Recognizing the dedication and service of UH Mānoa faculty, staff, and students committed to enhancing the University’s mission of excellence.
The 2019 Awards ceremony was held on Monday, April 29 at Kennedy Theatre.
You can also see photos of last year’s honorees on our Flickr page.
- Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching
- Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research
- Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
- Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for a Graduate Assistant
- Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service
- Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching
- Presidential Award for Outstanding Service
- Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award
- Peter V. Garrod Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award
- Outstanding Academic Advisor / Advising Unit Award
- Student Excellence in Research Award
- Student Employee of the Year Award
UH Mānoa faculty and staff have also received other awards for their achievements.
Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching
The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching is awarded by the Board of Regents as tribute to faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity and personal values that benefit students.
Jennifer Darrah-Okike is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology in the College of Social Sciences. She states that “serving as a faculty at UH Mānoa is the great privilege of my life. Students are a major reason.” Her students hear that message loud and clear and return it with heart-felt reciprocity, saying “Professor Darrah is hands down my favorite instructor” and “She really cares about us and has brilliant insight that helps us understand.” Darrah-Okike grounds her practices in theories of multiple intelligences and the effectiveness of visual and kinesthetic classroom activities, and engages in place-based teaching and learning. Her colleagues are proud to have her as a member, as a “true asset to the department who has made a significant contribution to our teaching in areas of theory, urban sociology, race/ethnicity, culture and identity.”
Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua of the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Sciences grounds her practices in the principles of: cooperative learning, on-going assessment of herself and her students, place-based and service-learning approaches, and being globally-connected and indigenous-serving. Her model for the Nā Koʻokoʻo program has lead to transformational experiences for students, providing opportunities for them to study social sciences through Kanaka Maoli perspectives, seamlessly weaving visual and written elements, intersecting multiple disciplines, and merging academic scholarship with community labor. One student said, “This program was life-changing, I will forever be inspired.” Goodyear-Kaʻōpua views teaching, research and service as intertwined “to form a durable rope to pull ourselves closer to our goals and communities beyond the campus.” She extends this belief system to students, envisioning them as they practice building their own ropes of understanding.
Li Jiang of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures in the College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature, demonstrates genuine passion for teaching, a strong ability to translate her specialized knowledge of the field of Syntax and Semantics, and tremendous versatility in classroom teaching and serving on numerous dissertation committees in her own department and others. Her colleagues and students recognize her as a devoted, engaging teacher with the ability to connect students’ prior content knowledge with new content knowledge to facilitate their learning. A colleague who has observed her teaching and classes describes her teaching as “highly organized, efficient, passionate and energetic and her classes are exceptionally informative, inspiring, engaging, creative and interesting.” Jiang’s touchstone in teaching is based on Confucian wisdom: to reach beyond the pursuit of knowledge, beyond being interested in knowing, to the higher goal of deriving delights from learning.
Philip Johnson is a professor in the Information and Computer Sciences Department in the College of Natural Sciences. He has initiated a higher performance learning environment he calls “Athletic Software Engineering,” based on his experience as a competitive outrigger canoe paddler and CrossFit member. Students achieve competency by performing timed “workouts” on real-world systems they have built, enabling them to solve problems correctly and quickly. Johnson offers students a unique challenge—consistent, team-based, fast-paced, results-oriented project work like they can expect in a real software-development setting. Alumni report that his courses were the most useful to them in their future work in the community. A former student expressed a “deep respect for Johnson due to his extensive knowledge, his unapologetically intense enthusiasm for teaching, his endless devotion to his students and his infectious passion for constant innovation.”
James Pietsch of the William S. Richardson School of Law is a recognized expert at the intersection of law, aging, health care and bioethics. He teaches courses that intersect with the Center on Aging, School of Nursing and John A. Burns School of Medicine. His preferred methods of engaging students include rhetoric, dialogue and the Socratic Method. He also enables students through innovative, experiential “clinics” that cannot be replicated in a textbook or classroom. In clinic, students confronted with realities of poverty, loneliness and concerns facing many people with disabilities in our community learn the value an attorney may extend well beyond the practice of law. His own sustained commitment to bringing university expertise to community contexts is so manifest, so embedded in his teaching, that upon leaving UH on highly diverse professional paths, considerable numbers of Pietsch’s students are inspired to replicate those practices as their own.
