Category Archives: Story of the Week

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A salute to better medical care

Third-year medical students suit up for surgery. Photo by Arnold Kameda, JABSOM.
Third-year medical students suit up for surgery. Photo by Arnold Kameda, JABSOM.

There are different ways to show support for active military and veterans, ranging from throwing parades with marching bands to shaking the hands of soldiers in uniform.  Now the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is thanking those who safeguard our country by participating in Joining Forces, a national program intent on improving health care for active duty military, veterans and their families.

JABSOM joins First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden (wife of Vice President Biden), the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine as they encourage a new generation of doctors, medical schools and research facilities to make sure military heroes receive exemplary medical care. Coordinating JABSOM’s response is retired U.S. Army Colonel Larry Burgess, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Telehealth Research Institute.

“Our medical school has a long history of collaboration with the military and their dependents in understanding the unique challenges faced by deploying soldiers and their families during and after deployment,” explains Dr. Burgess.  He notes that many of JABSOM’s physicians in training and medical students complete rotations at Tripler Army Medical Center and Veterans Affairs medical clinics.  “This gives trainees a first-hand experience in understanding the problems experienced by the military and veterans.” 

Dr. Lawrence Burgess
Dr. Lawrence Burgess

Dr. Burgess explains that with the advent of Joining Forces, JABSOM is modifying its medical school curriculum, particularly those involving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  For example, in the past, medical students would study the symptoms of a hypothetical 35-year-old male patient suffering from TBI after being involved in a terrible car accident.  Now the scenario would involve a military patient injured in a Humvee when a roadside bomb exploded.  This emphasis will provide students with a better understanding of the post-injury sequelae faced by soldiers as they return home and transition to the community. 

It’s a natural outgrowth for JABSOM to become more involved in the treatment of military veterans, because its Ho‘oikaika (“to strive”) program already assists both military and civilians in managing PTSD and TBI. As described by Ho‘oikaika Project Director Robin Brandt, PhD, “Our mission is to help individuals with TBI to access social services and achieve greater independence through peer mentoring.” 

Joining Forces is the largest coordinated commitment from America’s medical colleges to support veterans and military families. Since 2000, the U.S. Defense Department estimates nearly 213,000 military personnel have suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, after more than 10 years of war.

For more information on Joining Forces, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces and http://jabsom.hawaii.edu. For more information on Ho‘oikaika at JABSOM, see http://manoa.hawaii.edu/pbrrtc/hooikaika/?page_id=52

David Franzen, copyright 2011

Pleased to be platinum

UH Foundation, copyright 2011
C-MORE Director and Oceanography Professor Dave Karl. Photo courtesy of UH Foundation.
In 2006, planning began for a brand-new building at UH Mānoa that would house the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), whose operations were dispersed across campus in four separate locations.  Back then, Oceanography Professor and C-MORE Director Dave Karl was familiar with LEED building certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a prestigious rating system for sustainability in construction and design established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.  

Ratings ranged from the lowest, certified, to silver, gold, and at the very top, platinum—an honor that was extremely rare and difficult to achieve.  “I would have been very pleased with LEED Gold certification, but Vassilis Syrmos (Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education) and the team at Group 70 Architects thought that LEED Platinum might be within reach,” remembers Karl. 

The more Karl thought about it, the more excited he became.  Why not strive for the highest level of certification, since UH Mānoa has been locally and nationally recognized for cutting its energy usage and leading the charge to lessen its dependence on fossil fuel consumption?  Says Karl, “After all, C-MORE scientists are committed to learning more about the natural world, and sustainability of life in the sea.  So when the opportunity arose to help design a new laboratory to support their work, they were also committed to a sustainable building design.”

Fast-forward to 2012.  Today, in the lobby of C-MORE Hale, located next to the Biomedical Sciences building at the end of East-West Road, is a proud display of welcome that announces exciting news.  Visitors are impressed to learn that they are standing in the very first research laboratory building in Hawai‘i, and one of the few in the country, to receive the highest level of LEED certification.   

The Platinum rating is based on C-MORE’s green design and construction features that positively impacted the project itself and the broader community.  These attributes include:

  • The use of 48% less potable water, compared to a conventional building of similar size and use, through incorporation of ultra low-flow toilets, automated faucets and waterless urinals.
  • Diversion of 25,000 gallons of water from city storm drains through the implementation of an underground storm water chamber detention system. 
  • Establishment of a 2,400 square foot green roof that helps to reduce storm water runoff, reduce building temperature, increase carbon dioxide removal and provide a beautiful eco-habitat for insects and birds.  The green roof contains a variety of native and adapted plants, including Aloe, ‘Akulikuli, Sedum and Portulaca.
  • The reduction of irrigation demand by 65% in comparison to typical turf (grass) landscape typically found on campus.  The landscape design incorporated dry stream beds with river rocks in lieu of turf grass, drought-tolerant planting and native landscaping like ‘Aki‘aki and Naupaka, and a drip irrigation with rain-sensing irrigation controls to reduce water demand significantly.
  • Utilization of solar hot water heat recovery, which contributes to reduction of the building’s energy consumption by 52.2% over a standard laboratory of similar size and usage, translating into a 31.4% savings in energy costs a year.  In addition, 78% of spaces in the building are considered day-lit, which saves an immense amount of energy.  The primary building lighting is equipped with smart controls, in which occupancy sensors shut off lights when rooms are unoccupied and light sensors reduce the light levels according to the amount of daylight detected.

