RCUH Outstanding Employees

Although our annual awards luncheon was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RCUH is pleased to recognize 17 outstanding RCUH employees who made demonstrable, significant, and exemplary contributions to their projects during the past fiscal year or years.

Outstanding Researcher/Project Manager/Professional Staff
David Cohen

 1st Place: David Cohen
UH College of Natural Sciences

David and his team retrofitted an old shrimp aquaculture facility to create a large-scale sea urchin hatchery at the Anuenue Fisheries Research Station. Now approaching its 10-year anniversary, this 24/7 operation has released 600,000 sea urchins in Hawaiian waters. Their release has controlled invasive seaweed in over 270 acres of reefs, allowing other native marine species to thrive. It is the single-most successful marine invasive species control project in Hawai‘i to date.

Michael von Platen

2nd Place: Michael von Platen
UH John A. Burns School of Medicine

As a TCR Systems Programmer, Michael single-handedly designed and coordinated the transition and integration of a complex audio-video system for simulation-based education.  This impacted the entire JABSOM student body in preparedness for a critical national qualification examination. His forward thinking also allowed a significant portion of the curriculum to be transitioned to e-learning, which became critical during the COVID-19 work-at-home restrictions.

Outstanding Project Support Staff
Yoshitake Nabeshima

1st Place: Yoshitake Nabeshima
Subaru Telescope

Few can claim that they saved their project $400,000, but Yoshitake can! When Subaru Telescope’s Cassegrain image rotator needed to be removed and repaired, the manufacturer recommended that telescope operations be shut down for two months. Yoshitake singularly came up with the idea of using dummy weights as a substitute for the rotator during the repair. This significantly reduced the repair time to three weeks and without loss of observation time.

Hope Ronco

2nd Place: Hope Ronco
UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

Transporting four monk seals from the Ke Kai Ola rehabilitation hospital to Midway Atoll for release is a high-stakes mission, made even more complex and challenging during a pandemic. Hope facilitated meetings, ensured staff were trained, and developed contingency plans should the USCG need to abort the transport. Because of her contributions, this life-saving mission was carried out safely, efficiently, and with great satisfaction from all partners involved.

Outstanding Team
Maunakea Weather Station Team

1st Place: Maunakea Weather Center
Tiziana Cherubini, Ryan Lyman

Because of the sustained effort by Tiziana and Ryan, MKWC astronomical weather forecasts are considered the best in the world—a result of complex global and local data gathering, the application of custom weather algorithms, and specialized insights gained from years of experience.

2nd Place: Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at the University of Hawai’i
Benjamin Jones, Joshua Levy, Ted Ralston, Aricia Argyris

This team worked with the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force to develop a delivery-and-capture system for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). They also trained Navy personnel to operate sUAS from shore and from onboard the submarine.

Honorable Mentions

Fritzie Celino-Brady – UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

Serge Chastel – UH Institute for Astronomy

Stan Fichtman – Kapi’olani Community College

Mark Huber – UH Institute for Astronomy

Dawn Namahoe Sidman – UH Hilo Research Office

Mary Jo Riehm – UH Hilo Research Office

Sean Tanimoto – Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at the University of Hawai’i

Congratulations to all of the 2020 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

Travis Berger

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

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

Victor Kilonzo

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.