Lance Walters is an assistant professor in the School of Architecture. As a practicing professional architect who brings both passion and compassion to his teaching, students learn to be exceptional designers knowing full well that they will be challenged to produce their best work under his tutelage. Students remark on his investment in their well-being, naturally seeing the best in them, while expressing values of education, importance of being a global citizen and expanding awareness and setting high expectations for oneself. Walters communicates the significance of cultural values and a unique sense of place, articulating the importance of his connections to family and to landscape through the lens of his indigenous heritage. He has generated collaborative design projects that reach the community, providing opportunities for students to extend classroom skills to direct and impactful purpose in the context of community and campus.
Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research
The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research is awarded by the Board of Regents in recognition of scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community.
Tim Li is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. He is one of most influential scientists in tropical climate dynamics worldwide. Li has published 290 professionally referred research papers and a book during his 20 years of teaching and research at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. As a principal investigator, he brought in $6 million of research grants to UH. He served as an advisor to 25 PhD students and 42 postdoctoral research fellows and visiting scientists in the past 20 years. Li is editor of high-impact professional journals Journal of Climate and Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Craig Smith is a professor in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. He joined the Department of Oceanography in 1988. Smith’s research on biodiversity, ecosystem function, climate change and conservation in seafloor ecosystems ranges from Hawaiian mangrove communities to abyssal habitats targeted for seafloor mining. Among his major research accomplishments include the design and implementation of a network of marine protected areas covering 1.44 million km2 to protect the biodiversity of abyssal ecosystems in the face of deep-sea mining. At UH, Smith has led 66 oceanographic research expeditions to sites spanning equatorial waters to below the Antarctic circle, received 52 research grants totaling about $14 million and published more than 180 scientific papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
Robert Toonen is a professor at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. He joined the faculty in 2003 and formed a joint laboratory with Brian Bowen, affectionately known as the “ToBo” lab. His research interests are diverse and touch on many aspects of marine biology. During his time at UH Mānoa, Toonen has been an author on more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and has served as a principal investigator on more than 50 extramural grants totaling more than $25 million. He advised 48 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, 11 of whom are now in tenure-track positions of their own.
Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
The Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for a faculty and a graduate assistant recognizes dedication and demonstrated excellence as teachers of undergraduate students. It was established as a memorial to the late Frances Davis, who taught mathematics at Leeward Community College and UH Mānoa for 19 years.
Karyl Garland, a lecturer in the Department of English, is carrying on a family legacy in her teaching. The concept of storytelling is interwoven throughout her teaching philosophy. In the spirit of place-based education, Garland begins the element of storytelling with a personal narrative asking students to recall a place of significance, to evoke an atmosphere in which “learners become part of a community greater than their own and recognize themselves within that community as individual of extraordinary value.” Her courses include business writing, introductory and advanced composition and professional editing. Utilizing her expertise with editorial work, she introduces students to the art of professional editing and publishing, and they attribute successes outside the university to the form of professionalism she embodies as a teacher. “After taking her class, I understand the importance of writing well,” said one student.
Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for a Graduate Assistant
Maureen Kearns is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mathematics. She possesses a tremendous passion for education. Her approach to teaching includes the key components of genuine care for students, remaining humble and having a sense of responsibility to her community. Kearns has sought outside training from Youth Mental Health First Aid USA and Safe Zone Training on LGBTQ+ Safety and Inclusion to help become a well-rounded, effective instructor. She understands her students come from unique backgrounds and have much more going on in their lives than just the math class at hand. One student echoes the sentiment of many others, saying, “She dedicates a lot of time to out-of-class help and also provides students with an abundance of resources. She is by far the best T.A. I have ever had for any class.”
Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service
The Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service recognizes a UH Mānoa faculty member for playing a socially significant role by applying intellectual leadership and academic expertise to the improvement of the community. The award was established as a memorial to longtime Mānoa College of Education Professor Robert Clopton and first awarded in 1977.
Kathy E. Ferguson
Kathy E. Ferguson is a professor in the Political Science and Women’s Studies Departments. She is an internationally renowned scholar and political theorist in language and power. In her 25 years at the UH Mānoa, Ferguson has taken her study of language in a direction grounded in community-based multi-sensory instruction, in the service of dyslexia and literacy in Hawaiʻi. Seeking training and certification and serving on the Hawaiʻi International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors for 17 years, she researched and published A Resource Guide for People in Hawaiʻi in 2008. In 2018, Ferguson significantly revised and expanded it. One community professional writes, “Information in the guide can’t be found in any other single known publication, anywhere.” The words of a child reveal why she is considered the premier tutor on Oʻahu in Tutoring and Academic Language Therapy: “I began to be tutored by Ms. Kathy when I was just five years old. Eight years later, I am going to an incredible private school and testing in the 98th percentile in language arts. I am one of many children who have benefited from her wisdom, kindness and love.”
Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching
The Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching recognizes Mānoa faculty members who have made significant contributions to teaching and student learning.
Jing Guo is an associate professor in the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. She recognizes that it is critical to challenge students’ assumptions and perspectives. Most students entering social work show strong preferences for one-on-one work with clients, but department colleagues note a dramatic upsurge in interest in Guo’s specialty after students take her courses. She is recognized for her innovative approaches that become the standard for faculty who follow in her footsteps and seen as a leader in the school and nationally in the creation of a curriculum guide for addressing policy work. Guo has collaborated in developing a China summer service learning course where six cohorts of 19 social work students serve in an orphanage in China for five weeks. Students indicate Guo has provided a deeply extraordinary and profound learning experience for them.
Bliss Kaneshiro is a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. She is recognized for setting the bar high as a physician committed to unifying medicine, research and education in the field of family planning, building on underlying principles of social justice. Kaneshiro teaches students to be attentive to disparities in health care as the most significant medical challenge, and to think about innovative ways to reach the most disadvantaged in our communities. Colleagues recognize that Kaneshiro “distinguishes herself from others climbing the ladder of success because she brings others up the ladder with her.” She fosters an environment of enquiry amongst students, residents, fellows and junior faculty in the department, and by involving and educating all levels of learners, she leaves a deep and sustainable impact on young physicians to advance reproductive medicine.
Andrew H. Reilly
Andrew H. Reilly is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. He garnered national and international prominence by innovatively shaping international and national pedagogy in the fields of fashion, design and merchandising disciplines. His students experience transformative learning opportunities that integrate cutting-edge scholarship into the classroom, then expand those opportunities to community settings. Reilly’s mentorship of students creates opportunities to compete in and gain national and international exposure for their work. A former PhD, now an academic in their own country, credits Reilly with the direction his profession took. To Reilly, respect and critical thinking are at the core, but along that path, he clearly instills more. Japanese-speaking students in one of his classes took the sound of his first name and assigned kanji to each syllable, creating a joyful pseudonym: “happy dragon who inspires others.”
Janet Uyehara is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. She engages with students interactively through concept-based experience, case study sessions, simulation lab and debriefing sessions and the postpartum childbearing teaching project. She collaborated with two other maternal newborn faculty to develop, implement and update simulation scenarios, where students learn the content and care in class first and then apply it to the simulation lab experience. These scenarios use high-fidelity technology manikins who simulate giving birth. Through these innovative approaches, student interest and abilities increase and along with that, they experience the joys, realities and challenges of the nursing field. Students often comment on who Uyehara puts first; some say she puts students first and others say she puts patients first. Either way, they all agree she exemplifies excellence, innovation, dedication and leadership.
Presidential Award for Outstanding Service
The Presidential Award for Outstanding Service honors a Mānoa staff member who demonstrates outstanding work performance, service and leadership.
Andrew Brown (APT)
Andrew Brown is a facilities and auxiliary services officer with the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). He is responsible for oversight of all facilities operations, which include research-related services, as well as maintenance and repair of lab buildings and other infrastructure; equipment; mechanical, plumbing, electrical and AC systems; vehicles; grounds and a small boat fleet. Since taking on the position nearly four years ago, Brown has moved mountains to improve the facilities and well-being of everyone at HIMB, significantly enhancing the delivery of service on the island, and improving functionality and cost savings capabilities in order to help meet program objectives. His colleagues noted, “Drew is the friendliest, most energetic and courteous employee on island, performing every single job with a smile. He goes out of his way to help out a colleague, and yet he is still incredibly effective and efficient.”
Wesley Isono (BGM)
Wesley Isono is a mechanical repair worker for Buildings and Grounds Management (BGM). He has been in this position for three years and with BGM since 2008. During this time, Isono has excelled in his job while covering another vacancy. His work requires him to do repair and maintenance on more than 100 pieces of small engine equipment and 90 trash and recycling dumpsters. Not only does he cover two jobs, but he performs work outside of his assignment to pare down pending work orders for servicing janitorial equipment. Isono has completed 315 work orders in 2018 alone, ensuring staff have the proper working tools and equipment to keep the UH Mānoa campus safe and clean for all students, faculty, staff and visitors. He does all this with a dedication to perfection and great customer service.
