ARCS Scholar of the Year Ruthsenne Perron

Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation Honolulu Chapter’s latest Scholar of the Year is an engineer working on a better way to monitor fluid in patients’ lungs. Ruthsenne Perron is one of nine University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa doctoral students who were recently named ARCS Scholars for research that ranges from understanding probiotic bacteria in Hawaiian coral to detecting dark matter in an Italian mountain.

Perron, a graduate of Waipahu High School and the UH Mānoa College of Engineering, also received ARCS’ Bretzlaff Foundation Award in engineering for her work to develop a wearable, textile-based vital signs sensor that can be read in real time on mobile devices as part of the Hawaiʻi Center for Advanced Communications cardio-pulmonary (CP)-Stethoscope team.

Measuring water in the lungs is important for early detection of heart failure and monitoring of pulmonary diseases, sepsis, burns and dehydration, but current methods are wanting. Daily weighing of the patient is unreliable, catheterization is invasive, CT-scans are expensive, and implants are inaccurate. The CP Stethoscope, uses microwaves for the task. The device is in clinical trials at Queen’s Medical Center. It was named Best of Show by the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Program and the developers won UH’s 2014 Business Plan Competition.

Perron will present her work at an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers international meeting in Vancouver later this month. Her $6,000 in ARCS Scholar awards will cover travel expenses. The other 2015 ARCS Scholars receive $5,000 in unrestricted grants, which they plan to use for research equipment, computers and other expenses related to their doctoral studies.

Gen Del Raye, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (Oceanography), predicts that climate change will create dual pressures on economically important yellowfin tuna. His research suggests that depleted oxygen in deeper water will reduce and drive prey closer to the surface, leading ahi to spend more time in shallower water were they are more vulnerable to fishers. He was born in Kyoto and earned a BS and MS from Stanford University. He received the Helen Jones Farrar Award in Oceanography.

Erin Edkins, College of Natural Sciences (Physics and Astronomy), is working to improve detection of false signals in the search for dark matter. By ruling out neutron signals, the California native hopes to contribute to detection of the hypothesized constituents of dark matter known as weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPS. She received the Sarah Ann Martin Award in Physics.

Gregory Fredericks, John A Burns School of Medicine, has published his work on a particular selenoprotein in the Journal of Immunology. While other selenoproteins are involved in antioxidant activity, Frederick’s studies with mice indicate that one, called selK, helps trigger a cell’s immune response. The former Army intelligence and medical corps officer will next explore selK’s role in immune-driven atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. He received the Ellen M. Koenig Foundation Award in Medicine.

Jonatha Giddens, College of Natural Sciences (Biology), is using a Social-Ecological Systems framework and conducting a predator removal study off Puako involving invasive peacock groupers (roi). She studies reef fish populations and identifies social attributes that drive community willingness to participate in conservation action and ocean stewardship. The UH Hilo graduate received the Maybelle Roth Award in Conservation Biology.

Gui Chao Huang, College of Engineering, is developing a high-performance, low-cost antenna array system to increase the range, capacity and reliability of mobile networks. The Roosevelt High School graduate helped design, build and test a prototype array that could improve communication delivery in rural areas and difficult terrains. He received the Shelagh Kresser Award in Engineering.

Nicholas Lee, Institute for Astronomy, uses far-infrared observations from the Herschel Space Observatory to study star formation. He has discovered that massive galaxies are less efficient at star formation. The California native and UC Berkeley alumnus will pursue the mechanism that quenches star formation in a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Copenhagen. He received the Columbia Communications Award in Astronomy.

Cindy Stein, School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, studies the impact of women’s experiences and perception of health on their decisions about maternity care. A single mother of four, certified nurse-midwife and director of Global Programs for Real Medicine Foundation, Stein has worked in areas of Africa that have high numbers of preventable pregnancy-related deaths. She wants to see if Respectful Maternity Care training can improve outcomes in Hawaiʻi and other places as well. She received the ARCS Foundation Honolulu Award in Nursing.

Blake Ushijima, College of Natural Sciences (Microbiology), studies a kind of chemical warfare in the mucus layer of coral. One bacterial pathogen creates its own antibiotic to eliminate resident bacteria so that it can infect coral. The Mid-Pacific Institute graduate has demonstrated that probiotic bacteria in the mucus layer can also produce antibiotics, protecting the coral from infection. He received the Sarah Ann Martin Award in Microbiology.

About ARCS Foundation

A national philanthropic organization with chapters in 17 cities, ARCS Foundation works to advance science in America by supporting United States citizens pursuing graduate work in the sciences, engineering, mathematics and health fields. Since its founding in 1974, the Honolulu Chapter has distributed more than $2 million to more than 600 doctoral students at the University of Hawaiʻi.