Recognizing the dedication and service of UH Mānoa faculty, staff, and students committed to enhancing the University’s mission of excellence. The 2022 UH Mānoa Awards Ceremony honored our 2020, 2021, and 2022 award winners on May 2nd at Kennedy Theatre.
You can also see photos of the 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
- Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research & Creative Work
- Student Excellence in Research Award
- Student Employee of the Year Award
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.
Troy Andrade is an associate professor of the William S. Richardson School of Law. He considers himself a direct beneficiary of the legacy of the heart and soul of the Ulu Lehua Scholars Program. Thirty-four prior and current Lehua Scholars write at length about feeling “privileged to call Professor Andrade our inspirational, exceptional, fearless director and leader.” Andrade teaches courses in the areas of social justice lawyering, legal writing and Hawaiʻi’s legal history, “some of the most time intensive, rigorous and high impact courses at the Law School.” His colleagues describe him as a generous, hardworking and professional spirit. While incorporating traditional law teaching methods, he also tries to make the class accessible so students grasp the tremendous kuleana they must shoulder as future lawyers. One strategy Andrade utilizes is that students roleplay as judges or lawyers as an alternative to using traditional Socratic dialogue. He builds in assessment options throughout the semester rather than a single high stakes exam. He also takes his teachings off campus to resources and repositories available across the state.
Daniel Harris-McCoy is an associate professor of classics in the College of Arts, Languages & Letters. He wants his students to develop a vision; to see their lives as a series of wonders, ideas and challenges to be solved. He has developed a productive dialectical relationship between his research and teaching. In teaching the rhythmic nature of Latin verb endings, Harris-McCoy challenged a student-musician to set the endings to a hip-hop beat. Professor and student then recorded two albums to support teaching Latin and Greek. He speaks of an aesthetic of “juiciness” in academe to counter formal, overly rigid thought and behavior. A student reports: “He engaged us all on our human levels; as I imagined ancient Greece was, a meeting of intellectuals as equals, learning from one other. I LOVED THIS CLASS!” Harris-McCoy secured and refurbished a classroom to resemble a medieval scriptorium or Renaissance antiquarian study, enabling students to sit together accordingly, rather than in the typical campus classroom space.
Peiling Kao is an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Arts, Languages & Letters. She is a working artist whose teaching is driven by a concept of embodied cognition: that while mind connects with body, body influences mind, and by integrating the complementary pedagogies of both Taiwan and the U.S. Kao focuses on improvisational practice through movement rather than improvising with codified dance steps. This expands the inclusivity of her classes to anyone interested in exploring movement, and no previous dance experience is needed. Students then create unique and meaningful choreographies that go beyond entertaining and showcasing. They report that her “no mirror” classes truly liberate them to take risks and become aware of their space. Depending on the energy flow and responses she receives from students, she determines how to honor the original intentions of her materials while making in-the-moment changes to engage her students to develop movement and performance skills of mindfulness, clarity, articulation and subtlety. A colleague credits her with significantly elevating the artistic level of the department’s student dance performances.
Kyra Anne Len
Kyra Anne Len is an associate professor of medical education and pediatrics at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Len motivates and challenges students and residents to learn to care for patients, rather than merely treating ailments. The launching of a new learning community curriculum provides an opportunity for deeper conversations among students, many who give testimony to having changed their field of practice entirely due to Len’s influence as their teacher and mentor. She diversifies the content and approach within each week to include presentations and seminars, workshops and bedside teaching with patients involved. Beyond that, a colleague credits her with transforming the department through her many contributions. She has led innovative curriculum initiatives adopted by JABSOM and nationally, including a boot-camp for fourth year students and a “point-of-care” tool for pediatric diagnosis now available on phones. A colleague sees Len as creating an environment that is growing clinically competent, culturally sensitive, professional leaders committed to serving their communities.
Bridget Smith-Konter is a professor of geophysics in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. She is masterful at connecting with students of all academic interests, abilities, learning styles and personal backgrounds. Her classes mix lectures with interactive Q&A sessions highlighted with stunning still or animated imagery, and punctuated with short videos and group activities. One student said “most noteworthy, she makes us feel like a valuable addition to a research team and as a human being in her life.” Outside the classroom, “her contributions and influence on STEM education is truly extraordinary and may well be unmatched.” She leads by example and brings her heart into all her university and community projects. Her endeavors to “make Earth science accessible to underrepresented groups including Native Hawaiians are pertinent to an enriched and sustainable livelihood within Hawaiʻi.” It is a testament to her quality as an educator that she can communicate scientific principles to a diverse group of people, effectively tailoring information and learning from her audience in return.
