UROP is honored to present the Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship to outstanding undergraduate students, enrolled in any field of study, who are engaged in research and creative work initiatives. The scholarship was established with a generous endowment from the estate of Paul T. Yamamura, in order to support scholarly research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Each semester, UROP considers all project funding applicants for the Yamamura Scholarship and selects the best STEM, and the best non-STEM student or student group each alternating semester to receive the Scholarship. In an effort to support continued education of local students, a preference is shown to undergraduate students who have graduated from high school in Hawai‘i.
Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship Recipients
Rie Tsuchida & Komaki Kakinuma
Travel Industry Management & Management Information Systems
The Fall 2023 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipients for a STEM project are a pair of students: Rie Tsuchida and Komaki Kakinuma. Their project, “Regenerative Tourism: Conscious survey on Japanese tourists’ awareness and perception of “Malama”” dives into how The Hawaii Tourism Authority is promoting “Malama” for regenerative tourism, but there is no quantitative data on its spread among tourists. To determine its extent, surveys will be conducted in Oahu and other islands. The objective is to quantify the world’s penetration rate. While it is being promoted, the community has not yet heard of it, which may only be a subjective feeling. Surveys will provide essential insights into its effectiveness, particularly in Japan, one of Hawaii’s largest tourism markets. Data collected will refine PR strategies for promoting sustainable tourism. Rie and Komaki are mentored by Dr. Yang Xu.
“Hawaii, renowned as one of the world’s most popular destinations, holds within its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture a delicate balance that must be safeguarded. The preservation of its environment, culture, and people is of utmost importance. We hope this research contributes to conserve environment, culture and people in Hawaii.” – Rie Tsuchida
“I hope this research will review the promotion of “Malama” in Hawaii and achieve true sustainable tourism in all aspects of environment, culture, local communities, and society.” – Komaki Kakinuma
The Spring 2023 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a STEM project is Stryder Williams. His project, entitled “Developing Emulsions for Kavalactone Stabilization in Locally Grown Kava,” is centralized around Kava. Kava is a medicinal plant from the Pacific that has the ability to treat anxiety, insomnia, and a variety of other ailments. However, its primary bioactive compounds, the kavalactones, have low bioavailability due to their insolubility in water which prevents them from being absorbed within the digestive system. In order to increase the water solubility of
kavalactones, and thus their bioavailability, this project intends to test the ability of various surfactants to stabilize a colloidal system consisting of kava root powder and water. Stryder graduated from Waialua High School and now studies Biology at UH Mānoa and is mentored by Professor Kacie Ho.
“By testing the ability of different surfactants to stabilize kava colloidal systems, this project has the potential to improve the bioavailability of kava and thus its efficacy for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. This has always been important to me as a Native Hawaiian as I have always wanted to expand the knowledge that is currently available on a traditional Hawaiian healing herb under the context of modern science.” – Stryder Williams
The Fall 2022 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a STEM project is Jared Sloan. His project, entitled “Sequence Adaptation in Various Environment Across Organisms: Similar Yet Different Superoxide Dismutase,” covers superoxide dismutase (SOD) proteins across species, and how they have diverse metal cofactors. Jared shares that the Mycobacterium tuberculosis SOD protein is unique in that it lacks a Zinc binding site and hopes his research will reveal the importance that these metals play in protein folding and function. Jared is mentored by Dr. Ellinor Haglund from the Department of Chemistry.
“Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease which degrades the nerve cells responsible for voluntary muscle movement. Various research has shown that a mutated hSOD1 protein can lead to ALS. Characterization of the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis SOD, a homolog of hSOD1 protein which lacks the Zinc-binding site, will provide a novel perspective on how the metal impacts the protein’s folding and function.” – Jared Sloan
Mac Alasdair Uchimura
For Spring 2022, the Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a non-STEM project was MacAlasdair Uchimura (Major in Classics). Mac’s project, entitled “Pierian Fire: Ancient Epic, Modern Music”, is a concept for a musical interpretation of Statius’ Thebaid, which is a Latin epic written around 80 to 90 AD. The musical will deal with interpersonal relationships, nefas (impiety), furor (rage), and fate. Modern music (mostly rock and pop) as well as costume and set sketches will help modern audiences engage with Statius’ narrative. Mac was mentored by Dr. Daniel E. Harris-McCoy, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religions and Ancient Civilizations.
