Category Archives: Story of the Week

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.

Brom GDN 00002854

Science-fiction thriller comes alive in Manoa

A newly published novel by the late best-selling writer and filmmaker Michael Crichton titled Micro was inspired in large part by his visit to the lush forests of UH Mānoa’s Harold L. Lyon Arboretum.

The author-screenwriter of Jurassic Park and other blockbusters visited the Arboretum in May 2008 with his wife, Sherri, to get acquainted with the vast and varied landscape of the nation’s only university botanical garden located in a tropical rainforest. He died later that year while still working on Micro.

“Some of the Arboretum’s history and gardens, including the bromeliad garden, are depicted very well,” said Christopher Dunn, director of the Lyon Arboretum. “Several chapters focus on action and suspense in the arboretum. Great stuff! I’m delighted with it!”

This isn’t the first time that Lyon Arboretum’s tropical setting has inspired creative minds. It was also filmed in the movies Jurassic Park III and Tears of the Sun – and it’s been a setting for television’s Hawaii Five-0.

According to former staff Alice Katajima, Crichton was a quiet man, but asked a multitude of questions, particularly of the bromeliad garden and talipot palm.  Katajima gave the first-time visitors, the Crichtons, something to take home with them as a memento: a bag of jaboticaba (Brazilian grapes). “They also picked some skeletonized leaves from underneath the bodi tree,” she said.

Just like his other science-fiction books and true to Crichton fashion, Micro pits nature against technology. Based in Honolulu, the Lyon Arboretum is portrayed as the “Waipaka” Arboretum. Staff who took Crichton and his wife on a tour of the arboretum are depicted as characters in the book, including Katajima (as Alyson Bender) and Raymond Baker (as Vin Drake), who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the grounds and was an employee for 38-years before he passed in 2010.

The overview on Crichton’s official website states that Micro is about groundbreaking technology that has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Graduate students from Cambridge, Massachusetts are sent to the arboretum where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier. Once they arrive, they are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn, and find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power.

Crichton’s fascination with the Lyon Arboretum has obviously made a lasting impression. The book was completed by science writer Richard Preston after Crichton passed away to cancer in November 2008.

For more information about the Micro, visit www.michaelcrichton.com/books-micro.html.

As a branch of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the arboretum serves as a center for educational activities on plants, arts, culture, geography and a range of other sciences. Approximately 34,000 visitors each year participate in classes, research projects other community activities or enjoy the beautiful plant and displays on the 200-acre grounds. The Arboretum is responsible for developing a major resource center for tropical plants with Hawaii-, Pacific Basin-, and Asian-focus, by enhancing its living plant collection and establishing an appropriate reference library and herbarium. For more information about the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, visit www.hawaii.edu/lyonarboetum.

Top photo: The Bromeliad Garden at UH Mānoa’s Harold L. Lyon Arboretum is depicted in Crichton’s posthumously published book, Micro.

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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.

LIFE project founder Sabina Swift (right) seen here with a coffee farmer on the Big Island. (Photo courtesy of Jari Sugano)

The Staff of LIFE

On-farm interaction is key to the program’s success. (Photo courtesy of Jari Sugano)

By Frederika Bain

Could you grow a papala? A pipicha? A bitter ball? Maybe not, but you might be able to find one in your local farmers market, thanks to a growing population of immigrant farmers bringing the techniques and products of their native lands to Hawai‘i. But while there’s much that these growers know, there are aspects of starting to farm in a different country, climate and economy that can be confusing and even daunting.

This is where LIFE comes in. The Local Immigrant Farmer Education Program, out of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, serves Southeast Asian farmers in Hawai‘i whose small acreage, remote locations and limited English language skills may make it difficult for them to connect with local growers. LIFE also serves other socially disadvantaged, limited-resource producers, including women and Native Hawaiians. The program is headed by extension agent Jari Sugano; she and Randall Hamasaki, Maria Diaz-Lyke, Robin Shimabuku and Glenn Sako are the training members of the group. Recently retired agent Steve Fukuda helped to make the program what it is today; project founder Sabina Swift stays involved, as does Stuart Nakamoto. And, in 2010, Ming Yi-Chou and Elsie Burbano joined the team.

The hands-on aspect of the program is one that farmers appreciate the most. Trainers and growers get out into the fields and prune, spray and build. At a recent “field day” event, participants were able to take part in building aquaculture grow tanks, while other workshops have shown how to deal with small business taxes, ways to combat insecticide resistance, and the proper care and handling of papayas for shipping to the Mainland. Many of the program’s materials and workshops are translated into the languages of their intended readers, something that has been lacking in previous training programs.

At LIFE’s core is the one-on-one interaction provided by the “Farm Doctor” visits, where an agent meets with individual farmers on their land to “diagnose” any problems with the crops or soil. It’s the interaction, the mutual teaching and learning, that’s important. Clients can participate in the program by conducting “Cooperator-Inspired Field Trials” to investigate planting or agribusiness techniques and share their findings with LIFE, while program coordinators act as resources and aid in collecting and summarizing the data. And one of the program’s stated measures of its own success is the number of participants who are able to start helping others in their community. What better way to reap the bounty of what different cultures can bring to the table?

For more stories on the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, visit http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/Impacts.aspx.

Top photo: LIFE project founder Sabina Swift (at right) with a coffee farmer on the Big Island. (Photo courtesy of Jari Sugano)

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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.

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)

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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.”