the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands (Samoa and Micronesia) and retain them in these targeted STEM fields through graduation. The following support services are planned for the participants: (a) a summer Bridge Program prior to the freshman year, (b) faculty mentoring, (c) peer-tutoring for introductory STEM courses, (d) summer and academic year research support on campus, (e) opportunities for research internships, (f) advising and support to participate in summer research programs at US mainland universities, and (g) community service in which students provide math and science tutoring for K-12 students. Some of the program activities operate in conjunction with, but expand upon, current university programs, such as the Keaholoa STEM Scholars Program (supported under the NSF Tribal Colleges and Universities Program), while other activities are new initiatives.

Data generated through assessment and evaluation supports the rationale that institutionalizing initiatives that provide students with a supportive community motivate them to become self-identified scientists who are retained through graduation. Formative and summative evaluation focuses on determining which support strategies are most effective and which can be improved in relation to four areas (a) recruitment and retention, (b) student support activities, (c) research opportunities and internships, and (d) STEM careers/graduate education. Data collection methodologies include mixed methods, including faculty and student participant surveys, interviews and observations. Dissemination occurs through annual professional society meetings and peer-reviewed education journals such as the Journal of College Science Teaching. Project deliverables include results of summative evaluation and the activities developed within the project.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 106.54K | Year: 2014

Analyzing the elemental composition of materials is important throughout the natural sciences, and has a broad range of applications in the social sciences. For example, researchers who are interested in studying the prehistoric movement of people around the globe analyze the elemental composition of stone tools to determine the geological sources of the stones so that they may infer trade patterns, long-distance voyaging, and even migration routes. Researchers at the University of Hawai`i at Hilo have been studying Polynesian economies and voyaging by analyzing the geological origins of stone artifacts with a non-destructive technique called Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF). The analytical equipment, however, is obsolete and needs to be replaced to continue the ongoing project. This NSF grant supports the acquisition of a desktop Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometer for rapid and cost-efficient laboratory work. Researchers also intend to expand the applications of EDXRF to other research programs, such as rapid-tracking of changes in the composition of lava from Kilauea Volcanos ongoing eruption (which could signal important changes in the nature of the eruption), and the analysis of contaminants in soils in residential, agricultural, and industrial settings. The expansion and continuation of the EDXRF program will engage under-represented students in the practice of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, especially Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander students studying anthropology, geology and environmental sciences. It will also support graduate research, high-school projects, and a multitude of professional collaborators. The use of non-destructive EDXRF analyses in Oceanic settings attracts and inspires members of descendant communities to engage in scientific fields of study, and supports undergraduate publication and eventual placement of student trainees in graduate programs. UH-Hilos student body is one of the most diverse in the nation, and 30% of the students self-identify as Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders. Non-destructive EDXRF provides these students with the opportunity to determine how their ancestors interacted with their environment and with each other while providing them with fundamental skills in material sciences.

For the archaeological component, the proposed research involves sampling of artifact collections from prehistoric residential sites and quarries to clarify stone resource procurement patterns throughout Polynesia. The approaches will involve lab analyses at UH Hilo. Continued examination of the complex nature of the movement of lithic resources throughout Polynesia will provide a better framework for interpreting the role of resource inequities in Oceanic social evolution. The sustained effort will lead to more robust diachronic models of Oceanic exchange and sociopolitical development. Expansion of research functions to the rapid analyses of newly formed lavas from Kilauea Volcano and to the screening of soil samples for environmental contaminants will both contribute to a better understanding of natural and man-made environmental hazards in the Hawaiian environment and help plan for better and more efficient intervention methods.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 356.16K | Year: 2015

This REU Site award to University of Hawaii at Hilo, located in Hilo, HI, will support the training of 10 students for 10 weeks during the summers of 2015-2017. This program supports multidisciplinary research in the areas of population ecology, climate change, and management of natural resources. UHHs research community and its partners have developed rigorous research programs to address these issues and increase student interest, awareness and training in conservation and environmental science. Students, predominately from groups underrepresented and underserved in STEM, will work with a diverse team of faculty mentors on projects focused on conservation biology and how invasive species, climate change, and degraded ecosystems pose significant threats to the states fragile ecosystem and represent serious environmental challenges. In addition to research, students are exposed to weekly seminars, workshops, and other advanced professional development and training protocols that (1) supplement their existing academic training (such as ethical and responsible conduct of research) and (2) increase their preparedness to engage in conservation science research. The primary focus will be on attracting students with a passion for the environment and nurturing the confidence, skill set and ability to effect positive change and pursue a viable career in this field.