Wei Zhang is a professor in the Department of Sociology in the College of Social Sciences. Students describe her as an “inspiring professor” who “radiates genuine positivity and optimism that undeniably motivates us to cultivate our curiosity for learning and empowers us to aspire to attain our potential.” Zhang views teaching as an adaptive process in response to constantly changing environments such as a pandemic or technological innovations, as well as students’ needs and interests. Her colleagues hold her in very high esteem, one stating that she is a pillar of the department. Undergraduate students in her class make tremendous transformations from dreading statistics and formulas to finding she makes social statistics interesting and attainable. Graduate students develop into co-presenters and co-authors with Zhang. In the words of one deeply grateful student, “This is the first time in a long time that I remembered how much fun I have learning and why I keep going to school.”
Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research
The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research is awarded by the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents in recognition of scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community.
Brian N. Popp
Brian N. Popp is a professor of Earth sciences in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. He joined the UH Mānoa faculty in 1990 and is best known for his contributions to the field of stable isotope biogeochemistry. He published a landmark series of papers on the fractionation of carbon isotopes by marine microalgae, which allowed estimates of ancient atmospheric CO2 levels. These results led to honors, including the Geochemical Society Best Paper of the Year award and his election as a Geochemistry Fellow within the European Association of Geochemistry and the Geochemical Society. Popp contributed significantly to the demonstration that archaea are largely responsible for ammonia oxidation in the marine environment and that rates of archaeal ammonia oxidation are sensitive to small changes in ocean pH that will occur in a future acidifying ocean. His high productivity and impact are demonstrated by his more than 165 papers in international peer-reviewed journals. His career publications have amassed more than 15,000 citations.
Rui Sun is an assistant professor of chemistry at the College of Natural Sciences. Sun’s research focuses on developing computational models and simulations to tackle chemical and biophysical problems that are outstanding challenges to human health and the environment. Such efforts include unraveling mechanisms of atmospheric chemical reactions, designing alternative ionic liquid fuels, investigating next-generation energetic materials, and understanding the role that cell membranes play in various diseases, to name a few. As an early career scientist, Sun has published 40 peer-reviewed scientific literature, some of which have been reported by news outlets such as Vice, Nature and Chemical & Engineering News. Currently supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and Eli Lilly and Company, Sun has received research grants totaling nearly $2 million since joining UH Mānoa in the fall of 2017. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2022.
Xudong Sun is an assistant astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy. His research is centered on the solar magnetic fields, with an extension to other low-mass stars. Magnetic fields play a fundamental role in regulating the dynamic plasma processes such as flares and coronal mass ejections; they can significantly influence near-Earth space weather as well as exoplanetary habitability. He is currently leading a collaborative National Science Foundation project to develop deep learning data-analysis models for the new Inouye Solar Telescope on Haleakalā. Sun is a recipient of the 2019 NSF CAREER Award, a science working group member for the Inouye Solar Telescope, and a science team member of the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. He earned a PhD in physics from Stanford University, and a BS degree in Earth and space sciences from the University of Science and Technology of China.
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 the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for 19 years.
Justin Walguarnery is an assistant professor of biology in the School of Life Sciences. He has rarely had a semester where he felt he could do what had been done before. “Science by its very nature necessarily entails doing what has never been done and always exceeding your previous understanding, so it’s only ever made sense to me to do the same in my teaching of science.” To bridge practice to theory, he is acquiring courses in a third graduate degree in Educational Psychology in areas of cultural influences, cognition and qualitative research methods. He meets his students as equals with full respect of where they’ve come from and where they are going. In the words of one student, “There was an inherent freedom of thought and the support and implementation to actually make it work.” Walguarnery’s hands-on lab course taught throughout the pandemic “resulted in the highest exam averages ever with half the time in lab under COVID conditions without reducing course content or compromising high standards.”
Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for Graduate Teaching Assistants
Hoa Le is a PhD candidate in the Second Language Studies Department in the College of Arts, Languages & Letters. During the past two years, she has taught undergraduate classes in the Vietnamese language program where she developed new, innovative syllabi and course material that served the diverse and real-world needs of her students. She believes education, and language teaching in particular, should aim to contribute to modern society, which is rooted in rounded, open and well-developed educational concepts. Importantly, it should place the learners at the center of education, educating the whole person, and promote mutual aid and cooperation in the classroom. When teaching online, Le put extra effort to take advantage of technology making her lessons engaging and motivating. Her students have expressed that they really enjoyed and were delighted learning this tonal language and connecting to its culture, while putting what they learned into real-world practice.
Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service
The Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service recognizes a University of Hawaiʻi at 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 UH Mānoa College of Education Professor Robert Clopton and first awarded in 1977.
Denise Antolini is a professor in the William S. Richardson School of Law. For decades, Antolini has tirelessly contributed to the legal sphere in the name of conservation and environmental justice. She inspires, influences and provides tools and opportunities for generations of environmental attorneys to protect the natural resources of Hawaiʻi and the communities that depend on them. Her impressive litigation career has had significant impacts in the community by empowering and supporting branches of state government, enabling the state to more effectively play its role in the conservation of the natural and cultural resources of Hawaiʻi. Under her leadership, organizations such as Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea have grown into successful, resilient, active, relevant and informed community organizations, forming partnerships with government agencies, community groups and individuals to advance environmental science, cultural knowledge and the entire community. Antolini is equally active on the international stage, ensuring that conservation efforts around the globe are aligned in the legal realm. In the words of her colleagues, she is a “woman of the world within the context of our worldwide climate crisis.”
Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching
The Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching recognizes University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty members who have made significant contributions to teaching and student learning.
Jennifer Blackwell is an assistant professor in the Department of Music in the College of Arts, Languages & Letters. She employs problem-based learning in teaching her students in the music education program, who will become music teachers themselves. They benefit from developing flexible knowledge, problem-solving skills, student-driven learning and collaboration and experience an intrinsic motivation for learning. Blackwell’s colleagues recognize that her “research serves as a bridge between the pedagogical and theoretical concerns of contemporary music educators and performers.” She is well known for her stimulating lectures and hands-on approach to all her students. One student preparing to enter the teaching profession expressed, “As educators, we know all great teachers lead by example. More than modeling fantastic pedagogy and refined scaffolding, Professor Blackwell consistently models how to be an empathetic human being––and we are all the better for it.” A former student who now teaches at a local high school said, “almost everything I know and use on a daily basis came from one single class I took from Dr. Blackwell.”
Marguerite Butler is a professor in the Department of Biology in the School of Life Sciences. Her teachings demonstrate how small gains in skills translate into meaningful advances in scientific accomplishment. Butler encourages students to embrace abstraction, reasoning and critical evaluation of ideas. Rather than featuring exams, a long-term practice in her lecture courses has been the infusion of authentic research, a practice more recently and widely formalized as CURE: a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience. Students report: “Professor Butler asked us to question everything, to find the beauty and wonder in the most simple of biological systems.” And “I would seek to amaze her.” Students work on independently created projects, and individual discoveries are followed by collaborative, community-building discussions. “Good teachers exude the love they have for the subject they teach, to offer students an opportunity to fall in love with the subject as they have, as Dr. Butler has done so beautifully.”
Stephanie Furuta is an associate specialist in the Institute for Teacher Education in the College of Education. She believes mentoring and teaching go hand-in-hand in her role with pre-service and in-service teachers. Her theoretical approaches align with Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory, with the tenet that learners are greatly influenced by their environment and social interactions. “Dr. Furuta is dedicated, passionate, a natural leader, always seeking new knowledge. Her student-centered, hands-on approach rendered memorable field experiences that helped me improve my own teaching practices,” noted a student. Another stated, “I would describe her pedagogy as invigorating, rigorous and relevant. I became a divergent thinker, able to broaden my perspectives on topics impacting education.” Furuta is sensitive to cultural aspects in education, offering support to diverse communities of learners by assisting them in seeing the larger picture while respecting the communities in which they work. “Professor Furuta’s courses led me to deeply reflect on who I am as a teacher and what my goals are to reignite my passion for teaching.”
Scott Lozanoff is a professor in the Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). He is a creative teacher who exudes a passion for teaching and has been applying novel principles to teaching medical students prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic affected Oʻahu, he leveraged his knowledge and skill to anatomy, a subject that relies heavily on spatial relations between organs and tissues. Lozanoff leads by example by respecting the generous body donors to the Willed Body Program who serve as silent teachers to students at JABSOM. He generated 3D models so that all medical students were able to benefit from cadaver dissection through online lab sessions and taped lectures. This was necessary as COVID-19 rushed the implementation of his innovations in anatomical imagery to accompany case studies that contributed to the education of medical school students who expressed that Lozanoff’s visionary methods should be used outside of pandemic conditions.
