Category Archives: Story of the Week

Military veteran earning his Botany PhD is honored with research fellowship

UH Mānoa graduate student Gerald Cobian is one of 11 military veterans with research fellowships in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields honored at a research symposium and ceremony at the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) last week.

Cobian is a second-year PhD student in Botany, working in a College of Natural Sciences laboratory led by Assistant Professor Anthony Amend.  His dissertation research is focused on the community dynamics of foliar endophytic fungi — unique microorganisms that live inside the leaves of Hawai‘i’s native plants.

Cobian was selected from among 85 veterans nationwide who are currently supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

About the NSF “Saluting Veterans in STEM” symposium, Cobian commented, “It was a really diverse group of veterans, representing all different branches — Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy — as well as all different types of research.” Other veterans presented on topics from prosthesis development to micro-robotics to biofuels.

“It’s important for people to recognize that there are veterans doing this type of work,” Cobian added.

A native of Northern California, Cobian served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2000 to 2004 as an Infantry Machine Gunner, stationed at Twentynine Palms, California.  He did two tours of combat duty in Iraq, once with 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, one of the first units into Baghdad. His second tour of duty was with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines in 2004, where his group occupied a forward observation base on the Iraq-Syria border.

“Initially I never even planned on going to college,” said Cobian, who worked in construction in Southern California after he finished his military service. The GI Bill made it possible for him to go back to school, first considering a degree in economics before switching to biology after a particularly positive classroom experience at Butte Community College in Oroville, California.

Cobian ultimately earned his undergraduate degree in Genetics and Plant Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, working in the Tom Bruns Lab under Nhu Nguyen.

“Gerry has a deep knowledge and love of fungal natural history — really an infectious enthusiasm, which gives him an edge in his research. It also makes him a lot of fun to have around,” said Cobian’s graduate advisor, Dr. Amend.  “He’s able to leverage that specialized knowledge to learn more about one of the most pervasive symbioses in nature. Gerry’s work will have a huge impact on our understanding of the ecology and evolution of plant interactions with Hawaiian environments.”

The fungi inside the plant leaves has been shown to help protect the plants against heat and drought stress, and from being eaten by insects and other animals.

“On the Big Island, I’m looking at how the plant and fungi communities are different across an elevation gradient,” Cobian said. “I’m also looking at different species within the same site.”

Cobian has just finished a pilot study and plans to primarily work with plants growing in kipukas separated by lava flows on Mauna Loa.

“If I hadn’t been in the military, then I probably wouldn’t have gone to school, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am now,” Cobian said.  “The military opened up these opportunities for me.”

Learn more about the resources available to veterans enrolled at UH Mānoa through the Office of Veterans Support Services:

Films by Academy for Creative Media students will be showcased

UH Mānoa Academy for Creative Media (ACM) student short films, Shanghai University student shorts, and three SMART Exchange co-production films will screen together at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival (HIFF) in the ACM and Shanghai University Night Program at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 6, at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium theaters.

This is the 11th year that HIFF has showcased student films produced at ACM, which is located on the UH Mānoa campus.

Four of the ACM student films showing at HIFF have been nominated for the prestigious 2014 EuroCinema Hawai’i (ECH) Award for Best Student Film, sponsored by the Sunny Dupree Family Foundation.  EuroCinema Hawai`i is a celebrated “festival within a festival” of HIFF.  This year, there are five nominated films: CADENCE directed by Nicholas Bresnan from Kaiser High School, and four nominated ACM student films: DAYPASS directed by Erin Lau, N. KING directed by Kali Kasashima, WINTER FOR THE MAY QUEEN directed by Paisley Mares, and BICYCLE directed by Jake Nowicki.

Winner of the award will be determined by a distinguished panel of jurors: the Golden Globes’ Aida Takla-O’Reilly, Editor and Composer John Ottman, and Producer Julie Corman.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, November 8, at the black-tie Eurocinema Awards Gala in Waikīkī.

The awarded filmmaker, along with the school program where the film was made, will both receive $1,000.  ACM will also benefit from a $3,000 scholarship for new productions.