“With his musical interpretation of Statius’ Thebaid titled “Pierian Fire: Ancient Epic, Modern Music,” Mac hopes “the script and lyrics will breathe new life into ancient words.” – MacAlasdair Uchimura
Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology
The Fall 2021 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship receipt for a STEM project is Lauryn Liao, a Hawaiʻi Baptist Academy graduate. Her project, entitled “PEA-15 as a Therapeutic Target in Melanoma” aims to identify how a protein (phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes or PEA-15) contributes to cancer cell survival and proliferation. Through her research, Liao has identified a new protein that is important in melanoma development and is determining if it can be useful in the development of new treatments or diagnostics to improve survival from the most aggressive forms of melanoma. Liao is mentored by Dr. Joe W. Ramos.
“Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has demonstrated significant dependence on PEA-15, but it is unclear why or how this occurs. We hope this research contributes to the development of more effective therapeutic treatments for melanoma and offers insight into the role of PEA-15 in other cancers.” – Lauryn Liao
The Summer 2021 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a non-STEM project is Sarah Hamid. Her project, entitled “Reproductive Health During the Territorial Period of Hawaiʻi,” seeks to examine archival medical journals, records, and material to better understand the context of reproductive health during the Territorial period of Hawaiʻi. Sarah is mentored by Dr. Stephanie Teves.
“By examining these records, the context of reproductive health will be further examined and situated in the context of US colonialism and occupation of Hawaiʻi during the territorial period.” – Sarah Hamid
Katlyn An & Ashley Hanato
Biochemistry & Molecular Cell Biology
The Spring 2021 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipients for a STEM project are a student group consisting of Katlyn An, a Pearl City High School graduate, and Ashley Hanato who graduated from Konawaena High School. Their project entitled “Investigating the interactions between selenium and glucocorticoids in a murine hypothalamic cell line” explores the functions and mechanisms involved with the regulation of antioxidant proteins in neurons treated with glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones that are part of the body’s natural stress response, but when present at chronically high levels they can also have negative side effects. Looking at selenium’s interactions with glucocorticoids may be the key to reducing the negative effects of high levels of the hormone. Katlyn and Ashley are mentored by Dr. Marla J. Berry.
“The essential nutrient selenium, known for its antioxidant capabilities and importance to brain function, may help protect against the repercussions of chronic glucocorticoid levels in the body.”
– Katlyn An
“An understanding of glucocorticoids interaction with antioxidant nutrient, selenium, will lead to a deeper understanding of the negative effects and may be used to develop strategies to alleviate these side effects.”
– Ashley Hanato
The Fall 2020 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a non-STEM project is Sarah Igarashi. Sarah’s project entitled “Queering the Abstract Figure: Ambiguous Bodies in the Art Work of Christina Quarles,” will examine Quarles’ work, which uses biomorphic abstraction to explore themes of identity, through both queer theory and art historical lenses. In order to fully research this work. Sarah plans to travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago to view their upcoming exhibition, which is entitled Christina Quarles. Sarah graduated from Mililani High School and now studies Art History at UH Mānoa and is mentored by Professor Jaimey Hamilton Faris.
“By exploring ways in which these societal actors define and disrupt barriers and categories in visual representations of the body, I hope to bring to light an emerging conversation about the productivity and limitations of representational strategies of gender and identity fluidity in contemporary painting.” – Sarah
The Spring 2020 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a STEM project is Lauren Block. Lauren’s project entitled “Optimizing Larval Fish Rearing with Copepods,” will develop a system to care for larval reef fish for marine aquariums, specifically focusing on clownfish as a model organism. Lauren studies Marine Biology at UH Mānoa and is mentored by Dr. Daniel Hartline.
The Fall 2019 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a STEM project is Jennifer Yokoyama. Her project, “The effect of coffee on adipocytokines in relation to Type 2 Diabetes,” explores the relationship between coffee and adipocytokines, chemical signals created by adipose (fat) tissue. In recent studies, coffee has been linked to decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, but the mechanism in which it works is unknown. Jennifer studies Biology and is mentored by Dr. Pratibha Nerurkar. Jennifer is a graduate of Kealakehe High School on Hawai‘i.
“Regulating levels of adipocytokines in the body may be a possible way coffee decreases Type 2 diabetes risk, and if this is true, it may serve as a preventative method for Type 2 diabetes.” – Jennifer
The Summer 2019 Douglas S. Yamamura Scholarship recipient for a non-STEM project is Camryn Shiroma. Her project, “Classical culture in Hawaiian education (1778 – 1893),” examines the impact of classical culture on Hawaiian society from the first arrival of Europeans in 1778, through the end of the Monarchy in 1893. Camryn studies Classics at UH Mānoa and is mentored by Dr. Daniel Harris-McCoy. Camryn is a graduate of Mililani High School on O‘ahu.
“This is a huge step for me in my lifetime goal of conducting scholarly research and working in academia.” – Camryn