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From left, Michael Guidry, Kammie-Dominique Tavares, McKenna Lewis, Diana Lopera, Andrew Tokuda and Cuong Tran. (Photo courtesy of SOEST)

Five undergraduate students in the Global Environmental Science Program in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) have been awarded scholarships from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship or Educational Partnership Program.

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa seniors McKenna Lewis and Kammie-Dominique Tavares, rising senior Cuong Tran, and rising juniors Diana Lopera and Andrew Tokuda are the honored recipients of these highly competitive awards that provide up to $45,000 in total support per student for tuition assistance, a paid summer research experience at a NOAA facility and travel funds to attend conferences to present research findings.

“This is quite an unusual situation to have five awardees in the same academic program at one time,” said Michael Guidry, global environmental science chair.

More about the scholarship recipients

“The NOAA scholarship really exposed me as a junior scientist to what it means to have a career in the field of science. I’ve had the opportunity to network with people from all over the country and to travel to many new places,” said Tavares, who graduated in spring 2018 and is continuing on to graduate school in SOEST‘s geology and geophysics department. “Having a scholarship also eased my stress and allowed me to focus on my education.”

Added fellow graduate Lewis, “Receiving this scholarship has been a pivotal moment. I was able to explore my career and academic interests in a supportive environment, mentored by professionals in the field who cared about my growth. The internship I was offered through the scholarship helped to solidify my career goals.”

Lewis has secured a position that starts immediately after graduation with the state Division of Aquatic Resources to study the impact of Native Hawaiian agriculture practices on nearshore coral reefs on Kauaʻi.

This summer, rising senior Tran is embarking on his NOAA-sponsored summer experience in Huron, Ohio, on Lake Erie. “Previously, I did not know how I wanted to use my global environmental science degree,” said Tran. “Now, being a part of this program has shown me the path that I want to take—to research the effects of sea-level rise in the Pacific Islands as well as build resilience to coastal communities. This amazing opportunity will allow me to help my home community regarding the future impacts of sea-level rise through global climate change.”

Rising juniors Lopera and Tokuda were recently informed of their awards and will be completing their research experience in summer 2019.

Said Lopera, “The NOAA Hollings Scholarship is an opportunity for me to explore a career in environmental-based research, as tackling worldwide problems such as global climate change becomes more relevant than ever.”

Tokuda added, equally enthusiastically, “I believe that this scholarship represents a privilege of growing together with one of the largest scientific communities in the world.”

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