Seungoh Paek is an associate professor of the Department of Learning Design and Technology in the College of Education. The overlap between what she researches and teaches provides opportunities to apply scholarship to her teaching practices. Students come to her courses with considerable real-world experience in her field, so Paek employed a studio-based approach with rigorous hands-on experience. As an instructor, she varies her role between being teacher, consultant, expert and client to evoke an authentic learning experience. “I not only learned instructional design, but professional representation as an instructional designer.” Paek’s relationship with students has made her highly sought for 45 dissertation committees. Her colleagues and students express that “Dr. Paek has the rare ability to intellectually stimulate and challenge her students while creating an environment that makes them feel capable, supported and safe. She invests fully in advancing students’ accomplishments, and her enthusiasm for their achievements nurtures growth and self-confidence.” Colleagues who taught core courses redesigned by her are “thrilled with students’ increased depth of knowledge and ability.”
Philip Williams is a professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences. He believes that students finding their passion for life-long learning and intellectual curiosity lies at the heart of the role of a university. Williams strives to show students the beauty in chemistry through a recognition that his most influential lectures are often the result of errors made by students or by himself. This catalyzed a shift in his teaching to a more fluid lecture mode, to exploring worthwhile tangents with students to generate creativity and refined critical thinking to meet chemistry’s intellectual challenge.“Dr. Williams caused a paradigm shift in my perception of what attending a university as a student meant.” A former international student, now a professor herself, expressed that she has not encountered a teacher, advisor or mentor, more devoted to his students in her entire academic life. Colleagues express that Williams teaches courses viewed as “necessary evils,” and performs the rare, remarkable feat of turning the experience into successfully creating community.
Presidential Award for Outstanding Service
The Presidential Award for Outstanding Service honors a UH Mānoa staff member who demonstrates outstanding work performance, service and leadership.
Administrative, Professional, and Technical
Kenton Harsch is the director in the English Language Institute and the BA coordinator in the Department of Second Language Studies in the College of Arts, Languages & Letters. In this dual role, he helps international students with academic English support needs and serves as lead advisor and chief administrator for the department’s BA program, which he helped to develop and expand to more than 60 majors. With graciousness, humor and positivity, he has been described as a leader, teacher, researcher, counselor and mentor, juggling multiple areas with remarkable human heartedness, efficiency, attention to detail and professionalism. Harsch is a supportive advisor, guiding students through their academic journey, and in some cases, turmoil – especially during the pandemic years. He has been able to defuse problems while encouraging students to find their own paths socially and academically. He epitomizes the concept of outstanding academic service and is described as a “gem” as he has positively impacted hundreds of students, advisors, teachers and colleagues.
Buildings and Grounds Management
Herman Ayers is a janitor in Buildings and Grounds Management assigned to the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics (HIG) building. He is described as hardworking, highly responsible and humble — a professional who takes pride in his work and cares about his fellow employees. His character and quality shine in urgent and unexpected situations, such as dealing with toilet leaks for an old building or assisting colleagues with carrying trash bags down numerous stairs. He is patient and a team player, and ensured cleaning tasks were on schedule during the pandemic. His diligence and dedication provide a peace of mind that offices, restrooms, classrooms, elevators, handrails, and more are clean, allowing others to focus on their assigned responsibilities. During the pandemic, Ayers took on additional responsibilities; he would disinfect all areas knowing that this kept his building community as clean and safe as possible as HIG is a “second home” to many employees. His positive, infectious attitude, strong work ethic and humility is an inspiration to others.
Tyler Kitagawa is a janitor in Buildings and Grounds Management assigned to Student Health Services. He is recognized for providing outstanding service to the team and its facilities, including the waiting and patient rooms, laboratory and offices. He creates a clean and safe environment for employees and patients, anticipating hazards or maintenance, and ensuring the environment is up to the unit’s standards. He always has a polite, friendly greeting to everyone, and makes people smile. Given the nature of the unit, Kitagawa is held to higher standards. He receives HIPAA training and organizes work to provide patients privacy and a pleasant environment. He has become a partner with their team in providing feedback for future maintenance and improvements for the facility. With the pandemic, Kitagawa quickly adapted to new safety and cleaning protocols, which allowed the health team to focus on supporting UH and its community on their COVID-19 response. He is considered an integral part of the team and contributes to the success of the department in serving the campus.
