Category Archives: Story of the Week

mars

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

LINK TO VIDEO AND INTERVIEWS: http://bit.ly/1F1bcAU

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 http://hi-seas.org/ or on Twitter (@HI_SEAS) or Facebook.

VIDEO AND SOUNDBITE LINK: http://bit.ly/1F1bcAU

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)

SOUNDBITES:

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: http://bit.ly/1w7fKSj

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)
Jellyfish

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): http://bit.ly/ZYsSNS

BROLL (45 seconds followed by soundbites):

  • Video of jellyfish being eaten by ocean scavengers

SOUNDBITES:
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.”

http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.2210

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.

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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.

candles

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.

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.

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.

PTS-military-flag1-e1326320765745-450x300

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