Orou Gaoue

Department of Botany
ogaoue [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Research in my lab is at the interface of population ecology and ethnoecology and uses mathematical models, field observations and experiments as well as ethnographic methods to study plant-human interactions. I am interested in basic ecological questions with implications for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. My research emphasizes the role of environmental stochasticity on the response of ecological systems to perturbation. In terms of environmental stochasticity, I focus on both stochastic temporal variation in the ecological conditions in which plants occur and stochasticity in the behavior of human (or any agent) who interact with these resources. I tend to focus on plant populations. However, I am developing new projects to investigate the effects of perturbation and fragmentation on plant-insect mutualism. Here in Hawaii, the focus of the lab will be on the population viability analysis of endangered plants.More…

Alex Golub

Department of Anthropology
golub [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Bio: Alex Golub has degrees in anthropology from Reed College (BA) and the University of Chicago (MA and Ph.D.). He is a political anthropologist who studies the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea and its relationship with the local community on whose land it is located. His book Leviathans at the Gold Mine: Creating Indigenous and Corporate Actors at the Porgera Gold Mine was published by Duke University Press in 2014. More broadly, he is interested in social change and resource extraction as they relate to cultural sustainability. In addition to political anthropology and Pacific studies, he has an interest in 20th century intellectual history.More…

Gary Holton

Department of Linguistics
holton [at] hawaii [dot] edu

As a documentary linguist my work focuses on creating a lasting record of endangered human languages, particularly the non-Austronesian (Papuan) languages of eastern Indonesia and the Dene (Athabascan) languages of Alaska. Most of these languages are in danger of disappearing, and their systematic documentation preserves endangered knowledge systems while also contributing to an understanding of the diversity of human languages. My approach to language documentation is holistic and relies crucially on trans-disciplinary, collaborative methodologies. [website]


  • Traditional ecological knowledge of Abui (NSF BCS-1535763) (supplement to the project Alor-Pantar Languages: Origins and Theoretical Impact)
  • Documenting Gwich’in Indigenous astronomy (NSF OPP-1317245)
  • Linking maps, manuscripts, and place names data to improve environmental knowledge in Alaska (NSF OPP-1415603)

Noa Kekuewa Lincoln

Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences
nlincoln [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Bio: Noa Lincoln is kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) and kama’aina (native born) to Kealakekua on Hawai’i Island. His childhood consists of unique training by Hawaiian elders in la’au lapa’au (ethnobotany) and traditional management methods for agriculture and ocean resources. Dr. Lincoln completed his formal trainings at Yale University (ʻ03) in Environmental Engineering and Stanford University (ʻ13) in Biogeochemistry and Social Ecology. He has worked and studied across the Pacific Rim in California, Costa Rica, Brazil, New Zealand, Tahiti, and the Marquesas, among other places. Much of his applied training through mentorship has focused on the installation of cultural values into management systems, often through the development of multiple bottom line assessment tools.

Projects: Dr. Lincoln has and continues to research a broad spectrum of areas, including forest ecology and management, restoration ecology, archaeology, personal values and sense of place, and terrestrial biogeochemistry within both natural and human dominated systems (i.e. agriculture). His primary focus, however, is on indigenous cropping systems and their interaction with human societies in both the past and the present. Using development pathways on islands as model systems for understanding the complex interaction between humans and their environment, Noa builds upon the important work of the human biocomplexity project (see Kirch 2010 for a good summary). By working with modern day restoration efforts Noa also seeks to define the role that these systems have today, including their impacts on culture, education, environment, and food.

Alexander Mawyer

Center for Pacific Island Studies
mawyer [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Bio: Alex earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago, for which he conducted fieldwork with the Mangarevan community in the Gambier and Society Islands of French Polynesia, focused on language at the intersection of history and politics. Some of his active research interests include the language of “nature” in Eastern Polynesia, issues of place and space in Pacific homelands, issues of language shift and revitalization, and legacies of the nuclear experience in French Polynesia.

