All posts by Campus Talk

Osler Go and Johnathan Walk met through the UH Academy for Creative Media.

1001 Stories

As a result of watching movies like Indiana Jones, Osler Go knew he wanted to pursue a career in film from age 12. But growing up in Oʻahu’s Kalihi neighborhood with parents who emigrated from the Philippines, Go did not know if it would be possible.

“My mom was a maid and my dad always had two full-time jobs, sometimes three,” he recalls. “For practical purposes, we needed to get real jobs to help the family. It’s not like I could go around filming when my dad was putting in 80-hour work weeks.”

His family’s move to Hawaiʻi Kai was a pivotal event. “My parents wanted to provide for us better,” Go says. “Being shown the opportunities of what was available was a big deal.” He graduated from Kaiser High School and enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, pursuing a major in anthropology and a minor in history. The first member of his family to attend college, Go worked full-time to pay for tuition.

After graduating in 2006 and working as a computer analyst, he decided to get serious about a career in film. His background in anthropology provided a basis for writing scripts. “I majored in anthropology because I love culture and cultural activity,” he says. “I still retain a lot of concepts from my anthropology classes when I write scripts today.”

Mutual friends introduced Go to Johnathan Walk, a student in UH’s Academy for Creative Media.  Like Go, Walk had wanted to pursue a career in film from an earlier age.

“ACM puts you into contact with other like-minded individuals. We realized we had a similar tone and style, certain qualities that we respect and admire about films. We got along well so we started working together,” recalls Walk, who is majoring in film and TV production and plans to graduate this Spring.

In 2007, Go, Walk and a few other partners entered the UH Mānoa Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Shidler College of Business.

Winning in the Best Business Plan, Undergraduate Category convinced them that they could form their own company, and 1001 Stories was born two years later. Go is the writer/director/producer; Walk is director of photography and primary editor.

“There’s the idea that there can be many stories behind anything and everything,” Go says of their business name. “We love the idea that there’s so many available perspectives and viewpoints. The ‘1000’ is a reference to the possibilities and opportunities; the ‘1’ is the singularity, the uniqueness of all those possibilities.”

“Culturally, the number ‘1000’ is an infinite,” Walk adds. “It’s that infinite portion that attracted us. Also, the idea of ‘1’—the power of the masses and the power of the individual.”

An individual’s experiences contribute to the heart of a film’s story, according to Go. He often pulls lessons from his own childhood when writing scripts. “One of the problems of aspiring filmmakers is they pull from movies rather than real life. The heart of a story should come from something that you bring yourself.”

Walk, whose mother is a Vietnamese immigrant, agrees that their upbringing contributes to their work. “The common thing about first generations is that our parents provided us with work ethic and discipline,” he says.

“Our parents had to work doubly hard; we saw that,” says Go. “We can’t help but pick up on their ‘don’t take things for granted’ viewpoint. We’re aspiring filmmakers who will do whatever it takes to do our stories.”

Hawaiʻi News Now interviewed Go on campus about 1001’s UH Mānoa commercials.

The duo has also created TV commercials for clients such as Hawaiian Telcom and tribute documentaries, including one filmed for Japan’s Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation.

Five student recruitment commercials they made for UH Mānoa won the American Advertising Federation Hawaiʻi 2011 Pele Award for Best Television Campaign.

The partners also participate in charitable efforts, from the Hawaiʻi Children’s Cancer Foundation to Films by Youth Inside, a two-week program conducted at the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua.  After a crash-course in film, the youths create a short film with the 1001 guys’ help.

But Go and Walk focus on more than the film techniques.  “More important than showing them about film is providing that opportunity or letting them recognize that there is an opportunity,” Go says. “Empowering them this way, letting them film their own films, shows them they can do things other than what they were previously doing. That’s the biggest lesson they take away from this.”

This article originally ran in the Fall 2011 issue Mālamalama.  See http://www.hawaii.edu/malamalama/2011/10/1001-stories/.

Top photo: Osler Go and Johnathan Walk met through the UH Academy for Creative Media.

Biostat core group

Building a healthy core

Health studies make headlines nearly every day—and rightly so, since most of us want to read about ways to enjoy healthier lives. But what happens when the newest studies seem to yield conflicting findings?