 

C-MORE Hale is also the winner of a 2011 Kukulu Hale Award from the Hawai‘i Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties in the category New Project-Commercial/Other, 40,000 square feet or less.

“We all worked as a coherent team in bringing the building to the standards that we envisioned,” says Karl.  “So here we are today celebrating this great achievement.”

C-MORE is one of only 17 National Science Foundation-sponsored Science and Technology Centers.  The building provides 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research laboratory and support spaces focused on the study of ocean microbes.  Completed in 2010, C-MORE exemplifies a new direction in research facility—one that promotes interdisciplinary collaboration, transparent connectivity and representation of its research mission.

For more information on C-MORE, see http://cmore.soest.hawaii.edu.

Top photo: An exterior shot of C-MORE Hale. Photo by David Franzen, copyright 2011

Lab space in C-MORE Hale.  Photo by David Franzen, copyright 2011
Lab space in C-MORE Hale. Photo by David Franzen, copyright 2011
Dick Pratt receives a certificate and medallion conferred by Academy Rector Chuluubaatar.

Transitioning Mongolia

For a man whose interests lie in organizational diagnosis, reform for public organizations, educational innovation, the design of learning environments, political-economy, and globalization and public institutions, it is fitting that he was honored for doing what he loves.

Dick Pratt, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Public Administration Program Director, recently received two awards for his work in Mongolia. He became an Honorary Professor at the National Academy of Governance in Ulaanbaatar for enhancing the quality of its teaching and research on September 20.  The Academy is the institution responsible for educating current and future public leaders and civil servants in Mongolia.

Pratt also received a certificate and medallion conferred by Academy Rector Chuluubaatar on behalf of the nation’s President for contributions to the country’s transition to democracy. He was in Mongolia for a conference on the challenges and opportunities of democracy, for which he was a co-convener and keynote speaker.

Said Pratt, “I have been extremely fortunate to develop relationships with wonderful colleagues in Mongolia, and to work closely with them on projects aimed at strengthening their public organizations and their graduate education on behalf of their evolving democracy.”

Pratt, who received his doctorate from UH Mānoa, is a Professor of Public Administration.  His international work has focused on strengthening public institutions in transitional settings, and in the reform of public higher education.  He has been working in Thailand since 1996 and in Mongolia since 2002.

The Public Administration Program (PUBA) focuses on building leadership for public service and strengthening public organizations, government and nonprofit groups in Hawai‘i and in the Asia-Pacific region.  It was founded in 1984 and today offers a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and two graduate certificates.  PUBA has an alumni network of over 500 graduates.  The Program is highly interdisciplinary and emphasizes the ability to apply what is learned to address the complex issues that face people in public service roles.

Top photo: Dick Pratt receives a certificate and medallion conferred by Academy Rector Chuluubaatar.

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

The Staff of LIFE

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

By Frederika Bain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mahalo to OHA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Russia, with honor

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

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

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

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

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

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Singing the praises of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

A classroom full of lucky music students experienced the chance of a lifetime recently, when Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the noted New Zealand/Maori soprano opera singer, stopped by the UH Mānoa campus to lead an intimate masterclass. Imagine—the students and other lucky audience members benefitted from the expertise and artistry of an operatic superstar with 40 years of stage time throughout the world.  Kanawa was in Honolulu for a September concert at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Rachel Schutz, a seasoned soprano recitalist and adjunct voice instructor at UH Mānoa, was in awe of the intensity of the session, and how Kanawa was both honest and demanding of the students. “She didn’t let them get away with anything, and if they weren’t able to get exactly what she wanted, then she kept trying and thinking of new ways until they succeeded. Her demonstration was great,” recalled Schutz.

Rose Lane, a second year Master of Music student in Vocal Performance who also teaches three classes at Kapi‘olani Community College, was the first nervous student called up to sing for Kanawa.  But Lane still revels in the excitement of that moment. “She was absolutely amazing!” exclaimed Lane. “She gave the impression that she really cared about me as a singer, which was evident in the way she responded to my questions during and after the masterclass and how she tried to push me to get my artistry to a new level.  It was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that none of us will forget.”

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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.

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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