Category Archives: Story of the Week

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)

New Image

Mahalo to OHA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

Dame_437

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.”

2011-ct-maunakea

Mauna Kea, IfA played a role in Nobel physics prize

Louise Good, Institute for Astronomy publications editor

John Tonry headshot

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Astronomer John Tonry, a camera designed and built at the Institute for Astronomy and an observatory on Mauna Kea all played a role in the work awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics this month.

Tonry was a member of one of the two large groups of astronomers whose leaders received the prize for discovering that the Universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate and will therefore last forever.

The discovery, first announced in 1998, grew out of scientists’ efforts to compare how fast the Universe is expanding now compared with its expansion billions of years ago. They expected to find that the expansion was slowing down, suggesting the possibility that the Universe would eventually stop expanding and then collapse in a “big crunch.”

To study the problem, astronomers searched for exploding stars called type 1a supernovae in very distant galaxies, which could be used to measure how far away other galaxies are.

In 1996, when the project began, the most sensitive system for doing this kind of research was a giant digital camera designed and built at IfA and mounted on the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope. The telescope had superb optics and was located on Mauna Kea, where the skies are uniquely clear and dark, an improvement over conditions in Chile, where the work had begun.

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope against pink-tinged sky

Tonry spent his nights observing on the telescope and his days analyzing the data. There was no time to waste because supernovae explode brightly and fade fast. He needed to relay the locations of such explosions quickly so other members of his team could observe them using a spectrometer mounted on one of the two 10-meter-diameter telescopes of the neighboring W. M. Keck Observatory. Their job was to measure the speed at which the galaxies were moving away from us as well as to confirm the nature of the exploding stars.

Because these faint, distant galaxies are so far away, their light must travel for billions of years to reach Earth, thus providing a glimpse of our Universe at a time when it was much younger than it is now.

What they discovered was considered surprising, even shocking: the distant galaxies were moving apart from each other more slowly than were the nearby galaxies. In other words, the Universe must be expanding faster now than it did in the past.

Team members were amazed. Their reaction was: “It couldn’t be. We had better recheck our calculations.” But it was, and it has since been confirmed by other observations.

What could cause the expansion to speed up? It couldn’t be gravity because gravity always pulls things together. It had to be a new kind of pressure, since named “dark energy.”

Interestingly, when Albert Einstein formulated his theory of general relativity in 1915, one of his equations hinted at the existence of such a pressure, but it took nearly 100 years for its significance to be realized.

What is dark energy? No one knows. But UH scientists are involved in the search for the answer—both through particle physics experiments at giant collider laboratories abroad, and ongoing observations at large telescopes like as those on Mauna Kea.

A similar version of this article was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Oct. 16, 2011, and on the IfA website.

2011-ct-rain3

Who will chart the rain?

Raingage in Haleakalā, Maui. Photo credit: John DeLay

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

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

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

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

Mean Annual Rainfall for the State of Hawai‘i

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

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

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

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

Top photo by Adam Levine/cogdog

The Pallada. Image courtesy Pallada.

Right on track

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

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

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

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

Map of Pallada's route

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

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

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

Nursing students gain practical experience working on Sim Man, a high-fidelity manikin.

Saving lives through simulation

Lorrie Wong, Director, University of Hawai'i Health Science Simulation Center
Lorrie Wong, Director, University of Hawai'i Health Science Simulation Center
On entering the patient’s room to check on Mr. Kahui’s vital signs, a student nurse notices that he is having trouble breathing—then goes unconscious. The student immediately activates the rapid response team, the inter-professional
group that determines treatment and begins administering to Mr. Kahui, who is clinging to life.

A day at the hospital, trauma center or emergency room? Actually, it’s a day in class for these nursing students, who are working on Mr. Kahui, a high-fidelity manikin aka Sim Man. The School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene is home to several
such tools to enhance practical learning. The new $8 million UH Translational Health Science Simulation Center, opening in January 2012 in Webster Hall, will serve as a campus hub for interdisciplinary translational health science research, simulation and research education.

The Center provides a venue for students to learn in a range of care delivery settings, including a simulated operating room, intensive care unit, labor and delivery suite, ambulatory, and day home setting. “This is very important to our nursing students,” says Lorrie Wong, director of the Sim Center. “Our students will have real-life experiences that
cover all aspects of healthcare.” The 7,000-squarefoot, state-of-the-art facility will be used for clinical
simulation for students, educators, practicing healthcare providers and researchers.

Through this initiative, the existing simulation labs among the UH Nursing Programs on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawai‘i will be linked. Embraced by Hawai’i’s healthcare community as a shared resource, founding partners of the Center
are UH Mānoa, HMSA Foundation, Hawai‘i Pacific Health, The Queen’s Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente Hawai‘i.

Contact Dr. Wong at lorriew@hawaii.edu or see the website at http://www.nursing.hawaii.edu.

Top photo: Nursing students gain practical experience working on Sim Man, a high-fidelity manikin.

2011-09-infection

No small threat

Viruses causing epidemic vector-borne diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes.
Viruses causing epidemic vector-borne diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes.
How’s this for an unnerving statistic? Infectious diseases kill more people worldwide than any other single cause – that’s according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. A dengue outbreak in Hawai‘i in 2001 and a global resurgence of vector-borne and zoonotic infectious diseases, nearly all originating in Asia, led to the establishment of the Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research in 2003. The Center and its activities are generously supported by institutional funds and a grant from the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program, of the National Center for Research Resources, of the National Institutes of Health.

Hawai‘i’s strategic location as a prominent international port and its geographic proximity and strong ties to institutions within Asia and the Pacific provide a unique setting from which to monitor the emergence and spread of newly recognized infectious diseases and to investigate outbreaks of well-known microbial infections of regional concern and global importance. The Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research is among a handful of research facilities in the world exploring this resurgence.

Richard Yanagihara, Director of the Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research.
Richard Yanagihara, Director of the Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research.
Said Richard Yanagihara, Director of the Pacific Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research, “Infectious diseases are among the most urgent public health and economic problems facing the Asia-Pacific region in the new millennium. In recent years, microbes newly emerging in Asia have caused major epidemics, resulting in significant loss of human lives and devastating economic consequences worldwide.”

Although the myriad factors responsible for the alarming global resurgence of infectious diseases are not fully understood, demographic and societal changes are likely contributors. That is, the unprecedented population growth since World War II has been one of the principal driving forces behind uncontrolled urbanization. Also, the rapid movements of people, animals (and their endo- and ecto-parasites) and commodities via jumbo jets and high-speed trains, along with the insidious breakdown of the public health infrastructure and the misplaced emphasis on curative rather than preventive medicine, have all contributed to the regional and worldwide resurgence of infectious diseases.

The NIH-funded center is a pillar program that draws on the complementary strengths and multidisciplinary expertise within the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the College of Natural Sciences. Because the prevention and control of infectious diseases demand expertise from more than a single discipline, the new center is anchored by the tenets of multi- and trans-disciplinary research, comprising elements of epidemiology and public health, community and family medicine, biobehavioral health, bioinformatics and biostatistics, and microbiology and immunology.

The Center’s overall vision is to become a regional translational science center of research excellence for new, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. And its mission is to develop and deploy improved rapid diagnostics, effective low-cost treatments and affordable vaccines for tropical infectious diseases, which disproportionately affect underserved ethnic minority and disadvantaged communities in the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information, visit: http://pceidr.jabsom.hawaii.edu/.

Biocontainment suite for research on vector-borne and zoonotic viruses.
Biocontainment suite for research on vector-borne and zoonotic viruses.