University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo student Kaycee “Nahe” Kawano received a prestigious summer scholar award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to continue her work on a substance use prevention research project.
The 2005 Molokaʻi High School graduate joined the project as an undergraduate researcher in 2007 and was co-author on a recently published article in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Community Health Partnerships.
She works with John A. Burns School of Medicine Professor Susana Helm and project principal investigator Scott Okamoto, of Hawaiʻi Pacific University. Their project investigates ecological factors in drug use among Native Hawaiian youth on the Big Island.
The NIDA research award is designed to recruit highly qualified minority students into the field of substance use prevention and treatment by connecting them with NIDA-funded researchers and research projects in their area of interest.
Increasing research opportunities among underrepresented students is critical to the quality of work produced in the scientific community, researchers say. The contributions of young Native Hawaiian scholars like Kawano expand the cultural integrity of substance use prevention efforts with Native Hawaiian middle school age adolescents.
Kawano is on track to earn her bachelor’s degree in psychology and certificate in basic Hawaiian culture from UH Hilo in 2010.