Monica Stitt-Bergh (Faculty Specialist)
Monica Stitt-Bergh is a faculty specialist with the Assessment Office. A 25-year employee of the university, she has been in her current position for 11 years. Through her leadership, Stitt-Bergh established the framework and infrastructure for assessment, and strengthened the practice of learning outcomes assessment campuswide. She coordinated faculty groups that involve more than 100 faculty members in establishing undergraduate Institutional Learning Objectives, setting performance standards, assessing learning achievement, and mobilizing campus groups in using assessment results for learning improvement. She has offered more than 100 workshops and 400 consultations to over 100 academic degree programs and co-curricular programs. Under her leadership, the Assessment Office’s website won the “Featured Website” award from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Her contributions to evaluation and assessment at the national level have made UH Mānoa known for excellence in promoting meaningful and manageable collaborative learning assessment.
Nick Yamauchi (Civil Service)
Nicholas Yamauchi was promoted recently to an agricultural research technician V with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ Kona Research Station on Hawaiʻi Island. Serving the college since 2016, Yamauchi maintains and manages the research station’s daily needs including coffee, macadamia nut, forage, landscape and fruit tree research and outreach. His can-do and forward-thinking attitude drives CTAHR programs forward. With his many years of direct, hands-on coffee and fruit tree experience, Yamauchi provides practical guidance and support to research and extension faculty and staff. Colleagues say he is observant, organized and gifted with technical skills beyond his years. He absorbs information and applies what he has learned to basic, complex and even life-threatening situations. “Working with Nick is effortless and fun. He thinks and takes action with purpose and fluidity, leading to greater work efficiency and effectiveness,” said a colleague.
Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award
The Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award from the UH Mānoa Commission on Inclusion and Diversity recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to enhancing diversity. The award was established to recognize Dr. Amy Agbayani’s lifetime commitment to diversity and social justice in Hawai‘i. For more than 40 years, she served as the founder and director of Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity.
Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, associate professor and chair in the Department of Political Science, is an effective leader in bringing diverse communities to the university and infusing Native Hawaiian values. Her research and teaching are intertwined with her service to Native Hawaiian and other indigenous communities. She has published extensively and has created numerous experiential learning opportunities for students through local and international relationships. Goodyear-Kaʻōpua takes her talent for collaboration to global contexts, enabling partnerships and exchanges between Mānoa and other campuses in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. These global collaborations enhance diversity by bringing more indigenous students into contact with UH and expanding their opportunities. In local communities, she contributes an extraordinary amount of time and energy to K-12 public education – she teaches classes, trains leaders, serves on nonprofit boards, practices environmental stewardship and brings UH students into local settings so their experiences are enhanced. Goodyear-Kaʻōpua is unique in her ability to utilize her scholarship on Indigenous self-determination, governance, education and social movements to engage community involvement.
Peter V. Garrod Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award
Established by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Graduate Division in 2005, the Peter V. Garrod Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award allows graduate students to nominate faculty for excellent mentoring, one of the foundations of outstanding graduate education.
Patricia Steinhoff has taught at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa since 1968, serving as director of the Center for Japanese Studies, graduate chair and department chair in the Sociology Department. Steinhoff teaches courses on social movements, Japanese society and qualitative content analysis. She has published 23 books and monographs and 105 articles and book chapters, including two books and 10 articles in Japanese. In addition to early research on abortion in Hawaiʻi and long-term studies of the Japanese New Left, she has conducted large-scale surveys for the Japan Foundation, publishing several editions of the Directory of Japan Specialists and Japanese Studies Institutions in the United States and Canada and monographs analyzing the state of Japanese studies in the U.S. Steinhoff mentored 46 PhD students who successfully graduated and 10 students who are currently pursuing their PhD, serving as chair in 38 out of these 56 PhD committees. She also mentored 35 MA students in sociology and has sat on numerous committees in Asian studies. Steinhoff was the university representative for many students in geography, anthropology, political science, history, Japanese language and literature and philosophy.
Outstanding Academic Advisor and Advising Unit of the Year
The Council of Academic Advisors recognizes an individual or unit who, over the past two years, has demonstrated excellence and/or innovation in advising, and/or has made a significant contribution to the advising community.
Pakela Individual Advisor Award
Co-award recipients Kenton (Kenny) Harsch and Priscilla Faucette are the director and associate director of the English Language Institute and academic advisors for the undergraduate program in Second Language Studies (SLS). They provide advising and support for a myriad of students, from SLS majors to international students to graduate assistants who teach in undergraduate programs. In addition, they nurtured growth of the BA program in SLS, working with the department to develop and teach practicum and capstone courses for students. Since its creation in 2011, the program has grown to become the third-largest major in the College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature. Harsch spearheaded efforts to create a 5-year BA/MA pathway for majors who were interested in pursuing a graduate degree and worked with Kapiʻolani Community College to facilitate articulation from its Second Language Teaching program to the SLS program at UH Mānoa. Faucette provides support and resources for institute students and graduate assistants she advises and supervises, from coordinating workshops to compiling online resources to organizing social events to help them network. She developed resources for instructors and departments to help them better understand and work with the international students whom she and Harsch advise.