Dr. John Chen

“You really have a medical impact if you publish a study, and you certainly do not want to mislead the public,” said Dr. John Chen of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). “Unfortunately, an alarming number of biomedical studies, even published studies, do not seem to have a sound study design or have handled their data inappropriately.”

Dr. Chen and his team of statistical professionals, the new Biostatistics & Data Management Core at JABSOM, are available to collaborate with investigators on grants and to provide research design and statistical analysis support to basic science, clinical and translational researchers.  Their research design and data analysis skills can be an enormous help to researchers.

Chen added that they can help researchers from very early on, at the conception of a study.  “As statisticians, we have been trained to think about randomization, bias, blinding, confounding, concepts which are critical to an investigation that biomedical researchers may or may not have thought about. Certainly as professional biostatisticians, data analysis is also our bread-and-butter.  To have us handle your data management and analysis is like having CPAs doing your tax returns.  It might cost you a little bit, but will be worry free,” said Chen.

Even better, professional biostatistics and data management support can help increase the odds that a biomedical researcher gets the opportunity in the first place to embark on a research investigation.

“A researcher’s chance of receiving funding is improved dramatically when sound statistical reasoning and design, and proper data analysis plan are employed to support the investigator,” Chen explained.  The availability and strength of biostatistics and research design expertise has been shown to result in substantive increases in the research funding and the quality of biological and health sciences research at academic centers across the country.  Chen points to institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, with more than 140 biostatisticians, and even smaller universities like Wake Forest, which has over 60.   Chen’s new team at JABSOM currently includes three other Ph.D. consultants, Hyeong Jun Ahn, James Davis, and Guangxiang (George) Zhang.

Since the reopening of the core, various types of service requests have been coming in. “We’re like a good plumber,” said Chen with a smile. “People come to us with different problems all along the research chain, from study design to interpreting findings, and we try our best to help them all go through smoothly.”

The Biostatistics & Data Management Core is trying to reach out to as many people as it can, in and out of academia.  “With strong collaborations and support from biostatistics groups at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, the Department of Public Health Sciences, and Hawai’i State Department of Health, we want to build a ‘Hawai’i Biostat ‘Ohana’ to encourage more communication and collaboration among biostatistical professionals working in our islands,” said Chen.  “We want to help produce the next generation of strong, independent investigators, research leaders and mentors in Hawai’i.”

The Biostatistics & Data Management Core is located on the top floor of the Medical Education Building in Kaka`ako. It’s worth the elevator ride to get there.

The Biostatistics & Data Management Core website is at http://biostat.jabsom.hawaii.edu/.

Top photo: Pictured are members of the Biostatistics & Data Management Core: Guangxiang (George) Zhang, Ph.D.; John J. Chen, Ph.D., Director; James Davis, Ph.D., Karli Taniguchi; Hyeong Jun Ahn, PhD. Photo credit: Iris Chen.

Mars

Out of this world

If you can’t be an astronaut, why not eat like one?  The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Cornell University are on a joint mission: Find eight people with qualifications similar to those required by NASA astronaut applicants to take part in a NASA-funded Mars analog habitat study, Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS. 

According to the HI-SEAS website, lengthy space exploration missions have required specialized foods to sustain an isolated crew over long periods of time in places with limited or no access to food in the local environment. Enter prepackaged rehydratable or ready-to-consume foods for meals. Nevertheless, astronauts eating a restricted diet over a period of months ultimately experience “menu fatigue,” also known as food monotony.  This notion of “menu fatigue” puts astronauts at risk for nutritional deficiency, loss of bone and muscle mass, and reduced physical capabilities.  Compounded with the notion of “menu fatigue,” only a few of the many available astronaut foods have the three- to five-year shelf life required of foods for a Mars mission. 

Kim Binsted

“I got involved in this study because I served as a crew member in another long-term analog study, in the Canadian High Arctic,” said UH Mānoa Information and Computer Sciences Associate Professor Kim Binsted.  “So I was highly motivated to figure out how to make tasty food out of shelf-stable ingredients.”

The HI-SEAS food study is designed to simulate the living and working experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and to compare two types of food systems – crew cooked vs. pre-prepared – in the context of a four-month Mars analog mission. Specifically, participants in this group will explore the impact of food preparation, food monotony, nasal congestion and smelling acuity on food and nutrient intake in isolated, confined microsocieties. 