It is anticipated that a total of 30 students, primarily from schools with limited research opportunities, will be trained in the program. Students will learn how research is conducted and will be mentored toward increased independence as the program progresses. Many will present the results of their work at scientific conferences.

A common web-based assessment tool used by all REU programs funded by the Division of Biological Infrastructure (Directorate for Biological Sciences) will be used to determine the effectiveness of the training program. Students are required to be tracked after the program and must respond to an automatic email sent via the NSF reporting system. More information is available by visiting http://hilo.hawaii.edu/uhintern, or by contacting the PI (Dr. Ostertag at ostertag@hawaii.edu) or the co-PI (Ms. Puniwai at npuniwai@hawaii.edu).

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Dimensions of Biodiversity | Award Amount: 316.58K | Year: 2013

Recent advances in biodiversity research have led to progress in two separate directions that focus first on how organisms change over time, and second on spatial patterns of biodiversity at a given time. The proposed research brings together these two approaches to understand biodiversity in a dynamic context. Fundamental research questions are: (1) how are the rate and order of diversification in different groups of organisms determined by the community in which they live, and (2) how does the sequence of diversification dictate the resulting community composition? The research focuses on insects and spiders and uses the known dynamic geology of the young islands of the Hawaiian archipelago, where different contemporary sites represent stages in a geological sequence, as a system for examining feedbacks between adaptation, population divergence, and associated community succession. Methods include: (1) genomic and other molecular tools to measure active diversification of interacting groups of species that are recent arrivals to these novel habitats, and (2) ecological and computational approaches to measure changes in species composition over time.

The research will determine the importance of changing roles of species within communities as populations diverge over time and assemble in space, and the role of that dynamic community in fostering diversification. The work also informs applied areas of invasion and conservation biology, and restoration ecology, by testing the importance of priority, sequence, and associated interaction strengths. The project will train multiple undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdocs in research at the intersection between evolutionary biology and ecology.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 568.19K | Year: 2015

An award is made to the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UH-Hilo) Analytical Laboratory to acquire an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer. This new instrument will be capable of analyzing solid samples like soils, as well as plant and animal tissues for stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen. It will also be able to analyze liquid samples for stable nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in nitrate, hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in water, and stable carbon isotopes in dissolved organic carbon and carbon dioxide. This instrument will be the only one on Hawaii Island capable of these analyses, and the only one in the state and the greater tropical Pacific island region capable of measuring stable isotopes of sulfur and hydrogen in solid samples, as well as dissolved organic carbon. The Analytical Laboratory is integral to the UH-Hilos mission to inspire learning, discovery, and creativity inside and outside of the classroom, and improve the quality of life in Hawaii, the Pacific region, and the world. It is the only facility on Hawaii Island that trains students, many of which are from underrepresented groups (Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and female), to use analytical instrumentation for environmental sample analysis. The expanded stable isotope analyses capability of the Laboratory will engage even more underrepresented students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, exposing them to cutting-edge technology, and allowing them to gain meaningful, employable research experience. These experiences will increase student retention and improve recruitment. Collaborations among UH system faculty, federal agencies, and researchers from other national and international institutions will be enhanced with this new instrument. Products resulting from use of this instrument will be disseminated via the Laboratory website, student symposia, as well as faculty conferences and peer-reviewed publications.

