The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research is awarded in recognition of scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community. Candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by their colleagues. Awards at different levels (assistant, associate and full professor) are available.
2017 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research
Christoph J. Baranec
Christoph Baranec is an assistant astronomer at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy. He designs, builds and uses adaptive optics systems—instruments that overcome the blurring effects of the Earth’s atmosphere. Baranec won an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2014 for leading the development of the world’s first automated adaptive optic system, Robo-AO. Observations from this system appear in 30 scientific publications, with many more in preparation. These include several of the largest number count adaptive optics surveys ever performed: all of the several thousands of Kepler candidate exoplanet hosts and all known stars within 80 light years observable from the northern hemisphere. Baranec currently leads the effort to deploy an upgraded version of Robo-AO to the University of Hawaiʻi 2.2-m telescope, which will achieve resolutions approaching that of the Hubble Space Telescope.
James Dean Brown
James Dean “JD” Brown has made outstanding contributions to the field of applied linguistics in the areas of language testing, language curriculum design, language research methods and teaching of connected speech. Since joining the Department of Second Language Studies, he has trained hundreds of graduate students and served on 44 doctoral committees. His 370 publications include 25 books, 23 monographs, 51 peer-reviewed articles, 74 book chapters and more, all of which have garnered nearly 12,000 citations. As a speaker, he has delivered 60 invited plenary/keynote speeches, 56 peer-reviewed conference presentations and more than 300 other invited lectures and workshops. This Fulbright Senior Scholar has earned the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Award; the International Language Testing Association Samuel Messick Award; and the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature Excellence in Scholarship and Research Award.
Jeffrey R. Kuhn
Jeff Kuhn is an astronomer with the Institute for Astronomy. He is a physicist who joined UH in 1998 to study the sun. He is internationally recognized for improving our understanding of the global properties of the sun, its mean structure, rotation and the physics of its variability. On Haleakalā, he built a telescope that measures the weak magnetism of the sun’s outer atmosphere. This unusual instrument demonstrates how the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, now under construction on Haleakalā, will revolutionize our understanding of the inconstant sun’s effect on the Earth. He currently works on optical concepts that may someday enable large, next-generation instruments to detect signatures of life on nearby exoplanets. He is also a vocal advocate for university efforts to engage non-academic partners with academic researchers in order to create useful technologies.
2017 Student Excellence in Research (Doctoral Level)
The Student Excellence in Research Award is awarded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research in recognition of outstanding scholarly research endeavors by students while they pursue a degree at the doctoral, master’s or bachelor’s level.
Mapuana Antonio is a Native Hawaiian doctoral student dedicated to advancing the health of indigenous people. Her research explores associations involving stress, coping, obesity, diabetes and general health among Native Hawaiians, especially those residing on Hawaiian Homestead Lands. For her dissertation, she validated a tool to measure resilience among Native Hawaiians and demonstrated a significant relationship between resilience and health. During her doctoral program, she served as co-investigator of the Papakōlea Hawaiian Homestead Community Health Survey and as a research assistant for the National Institutes of Health-funded PILI ʻOhana Program. Antonio also has gained international research experience as a scholar in the Māhina International Indigenous Health Research Training Program. To date, her publications catalog successful public health programs addressing the mental and physical health of indigenous adolescents and explore associations between perceived racism, obesity and overall health.
William M. Best
Following a 15-year career teaching math, physics and counseling at Punahou School, William Best joined UH Mānoa to pursue a doctorate in his lifelong passion for astronomy. He studies the properties of brown dwarfs (faint gaseous bodies with masses in between planets and stars) that reside in our neighborhood of the galaxy. He does this using the exceptional ground-based telescopes in Hawaiʻi, especially the Pan-STARRS wide-field survey telescope, which is producing a digital multi-color movie of the sky. His dissertation work is yielding new insights about how and when nearby brown dwarfs formed and also how they change over time. Best brings intellect, diligence and enthusiasm to his research and has been recognized as the 2017 ARCS (Advancing Science in America) Scholar in astronomy.
Glen M. Chew
Glen Chew has a high affinity for science and technology and brings novel constructive ideas to his PhD research project in the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. His research focuses on understanding mechanisms driving immune dysfunction during chronic viral infections. As a PhD candidate, he has published a first-authored, peer-reviewed scientific manuscript on his research and also contributed to nine co-authored publications. He received the 2016 Koenig Award in Medicine from the ARCS foundation (Honolulu Chapter) and the 2015 and 2016 Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw Biomedical Research Scholarships for his research. Chew also presented his research at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in 2014 and 2017 and at the International AIDS Society in 2015. His research will lead to ways to harness the immune system to prevent, control or eliminate HIV infection and optimize quality of life outcomes.