In addition, the study explains that crewmembers will wear “spacesuits” whenever they need to venture outside and consume a diet including both freeze-dried and dehydrated foods similar to present-day astronaut foods, plus foods that they prepare themselves from shelf-stable supplies—an alternative approach to feeding crews of long-term planetary outposts. The study will also track the use of habitat resources related to cooking and eating to provide data for future designs of planetary habitats.  

Once the eight finalists are selected, they will embark on a five-day training workshop in early summer 2012 on the Cornell University campus in New York to train in research procedures and use of the research equipment, learn how to plan menus and prepare appealing meals from shelf-stable ingredients, and work together to plan their activities for the habitat experiences. The group will then be divided, with six forming the habitat crew and two serving as research support specialists/alternates.  

A two-week-long training mission to test research procedures and experience living in a Mars-like environment is planned for the fall of 2012. The last phase of the study, a four-month analog experience, is planned for early 2013.

For more information, visit: http://www.manoa.hawaii.edu/hi-seas.

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A salute to better medical care

Third-year medical students suit up for surgery. Photo by Arnold Kameda, JABSOM.
Third-year medical students suit up for surgery. Photo by Arnold Kameda, JABSOM.

There are different ways to show support for active military and veterans, ranging from throwing parades with marching bands to shaking the hands of soldiers in uniform.  Now the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is thanking those who safeguard our country by participating in Joining Forces, a national program intent on improving health care for active duty military, veterans and their families.

JABSOM joins First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden (wife of Vice President Biden), the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine as they encourage a new generation of doctors, medical schools and research facilities to make sure military heroes receive exemplary medical care. Coordinating JABSOM’s response is retired U.S. Army Colonel Larry Burgess, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Telehealth Research Institute.

“Our medical school has a long history of collaboration with the military and their dependents in understanding the unique challenges faced by deploying soldiers and their families during and after deployment,” explains Dr. Burgess.  He notes that many of JABSOM’s physicians in training and medical students complete rotations at Tripler Army Medical Center and Veterans Affairs medical clinics.  “This gives trainees a first-hand experience in understanding the problems experienced by the military and veterans.” 

Dr. Lawrence Burgess
Dr. Lawrence Burgess

Dr. Burgess explains that with the advent of Joining Forces, JABSOM is modifying its medical school curriculum, particularly those involving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  For example, in the past, medical students would study the symptoms of a hypothetical 35-year-old male patient suffering from TBI after being involved in a terrible car accident.  Now the scenario would involve a military patient injured in a Humvee when a roadside bomb exploded.  This emphasis will provide students with a better understanding of the post-injury sequelae faced by soldiers as they return home and transition to the community. 

It’s a natural outgrowth for JABSOM to become more involved in the treatment of military veterans, because its Ho‘oikaika (“to strive”) program already assists both military and civilians in managing PTSD and TBI. As described by Ho‘oikaika Project Director Robin Brandt, PhD, “Our mission is to help individuals with TBI to access social services and achieve greater independence through peer mentoring.” 

Joining Forces is the largest coordinated commitment from America’s medical colleges to support veterans and military families. Since 2000, the U.S. Defense Department estimates nearly 213,000 military personnel have suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, after more than 10 years of war.

For more information on Joining Forces, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces and http://jabsom.hawaii.edu. For more information on Ho‘oikaika at JABSOM, see http://manoa.hawaii.edu/pbrrtc/hooikaika/?page_id=52

David Franzen, copyright 2011

Pleased to be platinum

UH Foundation, copyright 2011
C-MORE Director and Oceanography Professor Dave Karl. Photo courtesy of UH Foundation.
In 2006, planning began for a brand-new building at UH Mānoa that would house the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), whose operations were dispersed across campus in four separate locations.  Back then, Oceanography Professor and C-MORE Director Dave Karl was familiar with LEED building certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a prestigious rating system for sustainability in construction and design established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.  

Ratings ranged from the lowest, certified, to silver, gold, and at the very top, platinum—an honor that was extremely rare and difficult to achieve.  “I would have been very pleased with LEED Gold certification, but Vassilis Syrmos (Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education) and the team at Group 70 Architects thought that LEED Platinum might be within reach,” remembers Karl. 

The more Karl thought about it, the more excited he became.  Why not strive for the highest level of certification, since UH Mānoa has been locally and nationally recognized for cutting its energy usage and leading the charge to lessen its dependence on fossil fuel consumption?  Says Karl, “After all, C-MORE scientists are committed to learning more about the natural world, and sustainability of life in the sea.  So when the opportunity arose to help design a new laboratory to support their work, they were also committed to a sustainable building design.”