‘Oikela Advising Unit Award
The College of Education Office of Student Academic Services (COE OSAS) is led by Director Denise Nakaoka and Associate Director Denise Abara, and includes academic advisors Alyssa Kapaona, Reid Kuioka, Jolene Muneno and Karen Wilson; Graduate Information Officer Adam Tanners; Administrative Manager Kori Ricci; Secretary Geri Salvador; graduate assistant LaJoya Shelly and student assistants Dolores Black, Toni Oyama and Jorin Young. The office provides services related to five core functions: recruitment, admission, advising, retention and graduation. The team established partnerships with state departments and other COE units to impact the teaching profession. They were instrumental in a $1.2 million award to the college to provide tuition stipends for students. They also received more than $11,000 in grants to support various underrepresented student activities and events. In collaboration with UH units, OSAS received $90,000 from a U.S. Department of Education grant to use toward recruiting and retaining Native Hawaiian students interested in teaching and STEM fields. OSAS developed relationships with local high schools that have a high percentage of underserved populations, and worked with campus administrators in offering courses to students. In addition, the unit offers recruitment and advising services to neighbor island students, satellite advising at all the community college campuses, and advising for students interested in graduate programs.
Student Excellence in Research Award
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.
Matthew Abplanalp joined UH Mānoa in 2012 to obtain a PhD in chemistry. He studies astrochemistry – the chemistry occurring throughout the harsh environments of space – and the related physical chemistry processes. His implementation of a tunable ‘soft’ photoionization technique coupled with a state-of-the-art ultra-high vacuum apparatus has led to multiple novel discoveries such as isomer specific detections, reaction mechanisms and non-equilibrium formation routes of astrophysically important molecules. These breakthroughs have been reflected in eight first author publications across multiple peer-reviewed journals, research talks at scientific conferences and reported on by the general media. Abplanalp’s collaboration with scientists in Virginia, Florida, Germany and Taiwan has led to 13 additional co-author publications to date. Outside of the lab, he is an advocate for chemistry outreach serving on the executive committee of the Hawaiʻi American Chemical Society.
Daniel Coffey is pursuing a PhD in marine biology and is expected to graduate in 2019. His research at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) focuses on the biology of large marine fishes such as tuna and sharks. Coffey’s dissertation has explored the behavior and physiological ecology of a deep water shark, the bluntnose sixgill shark, in its natural habitat in Hawaiian waters. He designed and deployed sophisticated instrument packages that are attached to the shark and measure depth, temperature and its movements. He was the first to use and publish a fish-borne device to measure in situ oxygen concentrations experienced by the animal. During his time at HIMB, Coffey has published 10 refereed papers and received numerous awards and grants to support his research.
Rachael Wade will be graduating with a PhD in botany in spring 2019. She studies the biodiversity of siphonous green algae in the Hawaiian Islands, and has developed a tool for analyzing the smallest and most diverse forms of these algae by studying the chloroplasts captured by sap-sucking sea slugs. Wade has also made critical contributions to understanding several Hawaiian invasive seaweed species. She has published eight papers and was awarded multiple prizes for her talks at scientific conferences. She held numerous leadership and service positions in graduate student and scientific societies. Wade’s research has been highlighted by the local media on several occasions. She has taught and mentored a number of students while at UH Mānoa, and through her passion for outreach, has made her research accessible to the general public and K-12 students.
Student Employee of the Year Award
The Student Employee of the Year Program was created in 1986 by the Mānoa Career Center to recognize and highlight the achievements and contributions of student employees on the UH Mānoa campus.
Jenniefer Corpuz is a student services assistant in the Electrical Engineering Department in the College of Engineering. A senior majoring in English, she has worked with the department for three years and is recognized for her dependability, promptness and conscientiousness, all displayed with professionalism. Not only does Corpuz perform well-defined tasks without any errors, but she is also able to extrapolate from previous instructions and experience to address new issues that she has not come across before. On top of everything else, she has a positive attitude and is always willing to lend a helping hand. Corpuz was also selected as the 2019 Hawai‘i State Winner of the Western Association of Student Employment Administrators.