Steven Labrash is the director of the Willed Body Program and assistant specialist with the Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology in the John A. Burns School of Medicine. The Willed Body Program allows medical students and healthcare professionals to gain valuable information and skills as a result of selfless body donation. Labrash treats donors and their families with the utmost respect and dignity, organizes the annual memorial service and engages medical students with the community and families of those “silent teachers” who taught them at the gross anatomy course. He established effective relationships with Hawaiʻi hospitals, senior center and hospice groups, and high schools. His efforts provide teaching opportunities for students and the community. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his expertise in integrating education and research aspects with the community, while supporting loved ones. Labrash exemplifies kindness, compassion and leadership in end-of-life issues while contributing to the mission of medical education. His exemplary work reflects his deep commitment to serve our institutional goals and advance this field.
Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award
The Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award from the University of Hawaiʻi at 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 Agbayani’s lifetime commitment to diversity and social justice in Hawaiʻi. For more than 40 years, she served as the founder and director of the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity.
E. Brook Chapman de Sousa
Brook Chapman de Sousa is an associate professor in the Institute for Teacher Education (Elementary) at the College of Education. She is a former elementary school teacher having taught in Colorado, Brazil and Hawaiʻi. Her work focuses on multilingualism and education, which has been crucial to the development of the Board of Education’s Multilingualism for Equitable Education (BOE Policy 105.14). In addition to this work, Chapman de Sousa has played an integral role in recruiting, retaining and graduating linguistically and culturally diverse teacher candidates. Her work also focuses on access and support systems for students at the College of Education who are representative of the cultures and languages in Hawaiʻi.
Peter V. Garrod Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award
Established by the University of Hawaiʻi 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.
Henrietta Dulai is a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and graduate chair in the Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) Graduate Program at the School of Ocean Earth Science and Technology. Her research program addresses pressing issues such as groundwater pollution and its effects on the sustainability of water resources and coastal environments, environmental radionuclide contamination, and application of chemical tracers to study the environmental impact of high population density, sea-level rise and climate change. Dulai is passionate about advising graduate students and supports their enthusiasm for research and scientific progress. She has advised nine MS students, three of whom continued on to a PhD track with her, and served on additional 15 PhD dissertation committees including 10 PhD comprehensive exam committees. The graduate students she worked with are lead or co-authors on 25 peer-reviewed publications. Dulai contributes to the efforts transforming academia into a more inclusive and diverse space, by fostering an inclusive and respectful atmosphere in the EPS graduate program.
Outstanding Academic Advisor 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 Advisor Award
Jill Nakatsu is the director of academic affairs in the College of Engineering. She oversees advising for roughly 1,200 engineering and pre-engineering majors at UH Mānoa. For two years, she operated as the only academic advisor in the college due to retirements and the loss of several positions during the pandemic. She has created (and regularly updates) freshman and transfer-student guides and has developed training materials and workshops for department faculty advisors and engineering student ambassadors as well. Nakatsu is responsible for evaluating applications from prospective students, approximately 1,200 per year, and for conducting graduation checks for all graduating seniors. In addition to her advising work, Nakatsu regularly assists with developing new programs, most recently helping to create the Engineering Science program and a new concentration in ocean engineering (still in progress). She has collaborated with Chaminade University of Honolulu to implement the Office of Naval Research Engineering Success in STEM Project, a partnership with multiple Hawaiʻi Department of Education high schools to train teachers and increase high school students’ access to engineering/STEM courses. Nakatsu was honored with the College of Engineering Faculty Service Award in 2020.
Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research & Creative Work
The Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research and Creative Work was created in 2020 by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The award recognizes up to two tenured/tenure-track faculty mentors each academic year (one from a STEM discipline, and one from a non-STEM discipline) who have shown dedicated and sustained excellence in faculty mentoring of undergraduate students in their research and creative work endeavors.