Fast-forward to 2012.  Today, in the lobby of C-MORE Hale, located next to the Biomedical Sciences building at the end of East-West Road, is a proud display of welcome that announces exciting news.  Visitors are impressed to learn that they are standing in the very first research laboratory building in Hawai‘i, and one of the few in the country, to receive the highest level of LEED certification.   

The Platinum rating is based on C-MORE’s green design and construction features that positively impacted the project itself and the broader community.  These attributes include:

  • The use of 48% less potable water, compared to a conventional building of similar size and use, through incorporation of ultra low-flow toilets, automated faucets and waterless urinals.
  • Diversion of 25,000 gallons of water from city storm drains through the implementation of an underground storm water chamber detention system. 
  • Establishment of a 2,400 square foot green roof that helps to reduce storm water runoff, reduce building temperature, increase carbon dioxide removal and provide a beautiful eco-habitat for insects and birds.  The green roof contains a variety of native and adapted plants, including Aloe, ‘Akulikuli, Sedum and Portulaca.
  • The reduction of irrigation demand by 65% in comparison to typical turf (grass) landscape typically found on campus.  The landscape design incorporated dry stream beds with river rocks in lieu of turf grass, drought-tolerant planting and native landscaping like ‘Aki‘aki and Naupaka, and a drip irrigation with rain-sensing irrigation controls to reduce water demand significantly.
  • Utilization of solar hot water heat recovery, which contributes to reduction of the building’s energy consumption by 52.2% over a standard laboratory of similar size and usage, translating into a 31.4% savings in energy costs a year.  In addition, 78% of spaces in the building are considered day-lit, which saves an immense amount of energy.  The primary building lighting is equipped with smart controls, in which occupancy sensors shut off lights when rooms are unoccupied and light sensors reduce the light levels according to the amount of daylight detected.

 

C-MORE Hale is also the winner of a 2011 Kukulu Hale Award from the Hawai‘i Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties in the category New Project-Commercial/Other, 40,000 square feet or less.

“We all worked as a coherent team in bringing the building to the standards that we envisioned,” says Karl.  “So here we are today celebrating this great achievement.”

C-MORE is one of only 17 National Science Foundation-sponsored Science and Technology Centers.  The building provides 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research laboratory and support spaces focused on the study of ocean microbes.  Completed in 2010, C-MORE exemplifies a new direction in research facility—one that promotes interdisciplinary collaboration, transparent connectivity and representation of its research mission.

For more information on C-MORE, see http://cmore.soest.hawaii.edu.

Top photo: An exterior shot of C-MORE Hale. Photo by David Franzen, copyright 2011

Lab space in C-MORE Hale.  Photo by David Franzen, copyright 2011
Lab space in C-MORE Hale. Photo by David Franzen, copyright 2011
Dick Pratt receives a certificate and medallion conferred by Academy Rector Chuluubaatar.

Transitioning Mongolia

For a man whose interests lie in organizational diagnosis, reform for public organizations, educational innovation, the design of learning environments, political-economy, and globalization and public institutions, it is fitting that he was honored for doing what he loves.

Dick Pratt, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Public Administration Program Director, recently received two awards for his work in Mongolia. He became an Honorary Professor at the National Academy of Governance in Ulaanbaatar for enhancing the quality of its teaching and research on September 20.  The Academy is the institution responsible for educating current and future public leaders and civil servants in Mongolia.

Pratt also received a certificate and medallion conferred by Academy Rector Chuluubaatar on behalf of the nation’s President for contributions to the country’s transition to democracy. He was in Mongolia for a conference on the challenges and opportunities of democracy, for which he was a co-convener and keynote speaker.

Said Pratt, “I have been extremely fortunate to develop relationships with wonderful colleagues in Mongolia, and to work closely with them on projects aimed at strengthening their public organizations and their graduate education on behalf of their evolving democracy.”

Pratt, who received his doctorate from UH Mānoa, is a Professor of Public Administration.  His international work has focused on strengthening public institutions in transitional settings, and in the reform of public higher education.  He has been working in Thailand since 1996 and in Mongolia since 2002.