Projects: In summer 2015, commencing a summer “pilot” project on the domestic transmission of language-encoded LEK situated in house gardens in Weno, Chuuk State, FSM. Alex has an ongoing project on rivers and springs in French Polynesia, and on the cultural cognition of language and space.

Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor

Department of Ethnic Studies
davianna [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Bio: Professor McGregor is founding member of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, is a historian of Hawai’i and the Pacific. Her PhD in Hawaiian and Pacific History was completed at the University of HawaiʻI, Mānoa in 1989. Her ongoing research endeavors document the persistence of traditional Hawaiian cultural customs, beliefs, and practices in rural Hawaiian communities, including the island of Moloka’i; the districts of Puna and Ka’u on Hawai’i; Ke’anae-Wailuanui on Maui and Waiahole-Waikane on O’ahu. This work is featured in her 2007 UH Press book, Kua’aina: Living Hawaiian Culture which won the Kenneth W. Balridge Prize for best book in any field of history written by a resident of Hawai’i from 2005-2007.

Projects: Pōmaikaʻi is conducting research on the original Native Hawaiians who lived in Kalaupapa, Kalawao, Makanalua and Waikolu before it was designated as a place to isolate HawaiʻI residents who contracted leprosy. She is part of a team working on the designation and implementation of the Moʻomomi Northwest Coast of Molokaʻi as Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA). As a member of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, she helps to steward the island of Kanaloa Kahoʻolawe. She helps to coordinate huakaʻi or cultural field trips for students, faculty and community members to engage in cultural and spiritual practices to heal the island and honor it as a sacred center for learning and mastery of Native Hawaiian cultural beliefs, customs and practices.

Heather McMillen

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management
hmcmille [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Bio: I am an affiliate faculty member of NREM and a social science researcher with the US Forest Service. I am an ethnobiologist with a PhD in anthropology and a certificate in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. My research investigates the relationships among local knowledge, community-based resource management, and global environmental change. I am interested in the role of natural resources as cultural resources, the interactions between environmental and human health, and collaborative resource management. I am broadly interested in how diverse perspectives can improve our understanding of our reciprocal relationships with nature, and offer insights on thoughtful ways of living in the world.More…

Jonathan Padwe

Department of Anthropology
padwe [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Bio: Jonathan Padwe is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa. His research explores the production of nature and culture in borderlands and frontiers. He is currently at work on a book manuscript, tentatively titled Written on the Land: Violence and Social Formation on a Cambodian Frontier. The book tells the story of post-war land use change and “development” from the point of view of a small village near the Vietnam border in northeast Cambodia, and is based on years of ethnographic field research with the Jarai highland minority group. He previously conducted extensive field research with Aché foragers in eastern Paraguay.More…

Barry Rolett

Department of Anthropology
rolett [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Barry Rolett is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii. He specializes in the archaeology of French Polynesia and southeast China. His research investigates Polynesian origins and the role of humans in the evolution of island landscapes. Specific themes include deforestation, faunal extinctions, and arboriculture. Rolett has led or participated in more than twenty archaeological expeditions to French Polynesia and Fujian Province (China). He received his Ph.D. from Yale University and has taught at UH-Manoa since 1988 except for two years (1998-99 and 2000-2001) as Visiting Associate Professor of Pacific Archaeology at Harvard University.

Michael B. Thomas

Department of Botany
mbthomas [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Bio: Michael Thomas has degrees in Forest Management from Virginia Tech (BSc) and Plant Sciences from the University of Florida (PhD Botany, MS Horticulture). He arrived to the Pacific Islands as a Peace Corps volunteer (Kingdom of Tonga) in 1989. Serving for 4 years, he worked to identify and promote local tree crop varieties to strengthen the traditional Tongan agricultural system in the face of shifting monocultural crop production. He has worked and studied ethnomedical knowledge systems in Brazil, Jamaica, and more recently across the Pacific Rim in Hawaii, Tonga, Palau , Samoa, and Fiji. Much of his applied work has been in the developing world, he has worked on numerous agribusiness development projects in more than 20 countries focusing on ex-situ and in-situ plant conservation, indigenous crop management, value chain processing, and sustainable value-added agricultural production including non-timber forest products.More…