Tyler Ray is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. He seeks to inspire, teach and mentor the incredible undergraduate students at UH Mānoa through independent research. Based upon a core foundation of mutual trust, he strives to empower students by fostering a mindset of scientific discovery. Ray launched a unique, highly interdisciplinary research program that incorporates mechanical / biomedical engineering, materials science and analytical chemistry to develop soft, flexible electronic and microfluidic devices that form intimate interfaces with the epidermis for monitoring the physiological health status of an individual. He uses his research as a powerful means to train students to become thoughtful, creative engineers poised to be thought leaders in their respective fields. In his short time at UH, he has trained (or is training) 12 undergraduates in addition to starting a highly successful Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) bioprinting team, which placed first in the VIP poster competition within its first year of existence.
Stephanie “Lani” Teves
Stephanie Nohelani Teves is an associate professor and chair of the department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). She teaches courses in LGBTQ histories, queer theory and Indigenous feminisms. As advisor and now chair of WGSS, Teves led the effort to create an undergraduate certificate in Queer Studies which launched in fall 2022. Her mentoring philosophy is to model for students what accountable research looks like. Teves believes transparency and consistency are key components of responsible knowledge production. She works to dispel many of the myths of research and academia that focuses on results rather than the process of research or creativity. She believes it’s imperative to demystify the processes of research to make academia more accessible, accountable, and possible for multiple communities. Teves is author of Defiant Indigeneity: The Politics of Hawaiian Performance and co-editor of Native Studies Keywords. Her current research focuses on the transformation of “sexuality” in Hawaiʻi from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. She is also the principal investigator of the LGBT+ Kupuna Oral History Project.
Student Excellence in Research Award
The Student Excellence in Research Award is given 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.
Ashley Chontos is a PhD candidate in the UH Institute for Astronomy. She joined the graduate program in 2016. Her research focuses on the study of stars and planets in our galaxy, combining observations from the Keck Observatory on Maunakea with data from NASA space telescopes. Chontos has written four first-author publications to date, including the study of sound waves to characterize stars and the planets that orbit them, as well as leading the target selection for one of the largest ground-based observing programs of planet-hosting stars from the NASA TESS Mission. Her research earned her the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship in 2018, an ARCS Scholar award in 2019, the Princeton University Henry Norris Russell Fellowship in 2022, as well as several talks at international conferences. Chontos has also been recognized for supporting numerous public outreach programs in the state of Hawaiʻi through several outreach awards.
Samantha Keaulana-Scott is a public health PhD candidate in the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health. Her research focuses on examining determinants of Wāhine (Native Hawaiian women) health to demonstrate the relationships between structures of power and individual health. Her dissertation research utilizes Indigenous research methodologies to document the experiences of historical and intergenerational trauma among Wāhine. With her findings, she will develop measurement tools that have the ability to reveal concrete data and communicate the urgency of health and social needs unique to Wāhine. Keaulana-Scott is a strong proponent of pono (just) research and is a member of the Waimānalo Pono Research Hui, a group that adheres to Indigenous community research ethics. Her collaborative work with communities earned her several awards, including the Koseki Award for Excellence in Community Service, the Pauline Stitt Outstanding Student in Public Health Award, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars fellowship. Her long-term goal is to prevent inequitable opportunities of optimal health by demanding aloha, healing, and reparations for Hawaiians.
Geetika Patwardhan is a senior Honors student majoring in molecular cell biology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. She has been doing biomedical research since her freshman year. Patwardhan’s research is focused on identifying new molecular mechanisms in neurons that regulate the production of amyloid-beta, a peptide that accumulates as plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Patwardhan has mastered a large variety of advanced cell and molecular biology techniques and generated unique neuronal cell models. She has made several key discoveries, including characterization of a new signaling pathway by which insulin directly affects amyloid-beta production in neurons. She received the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and is co-author on several manuscripts. After graduation, Patwardhan will continue her training in a top neuroscience lab on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland in the two-year Intramural Research Training Award program. Her long-term career goal is to become a physician-scientist in Hawaiʻi, helping to translate research advances to improvements in patient care.
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.
Herman Lau is a student assistant in the General Education Office. A senior majoring in environmental design in the School of Architecture, Lau has worked in the General Education Office for more than three years. An incredibly reliable employee, he has played an integral part in all major projects the office has undertaken. From the transformation of office space to archiving decades of files, his efforts and reliability were key. When COVID-19 hit and the office began teleworking, Lau worked with two other employees to convert their entire process of paper proposals to a completely electronic submission and tracking system. In so many ways, Lau contributes to the General Education Office with his unique combination of motivation and sincere humility. Lau is also the 2022 Hawaiʻi State Winner of the Western Association of Student Employment Administrators.