The Public Administration Program (PUBA) focuses on building leadership for public service and strengthening public organizations, government and nonprofit groups in Hawai‘i and in the Asia-Pacific region.  It was founded in 1984 and today offers a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and two graduate certificates.  PUBA has an alumni network of over 500 graduates.  The Program is highly interdisciplinary and emphasizes the ability to apply what is learned to address the complex issues that face people in public service roles.

Top photo: Dick Pratt receives a certificate and medallion conferred by Academy Rector Chuluubaatar.

New Image

Mahalo to OHA

Significantly situated next to a lush and tranquil taro patch, UH Mānoa’s Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge appropriately nurtures the roots of the native culture that makes these islands so special.  And, in four short years, there’s no question the school has also made great strides in boosting its extramural fund to $3 million in contracts and grants.  Now, the Native Hawaiian Student Services at UH Mānoa is one of five recipients of an Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) grant to help improve conditions for Native Hawaiians.

OHA’s Board of Trustees recently awarded $1.8 million in grant money to a combined total of five programs aimed at helping Native Hawaiians improve their health, education and economic self-sufficiency.

One of the awards went to Hawai‘inuiākea: Namely, $180,000 over two years to Native Hawaiian Student Services to fund an internship program designed to assist about 40 Native Hawaiian students with their unified goal of graduating from college within a 2-to-4 year timeframe. The name of the program, Aka Lehulehu, refers to a well-worn path created by a mentor and literally refers to “shadowing.” Aka Lehulehu focuses on providing internships to undeclared, upper division Native Hawaiian students to help them clarify their values and work toward self-efficacy and a major—thereby, supporting the 2-to-4 year graduation time line.

Another grant of $500,000 over two years was awarded to UH Mānoa to fund the Partnerships to Improve Lifestyle Interventions (PILI) ‘Ohana Program. The aim of PILI ‘Ohana is to integrate community wisdom and expertise with scientific methods to conduct research on health disparities, with a specific emphasis on obesity, in Native Hawaiian, Filipinos, Chuukese and other Pacific Islanders.

The PILI ‘Ohana program represents a partnership between 10 community-based organizations throughout the State of Hawai‘i and a team of academic researchers from the UH Mānoa  Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

The funds cover a two-year period and target programs that are expected to directly benefit an estimated 1,810 Native Hawaiians. Each of the five programs will receive between $179,700 and $ 500,000 over the next two years.

Hawai‘inuiākea is the youngest school at UH Mānoa, established in 2007 by combining the Departments of Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian Language. Both academic units offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees that serve an estimated 200 students majoring in Hawaiian Language, with the same number majoring in Hawaiian Studies. An additional 1,600 students take classes within the program to fulfill general requirements for other majors.

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Singing the praises of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

A classroom full of lucky music students experienced the chance of a lifetime recently, when Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the noted New Zealand/Maori soprano opera singer, stopped by the UH Mānoa campus to lead an intimate masterclass. Imagine—the students and other lucky audience members benefitted from the expertise and artistry of an operatic superstar with 40 years of stage time throughout the world.  Kanawa was in Honolulu for a September concert at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Rachel Schutz, a seasoned soprano recitalist and adjunct voice instructor at UH Mānoa, was in awe of the intensity of the session, and how Kanawa was both honest and demanding of the students. “She didn’t let them get away with anything, and if they weren’t able to get exactly what she wanted, then she kept trying and thinking of new ways until they succeeded. Her demonstration was great,” recalled Schutz.

Rose Lane, a second year Master of Music student in Vocal Performance who also teaches three classes at Kapi‘olani Community College, was the first nervous student called up to sing for Kanawa.  But Lane still revels in the excitement of that moment. “She was absolutely amazing!” exclaimed Lane. “She gave the impression that she really cared about me as a singer, which was evident in the way she responded to my questions during and after the masterclass and how she tried to push me to get my artistry to a new level.  It was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that none of us will forget.”

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Who will chart the rain?

Raingage in Haleakalā, Maui. Photo credit: John DeLay

Anyone who lives in Hawai‘i knows that weather—or, more specifically, the likelihood of rain—is a very important part of everyday life, as evidenced by the sheer number of meteorologists and weather forecasters employed by local TV news stations. 

So it’s no surprise that one of the most frequently cited and referred to publications is the Rainfall Atlas of Hawai‘i, which was first published in 1986 by UH Mānoa Geography Professor Tom Giambelluca, Meteorology Professor Tom Schroeder and Michael Nullet, currently a Geography Research Assistant. The printed publication provided a set of maps of the spatial patterns of rainfall for the major Hawaiian Islands. 