This is the fifth year ECH has offered a cash prize to the “Best Student Film.”  The previous award winners include ACM films as well as ACM/Shanghai University co-production films produced in the SMART Exchange program.  The 2013 winner was LITTLE GIRL’S WAR CRY directed by ACM  student Erin Lau.

For more information, visit:

PacIOOS wave buoys serving communities across the Pacific

The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) deployed a new wave buoy in the waters off Aunu’u, American Samoa, on October 23, 2014. The bright yellow buoy is located more than three miles offshore and streams data on ocean and wave conditions. The buoy joins the existing PacIOOS network of 13 real-time wave buoys across the Pacific, providing data on wave height, direction, period, and sea surface temperature. PacIOOS also redeployed wave buoys in Hilo Bay, Hawai‘i, and Kaumalapau Harbor, Lāna‘i, after they cut loose a few months ago.

Ocean users — including fishermen, commercial operators, surfers, paddlers and swimmers — can access ocean data online to make well-informed and safe decisions. Real-time wave data are also vital to prepare the community, emergency responders and county officials for big wave events that could potentially impact shorelines.

“PacIOOS serves real-time wave data from Hawai‘i, the Mariana and Marshall Islands, as well as American Samoa,” says Melissa Iwamoto, Deputy Director of PacIOOS. “The new wave buoy in American Samoa will complement our network in the Pacific and will greatly support the decision-making of various agencies across the Pacific, including the National Weather Service and the National Oceanographic Data Center.”

The locations of the buoys are included on navigational charts. To keep the buoys and their sensors operational, ocean users are asked not to tie to the buoys and stay clear to avoid entanglement in the mooring lines.

Data streaming for the PacIOOS wave buoys is made possible through long-term partnerships between PacIOOS, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Coastal Data Information Program.

On the Web

To view real-time data, select a wave buoy:

To learn more about PacIOOS:

About PacIOOS

The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) believes that ocean data and information can help save lives and resources. In collaboration with its partners, PacIOOS aims to provide sustained ocean observations in order to support decision-making and science for stakeholders who call the Pacific Islands home. Based within the School for Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, PacIOOS is the part of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

BOFFFFs [Big, Old, Fat, Fertile, Female Fish] sustain fisheries

Recreational fishermen prize large trophy fish.  Commercial fishing gear targets big fish.  After all, larger fish feed people’s egos as well as their bellies.

A new compilation of research from around the world now shows that big, old, fat, fertile, female fish – known as BOFFFFs to scientists – are essential for ensuring that fishery stocks remain sustainable.

“Information on many different kinds of freshwater and marine fish tell the same story,” says lead author Dr. Mark Hixon of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  “The loss of big fish decreases the productivity and stability of fishery stocks.”  This loss, known as “size and age truncation,” typically occurs in all fisheries.

Methods of saving big fish include slot limits, where regulations allow only the capture of medium-sized fish, as well as marine reserves, where some fish are allowed to spawn over their entire life spans.

There are multiple ways BOFFFFs benefit fish populations.

First, larger females produce far more eggs than smaller fish.  For example, in Hawai‘i, a 27-inch bluefish trevally or ‘ōmilu produces 84 times more eggs than a 12-inch fish.

Second, co-author Dr. Susan Sogard of the National Marine Fisheries Service reports that “larger fish can produce better quality eggs that hatch into young that grow and survive better than young from smaller females.”

Third, “BOFFFFs often spawn at different times and places than younger females, which increases the odds that some young will find favorable environments in an unpredictable ocean,” adds co-author Dr. Darren Johnson of California State University at Long Beach.

Finally, old fish can outlive periods that are unfavorable for reproduction, providing a “storage effect” where BOFFFFs are ready to spawn successfully when the time is right.

“Increasingly, fisheries managers are realizing that saving some big old fish is essential to ensure that fished populations are stable and sustainable,” says Hixon.

These results were published in a special issue of the ICES Journal of Marine Science dedicated to the memory of Johan Hjort, a Norwegian fisheries scientist who published a landmark treatise of fish population changes in 1914.

(Full caption)  A big (1.1 m), old (ca.100 years), fat (27.2 kg), fertile female fish, in this case a shortraker rockfish (Sebastes borealis) taken off Alaska (Karna McKinney, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries).

