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 three 2019 faculty awardees and summaries of their research are presented below:

Tim Li

Tim Li is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. He is one of the most influential scientists in tropical climate dynamics worldwide. Li has published 290 professionally referred research papers and a book during his 20 years of teaching and research at UH Mānoa. As a principal investigator, he brought in $6 million of research grants to UH. He served as an advisor to 25 Ph.D. students and 42 postdoctoral research fellows and visiting scientists in the past 20 years.


Craig Smith

Regents’ medal for excellence in research award winner Craig Smith

Craig Smith is a professor in the Department of Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. His research on biodiversity, ecosystem function, climate change and conservation in seafloor ecosystems ranges from Hawaiian mangrove communities to abyssal habitats targeted for seafloor mining. One of his major accomplishments includes the design and implementation of a network of marine protected areas covering 1.44 million km2 to protect the biodiversity of abyssal ecosystems in the face of deep-sea mining. At UH, Smith has led 66 oceanographic research expeditions to sites spanning equatorial waters and received 52 grants totaling about $14 million.


Robert Toonen

Regents’ medal for excellence in reearch award winner Robert J. Toonen

Robert Toonen is a professor at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. He joined the faculty in 2003 and formed a joint laboratory with Brian Bowen, affectionately known as the “ToBo” lab. His research interests are diverse and touch on many aspects of marine biology. During his time at UH Mānoa, Toonen has been an author on more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and has served as a principal investigator on more than 50 extramural grants totaling more than $25 million.


UH Student Excellence in Research

In 2019, three $500 student awards were funded by RCUH. The recipients of these awards were:

Matthew Abplanalp

Student excellence in research award winner Mathew Abplanalp

Matthew Abplanalp is pursuing a PhD in chemistry with a focus on astrochemistry – the chemistry occurring throughout the harsh environments of space – and the related physical chemistry processes. His implementation of a tunable ‘soft’ photoionization technique coupled with a state-of-the-art ultra-high vacuum apparatus has led to multiple novel discoveries that have been reflected in multiple peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences and reported on by the general media. Abplanalp’s collaboration with other scientists has led to 13 additional co-author publications to date.


Daniel Coffey

Student excellence in research award winner Daniel Coffey

Daniel Coffey is pursuing a PhD in marine biology and is expected to graduate in 2019. His research at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology focuses on the biology of large marine fishes such as tuna and sharks. Coffey’s dissertation has explored the behavior and physiological ecology of a deep water shark in its natural habitat in Hawaiian waters. He designed and deployed sophisticated instrument packages that are attached to the shark and measure depth, temperature and its movements. He was the first to use and publish a fish-borne device to measure in situ oxygen concentrations experienced by the animal.


Rachael Wade (No photo provided)

Rachael Wade will be graduating with a PhD in botany in spring 2019. She studies the biodiversity of siphonous green algae in the Hawaiian Islands, and has developed a tool for analyzing the smallest and most diverse forms of these algae by studying the chloroplasts captured by sap-sucking sea slugs. Wade has made critical contributions to understanding several Hawaiian invasive seaweed species. She has published eight papers and was awarded multiple prizes for her talks at scientific conferences. Wade’s research has also been highlighted by the local media on several occasions.