Digital maps called rasters or grids were created based on the team’s analysis.
Fast forward 25 years, and Giambelluca is at it again. He, along with UH Mānoa Geography Assistant Professor Qi Chen and Masters’ student Abby Frazier, recently led a team of UH Mānoa researchers to create a new, interactive online website housing updated rainfall patterns. Giambelluca specializes in climate, climate change, and ecohydrology.

Developed to make rainfall maps, data and related information easily accessible, the website features high resolution downloadable digital maps for mean monthly and annual rainfall and uncertainty for each station used in the analysis, as well as files with information on each rain gage station. 

Mean Annual Rainfall for the State of Hawai‘i

Another unique component of the website is that it allows users to view the patterns of mean monthly and annual rainfall and corresponding uncertainty, zoom in on areas of particular interest, navigate to specific locations with the help of a choice of different base maps, and click on any location to get the mean annual rainfall and a graph and table of mean monthly rainfall. 

Over the course of the two-year project, rainfall measurements taken at over 1,000 stations were used as the principal source of information in the development of the rainfall maps. The maps represent the best estimates of the mean rainfall for the 30-year base period 1978-2007. However, for many reasons, it is not possible to determine the exact value of mean rainfall for any location. Therefore, for every map of mean rainfall, corresponding map of uncertainty is provided.

Knowledge of the mean rainfall patterns is critically important for a variety of meteorological, agricultural and resource management issues, including ground water and surface water development and protection, controlling and eradicating invasive species, protecting and restoring native ecosystems, and planning for the effects of global warming.  And, when you live in Hawai‘i and want to enjoy the outdoors as many days as possible, it’s simply invaluable.

To access the website, visit: http://rainfall.geography.hawaii.edu/.  Contact Giambelluca at thomas@hawaii.edu.

Top photo by Adam Levine/cogdog

The Pallada. Image courtesy Pallada.

Right on track

Hoisting up to Pallada the Japanese boat registered to Fukushima Prefecture and, presumably, washsed into the ocean during the March 11 tsunami. Image courtesy Pallada.
Ever since the devastating Japan tsunami on March 11, 2011, washed millions of tons of debris into the Pacific, scientists at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s International Pacific Research Center have been trying to track the trajectory of this debris that can threaten small ships and coastlines.

For nearly half a year, senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko and scientific coSmputer programmer Jan Hafner had only their state-of-the-art – but still untested – computer model of currents to speculate where the debris might end up. Now valuable sightings of the debris are reported from places where the model predicted.

On its homeward voyage from Honolulu to Vladivostok, the Russian sail training ship, the STS Pallada, warned by maps of the scientists’ model, found an array of unmistakable tsunami debris. Soon after passing Midway Islands, Pallada spotted surprising number of floating items. “On September 22, in position 31042,21 N and 174045,21 E, we picked up on board the Japanese fishing boat. Radioactivity level – normal, we’ve measured it with the Geiger counter,” wrote Natalia Borodina, information and education mate of the Pallada. “At the approaches to the mentioned position (maybe 10 – 15 minutes before) we also sighted a TV set, fridge and a couple of other home appliances.”

Borodina adds on September 27 that “we keep sighting everyday things like wooden boards, plastic bottles, buoys from fishing nets (small and big ones), an object resembling wash basin, drums, boots, other wastes. All these objects are floating by the ship.”

Map of Pallada's route

The map shows the stretch of Pallada’s route where debris was sighted between September 21 and 28, 2011. The red rhombus marks the location where the Japanese boat was found, and the red circle denotes maximum debris density experienced. Purple color shows the distribution of the tsunami debris in the SCUD model on September 25.

On October 8, the Pallada entered the port of Vladivostok. The most remarkable photo taken of the voyage is of a small fishing vessel about 20 feet long, which they were able to hoist up on to the Pallada. The markings on the wheel house of the boat show its home port to be in the Fukushima Prefecture, the area hardest hit by the tsunami.

With the exact locations of some of the by now widely scattered debris, scientists can make more accurate projections about when the debris might arrive at the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The first landfall on Midway Islands is anticipated this winter. The debris that misses Midway will continue toward the main Hawaiian Islands and the North American West Coast.