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.
2018 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research
Samir K. Khanal
Samir Khanal is an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). Khanal is a leading researcher in the field of anaerobic digestion, bioenergy, waste-to-resources and environmental biotechnology. He has published more than 90 papers in high quality international journals. In addition, he published the book, Anaerobic Biotechnology for Bioenergy Production: Principles and Applications, which was a best seller in 2008. He also recently published a bioenergy textbook, Bioenergy: Principles and Applications. He has supervised 13 PhD, 17 masters, 17 undergraduate and 12 high school students, 13 postdocs and 14 visiting scholars. Khanal is an associate editor of Bioresource Technology. He was a recipient of the CTAHR Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2016.
Bo Qiu is a professor in the Department of Oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. His scientific interests include large-scale ocean circulation variability, midlatitude air-sea interaction, geophysical fluid dynamics and satellite oceanography. He has published more than 120 articles in peer-reviewed journals and was a contributing author to both Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th and 5th Assessment Reports. Qiu was a recipient of the Okada Prize from the Oceanographic Society of Japan, as well as the New Investigators Award from NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth Program. He currently serves as a member of various organizations including the U.S. Argo Implementation Panel, the International Climate and Ocean: Variability, Predictability and Change’s Northwest Pacific Ocean Circulation and Climate Experiment Program Science Steering Committee, the Pacific Asian Marginal Seas Program Science Steering Committee and the Tropical Pacific Observing System 2020 Western Pacific Task Team.
2018 Student Excellence in Research
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.
Samuel Grunblatt joined UH Mānoa in 2013 to obtain a PhD in astronomy. Grunblatt studies exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) orbiting distant red giant stars, which are future versions of our Sun. Combining data from the NASA K2 Mission, world-class telescopes on Maunakea and novel analysis techniques, Grunblatt has discovered two new planets orbiting such stars, shedding new light on the mechanism responsible for the formation of these exotic systems. He has led multiple first-author publications and presented his research in talks at major international conferences including NASA’s Ames Research Center. His results have been highlighted in popular media. Grunblatt is also passionate about outreach and has encouraged local high school students to literally aim for the stars and search for new planets orbiting the solar system.
Zhibin (Ben) Liang is pursuing his doctorate in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). He is passionate about neurosciences and conducts innovative and rigorous investigations on Alzheimer’s drug discovery. Liang has been using novel biomedical technologies in his dissertation research, resulting in the development of new glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) inhibitors as promising neuroprotective agents for Alzheimer’s treatment. In the past two years, he has published three lead-authored and two co-authored papers on his research in peer-reviewed journals. His scientific accomplishments have been well recognized. He won the four best research awards at the 2016 and 2017 CTAHR Student Research Symposia. He received the 2016 American Chemical Society Division of Biological Chemistry Travel Award and the 2017 American Society of Pharmacognosy the Lynn Brady Travel Award. Liang was the awardee of the 2017 Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Young Investigator Scholarship. He hopes that his scientific contributions will one day help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Nathaniel Wehr is pursuing a master of science in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM) in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. His thesis research examines the ecological relationship between feral pigs and soil microbial and macroinvertebrate communities, relationships that have been largely undescribed and represent important knowledge gaps in the management of invasive species, as well as public health in the Pacific Islands. This work earned him the Watson T. Yoshimoto Fellowship in the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology Graduate Specialization. Outside of his thesis research, Wehr works cooperatively on research projects examining the population dynamics of the endangered Hawaiian stilt. He is the treasurer for the Society for Conservation Biology, Hawaiʻi Chapter and the grant and awards representative for the NREM Graduate Student Organization. Wehr intends to pursue a PhD in wildlife ecology, with the ultimate goal of entering academia to continue his passions of teaching and conducting research.