RCUH Outstanding Employees

On November 5, 2018 more than 200 principal investigators, project staff, and supporters gathered at Waialae Country Club to recognize 25 outstanding RCUH employees who made demonstrable, significant, and exemplary contributions to their projects during the past fiscal year or years (click on name for video).

Outstanding Researcher/Project Manager/Professional Staff

 Janel Yamamoto1st Place: Janel Yamamoto
UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

In 2017, Janel was promoted to Director of UH’s Agribusiness Incubator Program and has already made significant improvements. She rebranded AIP to GoFarm Hawai‘i (GFH), expanded the new farmer training program on the neighbor islands, and is working to establish an AgTechnician training program at Waiawa Correctional Facility. GFH’s mission is to enhance Hawai’i’s food security and economy by increasing the number of local agricultural producers.


Erica Davis2nd Place (tie): Erica Davis
UH John A. Burns School of Medicine

As Associate Director for the Hawai‘i/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center (AHEC), Erica has her hands full. She assists with grant management, as well as all HR matters, purchasing, contracting, and professional development opportunities for staff. Erica was also instrumental in helping AHEC receive $4 million in federal funding to fulfill its mission of improving the health of the underserved through education.


Christian Miki2nd Place (tie): Christian Miki
UH College of Natural Sciences

Christian serves as the lead designer and fabricator for the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna project, also known as ANITA, a NASA-sponsored stratospheric long-duration balloon payload that studies particle astrophysics. Christian is responsible for preparing and assembling the ANITA payload, which launches in Antarctica and makes three to four revolutions around the South Pole collecting data on radio bursts from neutrinos.


Outstanding Project Support Staff

Waynele Yu1st Place: Waynele Yu
UH College of Education

Waynele is the first point of contact for the Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) program, a two-year program for those pursuing teaching careers and earned baccalaureate degrees in fields other than education. Waynele developed an active recruitment plan, which includes extensive outreach on the neighbor islands and the implementation of a new software to track applicants’ status. This resulted in a reduction in drop-offs and more efficient use of MEdT’s resources.


Nicole DiManno Martin2nd Place: Nicole DiManno Martin
University of Hawai’i at Hilo

Since the Liko Nā Pilina project began in 2014, Nicole has conducted the fieldwork for the restoration experiment, led the field crew, and recorded observations of the lowland wet forest on Hawai‘i island. Her observations resulted in scientific breakthroughs and she is currently working on writing a manuscript in which she will be first author. The project’s goal is to develop a new restoration method based on adaptive management.


Outstanding Team

The TASI team1st Place: TASI/PHIDC
Jessica Okamura, Jose Aquino, Sean Okamoto, Thomas Pali

The Hawaii All Payer-Claims Database is a complex healthcare claims database project that includes 1,200 files on 48% of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund beneficiaries. It helps the State overcome major challenges in understanding and reporting on healthcare costs and could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in savings.


Annalynn Macabantad and Dana Senaha2nd Place: Center on the Family
Annalynn Macabantad, Dana Senaha

Anna and Dana work on the Title IV-E Waiver demonstration project, which evaluates the state’s efforts to reduce the number of children in foster care. The duo developed a strategy to increase and improve the quality of data input into the state’s system and created a protocol for matching records from two separate databases into a single comprehensive child welfare database.

Honorable Mentions (click on name for video)

Ross Barnes, J. Scott Ferguson – UH Marine Center

Tara Clemente – UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

Joao Garriques – UH Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research

Jason Irei – UH John A. Burns School of Medicine

Derek Kubo, Kristen Laguana, Peter Oshiro, Ranjani Srinivasan – Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics

Eiji Kyono, Kiaina Schubert, Thomas Winegar – Subaru Telescope

Stanley Lio – UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

Christopher Yoakum – Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems

Congratulations to all of the 2018 honorees!


UH Faculty Excellence in Research

RCUH provided a $5,000 cash award to each recipient of the UH Regents Medal for Excellence in Research. The two 2018 faculty awardees and summaries of their research are presented below:

Samir K. Khanal

Samir Khanal Profile

Samir Khanal is an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). Khanal is a leading researcher in the field of anaerobic digestion, bioenergy, waste-to-resources and environmental biotechnology. He is also an associate editor of Bioresource Technology and has published more than 90 papers in international journals. In 2016, Khanal published a bioenergy textbook and was a recipient of the CTAHR Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research. He has supervised 13 Ph.D., 17 masters, 17 undergraduate and 12 high school students, 13 postdocs and 14 visiting scholars.

Bo Qiu

Bo Qiu Profile

Bo Qiu is a professor in the Department of Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. His scientific interests include large-scale ocean circulation variability, midlatitude air-sea interaction, geophysical fluid dynamics and satellite oceanography. He has published more than 120 articles in peer-reviewed journals and was a contributing author to both the 4th and 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports. Qiu was a recipient of the Okada Prize from the Oceanographic Society of Japan, as well as the New Investigators Award from NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth Program.


UH Student Excellence in Research

In 2018, three $500 student awards were funded by RCUH. The recipients of these awards were:

Samuel Grunblatt

Sam Grunblatt Profile

Samuel Grunblatt joined UH Mānoa in 2013 to obtain a Ph.D. in astronomy. Grunblatt studies exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) orbiting distant red giant stars, which are future versions of our Sun. Combining data from the NASA K2 Mission, world-class telescopes on Maunakea and novel analysis techniques, Grunblatt has discovered two new planets orbiting such stars, shedding new light on the mechanism responsible for the formation of these exotic systems. He has led multiple first-author publications and presented his research in talks at major international conferences including NASA’s Ames Research Center.


Zhibin Liang

Zhibin Liang Profile

Zhibin (Ben) Liang is pursuing his doctorate in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). He is passionate about neurosciences and conducts innovative investigations on Alzheimer’s drug discovery. Liang has been using novel biomedical technologies in his dissertation research, resulting in the development of new inhibitors as promising neuroprotective agents for Alzheimer’s treatment. In the past two years, he published three lead-authored articles in peer-reviewed journals and received numerous awards including the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Young Investigator Scholarship.


Nathaniel Wehr

Nathaniel Wehr Profile

Nathaniel Wehr is pursuing a master of science in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM) in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). His thesis research examines the ecological relationship between feral pigs and soil microbial and macroinvertebrate communities, relationships that have been largely undescribed and represent important knowledge gaps in the management of invasive species, as well as public health in the Pacific Islands. This work earned him the Watson T. Yoshimoto Fellowship in the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology Graduate Specialization.