2020 Outstanding Employee Award Nominees – Non-Exempt
Project Support Staff Category

Yoshitake NabeshimaYoshitake Nabeshima, Subaru Telescope, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ)

Few can claim that they saved their project $400,000, but Yoshitake can! When the 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. In another emergency repair, Yoshitake’s leadership and extensive troubleshooting of the primary mirror support actuator pinpointed the failure to an encoder inside the actuator motor assembly. As a result, the telescope was recovered in just two days. Yoshitake also helps to reduce costs by fabricating various maintenance parts using 3D printers.

Mary Jo RiehmMary Jo Riehm, UH Hilo Research Office

Sometimes it’s the sum total of an employee’s contributions that make them outstanding. You can say that about Mary Jo. Over the course of 12 years, her steady presence and sustained performance have kept extramural projects—each with their own myriad of rules and regulations—running smoothly. Her knowledge of federal, state, and county grant management and procurement has been an invaluable service to Principal Investigator William Mautz.  He added that “(Mary Jo) has always been available to answer my questions and help me navigate the fiscal aspects of my grants and contracts, which I would otherwise find bewildering.” With a seamless transition to remote work, Mary Jo has continued to provide expert and timely service and support to keep Mautz’s research projects running smoothly—from procuring supplies to handling fiscal details on federal contracts.

Hope RoncoHope Ronco, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST)

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 this pandemic. Nevertheless, Hope volunteered to develop and implement the plan. She did a stellar job fostering collaborative relationships and communications with crucial federal partners, KKO, and JIMAR; facilitating meetings; making detailed supply and equipment lists; ensuring staff were trained; developing contingency plans, such as where to hold the seals should the USCG need to abort the transport; and creating a human health risks assessment. Largely because of Hope’s contributions, this life-saving mission went according to plan, was carried out safely, efficiently, and with great satisfaction and praise from all partners involved.

Sean TanimotoSean Tanimoto, Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at the University of Hawai‘i

As an ARL/STEM Fiscal and Administrative Associate, one of Sean’s primary functions is to provide fiscal analysis and budgetary information to PIs of tasks funded via the ARL contract. Sean created a sophisticated method to allow him to extract and combine financial details with labor hours to produce a detailed monthly budget status, spending totals, and forecasts that extend to the end of the project. He also takes the time to contact PIs and work with them if labor hours for program goals are not meeting projections. This information is critical to task success and allows the PI to contact the sponsor well in advance to discuss task modifications. In addition to these tasks, Sean leads the analysis and projections for ARL’s Prorated Direct Cost and Fee funds, which enable ARL to hire technical and research staff and invest in new initiatives.