For more information, visit:

UH Law School again tops overall average in latest bar exam results

Recent UH Law School graduates have outscored others taking the two latest State Bar Exams – the July 2014 exam and the February 2014 exam, according to newly released results.

While 63 percent of all test takers passed the July Bar Exam, 69 percent of UH Law first-time takers passed, with 66 percent of all UH takers passing.

Meanwhile, the February Bar Exam results showed remarkable success for those graduating from the UH Law School’s Evening Part-Time Program, with 89 percent of first-time takers from that program passing the February 2014 test.

In other results from the February test, 71 percent of all UH first-time test takers passed the exam, 62 percent of UH takers passed, and 60 percent of all takers passed.

“We are especially gratified with these results, which show how exceptional our Evening Part-Time Program students are, especially considering they spend long days at work or caring for family, and then come to Law School for classes that sometimes last late into the evening,” said Law Dean Avi Soifer.

“We attract professionals and non-traditional students from all walks of life.  They are people who may have longed to attend law school in Hawaiʻi while working and caring for their families and, until this program came along, who never had the chance to pursue their dream.”

The William S. Richardson Law School’s Evening Part-Time Program – just six years old – is designed for mid-career professionals, and is tailored to meet the needs of those who may find it difficult to attend law school full time during the day. Evening Part-Time Program students usually graduate in four years from law school rather than the usual three years.

Associate Faculty Specialist Liam Skilling ’07 is director of both the Evening Part-Time Program and the Academic Success Program.

“The students of the Evening Part-Time Program come from incredibly diverse personal and professional backgrounds,” Skilling noted. “They are teachers, scientists, social workers, engineers and entrepreneurs. What they share is a determination to pursue their goals in the face of significant obstacles. This characteristic serves them when studying for the Bar Exam, and it will serve them in their legal careers.”

The higher bar success rate of UH Law graduates was also the case last year. For the July 2013 Hawai‘i Bar Exam, 73 percent of all test takers passed, while 83 percent of UH first-time test takers passed, and 78 percent of all UH Law test takers passed.

UH’s Richardson Law School is one of the most diverse and most affordable law schools in the country.  It welcomes an array of students from Hawai‘i, the continental U.S. and from around the world.

In recent rankings, UH Law School was named:

  • Best Environment for minority students, third most diverse faculty, and fifth most chosen by older students by The Princeton Review.
  • Fifth least expensive of top law schools, one of the top 10 law schools where graduates have the least debt, the 26th best Evening Part-Time Program, and the 100th best law school by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Third best law school for state and local clerkships, sixth best law school for clinics, 12th top law school for externships, among the 20 most innovative law schools, and one of the top among 60 best value law schools byThe National Jurist/preLaw Magazine.

Richardson School of Law recently celebrated its 40th Anniversary.  Shortly after the Law School opened in 1973 – housed in temporary buildings, and with just 53 students in its inaugural class – unforeseen opportunities quickly opened up.

Today over 2,200 members of the Hawai‘i State Bar Association are Richardson graduates; 3,325 students have received Juris Doctor degrees from UH.  Eighty percent of its graduates stay in Hawaiʻi to work in law, business, government and the non-profit sectors.

And the Law School has an unusually strong track record in seeing its students find employment within a few months of graduation.  Of the 2013 graduating class, for example, 87.5 percent of the respondents reported being employed or pursuing advanced degrees within nine months of graduation.

Added Dean Soifer, “We are proud to attract outstanding students who come to Richardson because of our ethic of accessibility, first-rate teaching, and a unique spirit of ‘ohana. Our students are already high achievers, and the legal education they get here opens greater opportunities for them as well as creating a supportive network of friends for life.”

The Law School began accepting applications on October 1, 2014, for the class entering Fall 2015. Priority deadline for applications is February 1, 2015. Additional information is available on the Law School website at:

Shidler College of Business namesake increases his gift to $100 million

Jay H. Shidler, Class of ’68, commits another $69 million donation to support the future of the Shidler College of Business

The University of Hawai‘i and the University of Hawai‘i Foundation (“Foundation”) today announced Jay H. Shidler — investor, philanthropist and UH alumnus — has made an irrevocable commitment to increase his visionary gift to the Shidler College of Business to a total of $100 million.