Applications of stable isotopes in ecology have grown exponentially in the last 20 years allowing for a greater understanding of biogeochemical cycles in natural and human-influenced ecosystems, food web structure and dynamics, animal migrations, paleoclimate, as well as the ability to identify pollution sources and track them. This instrument will allow for a new suite of elements in different forms to be analyzed, substantially increasing the types of studies and student training the UH-Hilo Analytical Laboratory can support in and out of state. Additionally, faculty and students across the UH-Hilo campus will have access to this state-of-the-art technology for their research projects and courses. UH-Hilo is located on Hawaii Island which is often referred to as a Living Laboratory because of its numerous climatic zones, active volcano, coral reefs, and high rate of endemism; therefore, the new types of cutting-edge stable isotope studies with this new instrument are endless.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EXTRAGALACTIC ASTRON & COSMOLO | Award Amount: 138.30K | Year: 2016

Part 1

The proposed research aims to connect gas clouds and gaseous structures with galaxies and their change over time. The observations of elements heavier than helium in these gas clouds provides important constraints on the overall amount of these elements produced and spread through space, and the physical environments of gas clouds themselves. The proposal seeks to study a large sample of quasars from an important sky survey, using the quasars like a flash light to observe gas clouds (and their properties) between us and the more distant quasars.

Part 2

The large-scale gaseous structure of the Universe is affected by the production and dispersal of chemical elements by galactic processes. Quasar absorption-line (QAL) spectroscopy is a powerful tool for probing the large-scale gaseous structure and its change over time. There is an emerging consensus that strong absorption-line systems trace the extended gaseous halos of galaxies. The evidence relies on direct detections of strong absorbers near galaxies as well as absorber properties changing with galaxies. The large scale of this enriched circum-galactic medium (CGM) enables the study of galaxy formation and change with relatively little observational expense, at a wide range of redshifts. Open questions in astronomy motivate the research: What are the chemical properties of the extended gaseous halos of galaxies? Which type of absorption-line systems are associated with what class of galaxies? Where are the missing metals? Toward what galaxies are potential cold flows flowing?

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CENTERS FOR RSCH EXCELL IN S&T | Award Amount: 3.00M | Year: 2014

With National Science Foundation support, the University of Hawaii Hilo (UHH) will further develop the Center for Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) and pursue research focused on enhancing the understanding of biotic response to environmental change in tropical ecosystems through a place-based context. The Center integrates detailed ecological, evolutionary, and genomic research with bioinformatics analysis and Geographic Information Systems modeling. The center will train the next generation of scientists and professionals, particularly from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, with the interdisciplinary perspective that is required to both study and effectively steward the spectacular yet fragile ecosystems found throughout the region. The Center will become a fully established, self-sustaining locus of research and training and grow a first-of-its-kind Ph.D. program in TCBES fields, capable of advancing state-of-the-art research and training in evolution, ecology and genomics.

Intellectual Merit:
The Center will focus on three synergistic research themes: 1) organismal response to environmental change: this project will examine the short- and long-term responses of key organisms to a range of environmental conditions, both steady and fluctuating, and will incorporate those results into models of landscape-level response to climate change; 2) behavioral responses to environmental change: this project will use emerging genetic and acoustic tools to examine the effect of anthropogenic change on important social behaviors in animals ranging from arthropods to whales; 3) dynamic interactions between symbioses and environment: this project will explore adaptations of the mutualism-pathogenesis-parasitism continuum in multiple symbiotic systems. Integration of next-generation DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analysis in each of the research areas will allow unprecedented insight into the molecular basis of biotic responses to environmental change.

Broader Impacts:
This CREST Center project will expand on regional and national partnerships developed by Center faculty in the areas of ecology, evolution, and genetics to generate a diverse, technologically and scientifically literate workforce to meet the growing need for sound management of Hawaiis fragile natural resources. This work is expected to: (1) advance faculty to a nationally competitive level in applying genomic tools to predict organismal responses to climate change and other environmental challenges; (2) produce Ph.D.- level scientists who will be able to apply these concepts and techniques in a culturally relevant context; and (3) elucidate the impacts climate change will have on the geographic ranges and social and symbiotic interactions of species in Hawaii and the broader
Pacific region. Center researchers will launch bioinformatics and bioacoustics laboratories in association with established genetic, analytical and spatial data analysis core research facilities to further enhance Hawaiis capacity to train technologically-proficient scientists who can address the conservation challenges facing the state and Pacific region.

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