Tropical Biology Grant Awarded To UH Hilo
students examing tree

Students in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science program. (Photo courtesy of UH Hilo)

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program received $2 million from the National Science Foundation’s Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology program as part of years four and five of the CREST Center in Tropical Ecology and Evolution in Marine and Terrestrial Environments project.

UH Hilo’s CREST program includes three research teams—Associate Professor Elizabeth Stacy leads the Evolutionary Genomics and Ecology of Local Adaptation and Speciation team, Associate Professor Misaki Takabayashi leads the Coral Reef Ecosystem team and Associate Professor Patrick Hart heads the Terrestrial Ecology and Climate Change team.

“The EGES team will work to understand how native plants, animals and fungi respond to environmental change over the short term through gene expression changes, and over the long term through the formation of new species,” TCBES Director Donald Price explains.

The CRE team will focus on links between water quality and the health of corals and coral reef food-web along Hawaiʻi Island’s coastlines, and the TECC team will use the dramatic environmental gradients on Hawaiʻi Island as a model system to further understand the long-term impacts of climate change on forest dynamics, bird and plant community structure and species interactions.”

The teams engage students in challenging field and laboratory research as well as ensure that the students present their results at both local and national scientific conferences.

“Through NSF CREST funding, this campus is enabling our faculty to improve their research prowess as well as their mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students,” Price added. “We continue to engage our students in rigorous research studies as a means to broaden their experience in the sciences and technology.”

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