The Shidler College of Business was named after Shidler when he donated $25 million to the College in 2006, later quietly adding another $6 million. At the time, it was the largest single donation to the Foundation for the benefit of UH.

Shidler is committing to donate over his lifetime and through his estate an additional $69 million for the benefit of the College.

In addition to gifts of cash and marketable securities, Shidler will be contributing interests in income generated by land underlying a number of significant office buildings in the central business districts of major mainland cities. This specific type of interest in land leased to the building owner under a long-term ground lease is referred to as a “Leased Fee.” In addition to the donation of income interests in various Leased Fees, Shidler is contributing a 100 percent ownership interest on a Leased Fee underlying a Denver commercial office building. It is anticipated that, over time, the Foundation will receive a portion of the ownership interests in other Leased Fees that currently provide an income interest. With these gifts, the College benefits from the receipt of escalating ground rent payments over a period of between 65 and 99 years.

Like Kamehameha Schools, which generates significant income from Leased Fees under homes and commercial buildings, the Shidler College of Business will now have an increasing source of predictable cash flow from which to meet long-term financial needs.

UH President David Lassner said Shidler’s latest gift commitment is now the largest to any UH institution by a single donor and brings Shidler’s total philanthropy to UH to $100 million.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mr. Shidler for his continuing support of the University of Hawai‘i and the college that bears his name,” Lassner said. “This latest gift will benefit Hawai‘i residents and businesses for generations. It will have a lasting impact on the Shidler College of Business, the University of Hawai‘i and the State of Hawai‘i.”

Vance Roley, dean of the Shidler College of Business, said Shidler’s donation will solidify the College as one of the best business schools in the country.

“This generous, reputation-building gift will enable us to continue to attract top talent, both students and faculty, while improving our graduate and undergraduate business programs,” Roley said. “This donation is another example of Mr. Shidler’s long-term commitment to the College. It will be used to support the creation of additional scholarships and professorship endowments, and build on the significant progress the College has made as a result of Mr. Shidler’s original gift.”

Shidler said he was encouraged by the College’s achievements since his first gift and wanted to ensure that progress continued.

“I’m proud of what the College has been able to achieve over the past eight years in elevating its programs and securing its place among the top-ranked business schools,” Shidler said. “I know firsthand the impact the College has on emerging business men and women, and I am committed to do what I can so that Hawai‘i continues to have a strong business school that will allow future generations of leaders to excel.”

As part of the new $69 million gift commitment, Shidler has begun transferring to the Foundation direct ownership interests in the Leased Fee underlying an office building in Denver, and income interests in Leased Fees underlying office buildings in Chicago, Charlotte, Columbus and Nashville. Shidler also owns the Leased Fees under office buildings in Midtown Manhattan and other U.S. cities, which may become part of the gift.

UH Foundation President and CEO Donna Vuchinich said these kinds of management-free, long-term Leased Fee assets are an ideal form of income to be used to build an endowment and will provide secure and predictable income for the Shidler College for many decades to come.

“The ownership of Leased Fees has greatly benefited a special group of educational institutions and their foundations across the country,” Vuchinich said. “In Hawai‘i, the best-known example is Kamehameha Schools, which derives its multibillion-dollar endowment primarily from the ownership of Leased Fee interests. On the mainland, universities benefiting from ownership of Leased Fees include Columbia University’s historical ownership of land under Rockefeller Center, Cooper Union’s ownership of the land under the Chrysler Building, Stanford University’s land under various commercial complexes in Palo Alto, and University of Washington’s land under numerous office buildings in downtown Seattle.”

“The management-free, highly secure, fixed-income nature of Leased Fee interests has caused them to be called ‘the U.S. Treasuries of commercial real estate,’” said Randy Moore, Chairman of the UH Board of Regents. “A portfolio of these Leased Fees and their income streams is an excellent way to secure the long-term financial health of the University.”

Shidler said he hopes this Leased Fee-based endowment model will be used by future UH donors to supportand improve other UH schools, colleges and programs.

