Category Archives: Featured Profile

img6785_4570l

UH ranked among top universities for excellence in scientific publications

The University of Hawai‘i has just been ranked among the top world universities for its scientific publications.

On October 10, the National Taiwan University Ranking (NTU Ranking) team released the results of its 2014 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities. The ranking lists the University of Hawai‘i as 203rd Overall, and 80th in the United States, out of the top 500 world universities.

Five University of Hawai‘i subject areas and/or fields were identified as leaders among the top-ranked universities:

  • Geosciences – Ranked 17
  • Environment/Ecology – Ranked 88
  • Physics – Ranked 104
  • Natural Sciences – Ranked 105
  • Plant & Animal Science – Ranked 109

“This is a welcome recognition of the importance of the scientific research done by our faculty and students,” said Brian Taylor, UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor for Research. “We are particularly pleased to be ranked in the top 20 world universities for our work in the geosciences (earth, ocean, atmospheric and planetary sciences).”

“Today, the output of published scientific papers has become a more objective metric used to determine a university’s research performance,” added UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos. “I am very pleased with the University of Hawai`i’s recent NTU Ranking and its snapshot of our continuing efforts in research productivity, research impact and research excellence.”

About the National Taiwan University Ranking: http://nturanking.lis.ntu.edu.tw/
The Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities is a stable and reliable ranking for universities devoted to scientific research. It is entirely based on statistics of scientific papers which reflect three major performance criteria—research productivity, research impact, and research excellence. This year, in addition to the overall performance ranking, NTU offers 6 field-based rankings and 14 subject-based rankings. NTU is committed to continually update and release new annual overall, field, and subject rankings in the future.

img6794_4581l

UH to develop new wireless communications systems to serve remote areas

Advanced communications technology could bring broadband wireless service to remote and rural areas in the Hawaiian Islands, under a new research grant funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Hawai‘i Center for Advanced Communications at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s College of Engineering received $500,000 to pursue an innovative solution based on improving the efficiency of radio spectrum utilization.

And we’re not just talking about wireless for folks living off the grid in Hāna. Across the United States, more than 19 million people, or 6 percent of the population, do not have access to reliable broadband communications coverage. Availability of such coverage is essential to education, jobs, health care and economic development, yet many people living in rural or otherwise inaccessible areas have only low-speed dial-up access or no data service at all.

Rough terrain and large undeveloped areas often present challenges to the implementation of cost-effective and reliable broadband wireless service.

HCAC is proposing a new solution based on the use of smart networking with high-performance directional antennas, propagation modeling applications, and spectrum-sensing resources.

“New network access protocols need to be developed, so that these advances may be achieved without affecting available communications standards and systems,” said Magdy F. Iskander, Director of the Hawai‘i Center for Advanced Communications. “Our solution represents a bold new concept for integrating these new capabilities to support customers in low-density regions.”

The program director for the NSF Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems division who recommended the grant described the HCAC proposal as “an excellent proposal which will make a major impact on wireless communications for rural areas . . . [It] will have a transformative impact on rural communities.”

The new NSF funding will support three years of research and development activity, during which time Iskander and the HCAC team will develop a prototype of their new broadband technology and test it in rural areas in Hawai‘i.

About the Hawaii Center for Advanced Communications (HCAC): http://hcac.hawaii.edu/
The Hawaii Center for Advanced Communications at the College of Engineering, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa is a multidisciplinary, autonomous research center in broadband wireless telecommunications and advanced radar technologies with joint research and educational activities that promote national and international collaboration and partnership with industry in support of economic development in Hawaii.

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.

UH Mānoa librarian Patricia Ann Polansky poses with her Medal of Pushkin from the Russian government.

From Russia, with honor

UH Mānoa librarian Patricia Ann Polansky poses with her Medal of Pushkin from the Russian government.
UH Mānoa librarian Patricia Ann Polansky poses with her Medal of Pushkin from the Russian government.
Patricia Ann Polansky, a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa librarian, was bestowed with a rare honor for an American last Friday, November 11: She was presented with the Medal of Pushkin from the government of Russia during a presentation ceremony at Hamilton Library.

The Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov presented the medal to Polansky. Also in attendance was His Excellency, Ambassador of Russia, Sergey I. Kislyak.

Polansky has served as Russian bibliographer for the Northeast Asia Collection housed at Hamilton Library since 1970. From 1988-92, she also served as director of the Center for Russia in Asia in the School of Pacific and Asian Studies.

The Medal of Pushkin is awarded by the government of Russia for achievements in the fields of culture, education, human sciences, literature and art. It recognizes great contribution to the study and preservation of the cultural heritage of that country or for the promotion of cultural exchange. Of the 650 previous Medal of Pushkin recipients from 70 countries, only one U.S. citizen is a past awardee (in 2007).

Top photo: The Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov presents the Medal of Pushkin and roses to UH Mānoa Russian bibliographer Patricia Ann Polansky, who works at Hamilton Library. Seated behind them is Alan Grosenheider, Associate University Librarian. (Photos courtesy of Debra Okuno)