RCUH Outstanding Employees
Thirty-five exemplary RCUH employees are recognized for their exceptional contributions to the advancement of research, training, and development in Hawai‘i and beyond. Congratulations to all the 2021 honorees!
Outstanding Researcher/Project Manager
1st Place: Cassie Stelow
Pacific Disaster Center
Cassie was instrumental in bringing PDC’s Event Brief to mission-capable status. Event Brief is a real-time situational awareness product that is fully automated and can provide emergency managers with immediate lifesaving information about what happened, where it happened, how bad it is, and what to do about it. It was recently used to brief the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the Whitehouse Situation Room following the 7.2 Haiti earthquake and Category 4 Hurricane Ida in the U.S.
2nd Place: Amber Imai-Hong
UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief innovation grant panel awarded $500,000 to Amber’s team to expand a NASA-funded low-cost small satellite kit project to middle and high school students in Hawai‘i. Amber’s vision is to train and foster more technically proficient homegrown talent for higher-paying engineering jobs. Her mentees have included electrical engineering students who have become proficient in designing, fabricating, and testing boards intended for spacecraft.
Outstanding Project Support Staff
1st Place: Yoshiyuki Doi
Subaru’s new Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF) uses multiple high-reflectivity mirrors in the relay system and required large-scale modification of the telescope. Yoshi was put in charge of the mechanical design of the relay system. He was also charged with manufacturing and assembly of the parts, sometimes machining parts on his own. Subaru estimates that had an external contractor been used for the work, it would have cost $1 million or more!
2nd Place: Alycia Fujii
UH Mānoa College of Education
Alycia took the initiative to transform an in-person summer program for grades 1-12 into an online program almost single-handedly. From the creation of digital student and employee handbooks to coordinating the technology equipment and classrooms, Alycia gives everything she has and then some. She is the brainchild behind the program’s parent portal, which keeps parents up to date on their child and gives parents the opportunity to communicate with administrative staff.
1st Place: National Disaster Preparedness Training Center
Lydia Morikawa, Melissa Peneyra, Amanda Bates
In March 2020, the Course Delivery team reorganized itself to meet the operational needs of online delivery, trained and prepared instructors to use the Zoom platform, and developed a new training schedule in coordination with state and local offices across the U.S. and its territories.
2nd Place: Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project
Hanna Mounce, Laura Berthold, Zachary Pezzillo
Translocation of the critically endangered kiwikiu is a huge undertaking. Hanna, Laura, and Zachary are racing to save a bird that may only have 100 of its kind left in the world. The team continues to take on the challenge of new fieldwork under strict COVID protocols to save a species.
Andrea Alexander – UH Mānoa College of Education
McKenna Allen – Department of Land and Natural Resources – Division of Aquatic Resources
Katherine Benson – UH Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies
Eva Brill – UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Claudine Chan-Naruse – UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine
Serge Chastel – UH Institute for Astronomy
Dylan Davis – UH Mānoa College of Natural Sciences
Elizabeth Dingeldein – UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Keiko Garvin – UH Cancer Center
Robin Hayes – UH Institute for Astronomy
Kristine Hironaka – UH Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies
Martin Holzgang – Kapi‘olani Community College
Mark Huber – UH Institute for Astronomy
Melanie Hutchinson – UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Rosalind Kia – UH Mānoa College of Education
Hugh Luk – UH Cancer Center
Mia Melamed – Department of Land and Natural Resources – Division of Aquatic Resources
Howard Morrow – Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i
Yumi Nagayoshi – UH Institute for Astronomy
Kyle Nishiyama – UH Cancer Center
Peter Oshiro – Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Vannida Phommachanh – UH Mānoa College of Natural Sciences
Amy Weintraub – Hawaii Academy of Science
Jill Yamashita – UH Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies
Xue Mei Zhu – UH Cancer Center
Congratulations to all of the 2021 honorees!
UH Mānoa Student Excellence in Research
RCUH provided a $500 cash award to each recipient of the UH Mānoa Student Award for Excellence in Research. The three 2021 student awardees and summaries of their research are presented below:
Travis Berger is a Ph.D. student at the Institute for Astronomy, which he joined in 2015. Berger’s research focuses on planets outside our solar system (exoplanets). By combining space-based observations with data obtained from Maunakea telescopes, he studies how the demographics of exoplanets depend on the properties of their host stars, which informs theories of planet formation. Berger has been named a Future Investigator in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology in 2019 and received an ARCS Scholar award in 2020. He has also led five first-author publications that have received more than 200 citations in peer-reviewed literature.
Viet Sang Doan
Viet Sang Doan is currently a master’s student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the UH College of Engineering. Doan’s research focuses on understanding the dynamics of micro/nanoscale particles in complex microenvironments. He uses microscale fabrication, manipulation and imaging tools to control, visualize and analyze the motion of therapeutic nanoparticles and bacterial cells in microscopic settings that are relevant to naturally existing systems, such as human tissues and soil matrix. His research has been published in high-profile journals and in two peer-reviewed papers, one first-authored and one co-authored.
Victor Kilonzo is a senior double majoring in molecular cell biology and psychology. Kilonzo investigates morphological and molecular alterations in the inferior colliculus (a critical processing station of the auditory pathway) of postmortem schizophrenia subjects. He was the lead author on the first publication to detail abnormalities of a deficit of gamma-aminobutyric acid-ergic (GABAergic) inhibition. Kilonzo has been selected for a prestigious post-baccalaureate research training award at the National Institutes of Health and his long-term goal is to become a physician-scientist conducting research related to neuropsychiatric disorders.