“This is a way to provide the Foundation with a portfolio of Leased Fee interests that will ultimately create steady investment income for the remainder of the 21st century,” he said.

Shidler, an alumnus of the College (BBA ’68), is the founder of Honolulu-based The Shidler Group, which over the past 40 years has acquired and owned over 2,000 commercial properties in 40 states and Canada. Shidler has founded and been the initial investor in over 20 public and private companies, five of which have been listed on the NYSE. Shidler served as a board member of the Foundation from 1994 to 1997.

For more information on The Visionary Gift including a video, please visit


(full caption)

From left, Dean Vance Roley, UH Foundation President and CEO Donna Vuchinich, Jay Shidler and UH President David Lassner.

To find out how you can support the Shidler College of Business, please contact Unyong Nakata,
Senior Director of Development, at or (808) 956-3597.

Shidler College of Business BROLL (1 minutes, 28 seconds) link:

  • Exteriors of college (2 shots)
  • Shidler signs (2 shots)
  • Shidler courtyard (2 shots)
  • Students in hallway (1 shot)
  • Students in class  (9 shots)

Researchers embark on longest space simulation on U.S. soil


Six astronaut-like crew members have embarked on the longest dedicated space travel simulation ever conducted on U.S. soil.

On the evening of Wednesday, October 15, 2014, Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) team members closed the door to their faux Mars habitat and shut out the rest of life on Earth.  In so doing, they stepped into uncharted territory—beginning an eight-month investigation into the human factors that contribute to astronaut crew function and performance over time.

Although numerous space analog studies have been conducted over the years, this is the longest U.S. study to-date. Worldwide, only the Mars500 study in Russia during 2010-2011 surpasses this one in total duration.

The current study led by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is the second in a three-part series funded by the NASA Human Research Program.

“We need to know more about how the mind works, how individuals contribute to a team, and how that team dynamic changes over time in order to anticipate how astronauts will react during long-duration space travel,” said UH Mānoa Associate Professor Kim Binsted, principal investigator for the program.  “It’s essential that we understand these factors before we start assembling a team for a manned mission to Mars.”

NASA has stated that a manned mission to Mars is possible by the 2030s. Recently certain private and nonprofit organizations have stepped up to try to accelerate this schedule. For example, Mars One, a nonprofit based in the Netherlands, has put forward conceptual plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2025.

For their part, the six crew members of the current HI-SEAS study spent their last day on Earth packing their bags, enjoying local Hawaiian foods like loco moco and kalua pork, and making phone calls to their friends and loved ones. Certain participants took advantage of their last free morning to book a helicopter sightseeing tour over the active Big Island lava flows.

Their view will be much more limited over the next eight months. The HI-SEAS habitat site at about 8,000 feet on Mauna Loa has just one small porthole window looking out toward Maunakea.  Simulated space walks or “extravehicular activities” (EVAs) will provide crew members with a chance to experience the outdoors, but only while wearing bulky simulated space suits. Email communications with the outside world will be subject to a 40-minute delay to simulate how long it takes for a message to get from Earth to Mars and vice versa.

As the crew members (read crew bios here) go about their daily activities inside the HI-SEAS habitat, UH Mānoa researchers and their collaborators will be studying the team’s cohesion over time, gathering data on a wide range of cognitive, social and emotional factors that may impact performance. The crew members will be continuously monitored using biometric trackers, electronic surveys, and other surveillance methods.

Collaborating institutions include UH Mānoa, Cornell University, PISCES (Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems), Michigan State University, Blue Planet Foundation, SIFT (Smart Information Flow Technologies), and the Institutes for Behavioral Resources Inc. In addition, high school students at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy have provided support for instrumentation at the HI-SEAS habitat site, including both communications infrastructure and energy efficiency monitoring support.

The public is invited to follow along with videos, researcher blogs, and photos featured at or on Twitter (@HI_SEAS) or Facebook.


BROLL (1 minutes, 20 seconds):

  • Wide shot of Mauna Loa and terrain (2 shots)
  • Exterior shots of habitat (2 shots)
  • Crew unloading supplies and carrying into habitat (5 shots)
  • Crew posing for picture in front of habitat (1 shot)
  • Entering habitat (2 shots)


Kim Binsted – HI-SEAS Principal Investigator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Associate Professor (7 seconds)
“Well, of course we keep a really close watch on it and 24 hours before it is due to hit we make a call on whether or not to evacuate the crew.”

Jocelyn Dunn – HI-SEAS crew member (14 seconds)
“Well, I think it is important to advance science and technology and to continue exploring, and to one day not have to rely not only on earth and to have more places for humans to live and thrive and keep continuing.”

Zak Wilson – HI-SEAS crewmember (11 seconds)
“I would love to be one of the first people to go to Mars. So that sort of my personal reason for doing this is that maybe this is as close as I ever get, but maybe it’s just another step on my path to Mars.”

File video of the habitat and first two HI-SEAS missions:

BROLL (2 minutes, 5 seconds):

  • Space suit walk from the 1st mission (1 shot)
  • Exteriors of habitat (6 shots)
  • Porthole view from habitat (1 shot)
  • Crew from first mission in habitat (3 shots)
  • Space suit walk (1 shot)
  • Digital printer in habitat (2 shots)
  • Plants in habitat (2 shots)
  • Mission two crew exiting habitat (5 shots)

New study shows the importance of jellyfish to deep-sea ecosystem

This week, researchers from the University of Hawai‘i, Norway and the UK have shown with innovative experiments that a rise in jellyfish blooms near the ocean’s surface may lead to jellyfish falls that are rapidly consumed by voracious deep-sea scavengers. Previous anecdotal studies suggested that deep-sea animals might avoid dead jellyfish, causing dead jellyfish from blooms to accumulate and undergo slow degradation by microbes, depleting oxygen at the seafloor and depriving fish and invertebrate scavengers, including commercially exploited species, of food.

Globally there are huge numbers of jellyfish in the oceans. In some parts of the ocean, jellyfish “blooms” are increasing apparently due to nutrient enrichment and climate change caused by human activities.  In recent years, studies have suggested that when jellyfish blooms die-off, massive quantities of jellyfish sink out of surface waters and can deposit as “jelly-lakes” at the seafloor, choking seafloor habitats of oxygen and reducing biodiversity.  This latest research shows that the accumulation of dead jellyfish lakes may be unusual, with jellyfish carcasses normally being rapidly consumed by a host of typical deep-sea scavengers such as hagfish and crabs.

Said lead author Andrew K. Sweetman, “We just had a hunch that dead jellyfish were important to deep-sea ecosystems in some way, even though they are made up largely of water. We therefore decided to film what the fate of jellyfish carcasses were at the seafloor so we deployed deep-sea lander systems with jellyfish bait. When we later retrieved the landers and found no jellyfish attached to the bait plates we were pleasantly surprised.  However, our surprise jumped to another level when we looked at the camera images and saw just how fast the jellyfish baits were consumed and the shear number of scavengers that were consuming the baits.  It just blew our minds.”  Sweetman is a chief senior scientist and research coordinator for deep-sea ecosystem research at the International Research Institute of Stavanger in Norway.

Published October 15 in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, the research looked at the response by scavengers to jellyfish and fish baits in the deep-sea along the Norwegian margin.  The researchers found that jellyfish and fish baits were consumed equally fast and attracted similar densities of a diversity of scavengers.

“The speed of the jellyfish scavenging was totally unexpected because earlier, previous observations seemed to suggest that jellyfish carcasses would just rot very slowly at the seafloor. It was also really interesting that the hagfish targeted the most energy-rich parts of the jellyfish, burrowing into the jellyfish carcasses to eat the gonads,” said Craig R. Smith, co-author, designer of the deep-see camera-lander systems used in the study, and a Professor of Oceanography and Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

The study further revealed that the role of jellyfish material could be seriously underestimated in global carbon budgets in the ocean, because jellyfish were removed so quickly that they fail to accumulate at the seafloor, causing scientist to overlook their role in deep-sea food webs.

Said co-author Daniel Jones, a scientist at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton UK, “Our work shows that previous assessments of the ocean carbon cycle may have missed an important component. Until we saw these photos we thought that the massive amount of jellyfish material was deposited on the seafloor and was essentially taken out of the system – removing carbon rapidly. Our results show that much of this carbon could, in fact, make it into deep-sea food webs, fueling these systems. This is especially important when other food sources to deep-sea ecosystems may be decreasing as our oceans warm.”

Ultimately, this new research reveals that jellyfish blooms could provide far-reaching, potentially important, food supplements to normal deep-sea food webs, rather than having purely negative

Sweetman AK, Smith CR, Dale T, Jones DOB. 2014. Rapid scavenging of jellyfish carcasses reveals the importance of gelatinous material to deep-sea food webs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20142210.

Link to video and interview (more information below):

BROLL (45 seconds followed by soundbites):

  • Video of jellyfish being eaten by ocean scavengers

Craig Smith – Oceanography professor, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (11 seconds)
“And this is real, actually quite important. As the climate warms, as humans change the climate of the earth, and as they put nutrients in the ocean, there’s an increase in the abundance of jellyfish.”

Smith (14 seconds)
“It may mean that these changes that are occurring in the ocean where jellyfish are becoming more abundant are not as significant, not as bad as we thought they might be. The ocean may be more able to adjust to these changes than we expected.”

Smith (13 seconds)
“We’ve only been able to do these experiments in one location. The scavengers that come are typical of the deep sea but it would be nice to replicate or repeat these experiments in other parts of the ocean to show that the scavenging processes are similar.”

The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa was established by the Board of Regents of the University of Hawai‘i in 1988 in recognition of the need to realign and further strengthen the excellent education and research resources available within the University. SOEST brings together four academic departments, three research institutes, several federal cooperative programs, and support facilities of the highest quality in the nation to meet challenges in the ocean, earth and planetary sciences and technologies.

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):
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.

In remembrance and tribute

Akihisa Inoue of Tohoku University and Virginia Hinshaw of UH Mānoa show the signed joint statement at the Forum for International Research Collaboration during the one-year memorial of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster in Sendai.
Akihisa Inoue of Tohoku University and Virginia Hinshaw of UH Mānoa show the signed joint statement at the Forum for International Research Collaboration during the one-year memorial of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster in Sendai.

A weekend of remembrance for Japan tsunami victims also marked the start of an international partnership aimed at averting future tragedies.

The one-year anniversary of the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster was commemorated in Sendai, Japan, during a March 10, 2012 event attended by University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw, representing the UH system and the people of Hawai‘i.  UH Mānoa was joined at the Tohoku University event by two other U.S. invitees, Harvard and UCLA.

On Sunday morning, March 11, Chancellor Hinshaw attended the Forum for International Research Collaboration event at the Hotel Metropolitan Sendai.  At the forum’s conclusion, attendees signed a Joint Statement that encourages collaboration on behalf of academia around the world in identifying issues and developing science and technology to mitigate disasters and build a resilient world.

Accompanying Chancellor Hinshaw from UH Mānoa were husband Bill Hinshaw and Dean of the College of Social Sciences Denise Konan.  Also invited were representatives of Japan universities including Tohoku, Nagoya, Kyoto, Fukushima, Tokyo, Niigata and Kobe.  Other international entities that participated were the German Aerospace Center (Germany), Tsinghua University (China), University of Florence (Italy), University College London (United Kingdom), and Istanbul Technical University (Turkey).

Also that Sunday afternoon, a one-year memorial service was held at Sendai Trust City in honor of those who perished in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster.  Chancellor Hinshaw characterizes the day’s experiences as tremendously moving, including an impromptu ceremony at Sendai Airport as the Hinshaws were departing Japan.  “There was a concert about recovery followed by several minutes of total silence to honor those who had lost their lives,” she recalls. “Everyone stood in place, in line, stopped everything and took those few moments of silence to remember—it was very touching.  And, believe me, there was not a sound.”

Participants in the Forum for International Research Collaboration take a group photo at the Hotel Metropolitan Sendai.
Participants in the Forum for International Research Collaboration take a group photo at the Hotel Metropolitan Sendai.

Top photo: Commemorative candles are set up on a sidewalk in Sendai.