Lauren Ward, center, flanked by guest judges
2019 ARCS Scholar of the Year Lauren Ward, center, flanked by guest judges and retired UH faculty members Gareth Wynn-Williams and Bruce Liebert.

An earthquake modeler in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, was named the 2019 ARCS Scholar of the Year, and a dozen other University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate students received ARCS Scholar Awards at the ARCS Foundation Honolulu Chapter’s recent year-end banquet.

ARCS, which stands for Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, is dedicated to keeping the U.S. competitive in STEM fields. The organization annually awards $5,000 grants to outstanding UH doctoral students who demonstrate potential for expanding knowledge and applying technological solutions.

Lauren Ward received the Toby Lee ARCS Award in Earth Sciences and the additional $1,000 Scholar of the Year Award for her efforts to refine simulations of the San Andreas Fault System and its crustal deformation response to the earthquake cycle. Her work may improve seismic hazard estimates for complex fault systems.

2019 ARCS Scholars, from left, Sarah Tucker, Evan Kawamura, Luke Campillo, Shayle Matsuda, Evan Lechner, Lauren Ward, Christopher Light, David Webb, Ashley Chontos, Brennan Yamamoto, Alina Pang, Jessie Kai and Chantell Balaan.

More UH Mānoa award winners

School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

  • Evan Lechner, ARCS Farrar Award in Oceanography
    Lechner examines the movement of carbon and oxygen into and out of estuary systems, with the goal of creating more resiliency for sustainable coastal initiatives. He is tracking changes in Heʻeia Fishpond as restoration efforts replace invasives, such as mangrove, with native species.
  • Shayle Matsuda, ARCS Honolulu Award in Coral Reef Science
    Matsuda studies the algae and bacterial communities that corals select as symbiotic partners. Identifying patterns in the microbial structure and community composition, which can differ across coral colonies, may help to identify mechanisms that could make corals more resistant to stress, thus more likely to survive climate change. The award was designated in memory of the late groundbreaking UH coral reef scientist Ruth Gates, who was Matsuda’s advisor.
  • Sarah Tucker, Maybelle Roth ARCS Award in Conservation Biology
    Tucker uses genetic tools to examine the ecological roles of three marine bacteria, including one that produces the oxygen in one of every five breaths humans take. Tucker considers both abiotic (such as rainfall, acidity and nutrients) and biotic (such as predation) environmental drivers.

College of Engineering

  • Evan Kawamura, Shelagh Kresser ARCS Award in Engineering
    Kawamura combines the use of nonlinear controllers with algorithms for trajectory guidance and navigation control of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. The Hanalani Schools graduate collaborates with NASA experts on the project.
  • Brennan Yamamoto, Bretzlaff Foundation ARCS Award in Engineering
    Yamamoto works in the Renewable Energy, Industrial Automation, Precision Engineering (RIP) Lab on the development of unmanned marine vehicles. A Moanalua High School graduate, Yamamoto received the Kresser Award in 2017.

College of Natural Sciences

  • Luke Campillo, Maybelle Roth ARCS Award in Conservation Biology
    Campillo uses DNA sequencing of Hawaiian bird populations to study how geography drives speciation, the process by which a single population splits into two independent ones.
  • Christopher Light, Sarah Ann Martin ARCS Award in Physics
    Light uses the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station to characterize Solar Energetic Particles coming from eruptions on the sun that pose acute risks to astronauts and equipment in space. He is also interested in how solar eruptions affect radiation from other sources and distort Earth’s magnetic field.
  • David Webb, Sarah Ann Martin ARCS Award in Mathematics
    Webb has built several new families of algorithmic dimensions that measure aspects of the oscillations between simple and complex sequences, and explores the relationships between them. The Punahou graduate is also a semi-professional choral singer.

John A. Burns School Medicine (JABSOM)

  • Chantell Balaan, Koenig ARCS Award in Medicine
    Balaan studies the potential role of microbiota in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She looks at two distinct types of cave fish, one of which exhibits ASD-like behaviors, to assess the potential for a ketogenic diet to mitigate those behaviors. The Kauaʻi High School graduate is in the Developmental and Reproductive Biology Program, Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology.
  • Alina Pang, Kai Bowden ARCS Award in Medicine
    Pang examines how the body uses energy in different diseases with an eye to identifying beneficial dietary interventions. Her work studies the potential for a high-fat, low-sugar ketogenic diet in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the role of blood sugar in immune system inflammation related to Type 2 Diabetes. The Kamehameha Schools Kapālama campus graduate is in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology and is a trainee in JABSOM’s Ola Hawaiʻiprogram to address local health disparities.

College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

  • Jessie Puahau Kai, Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, ARCS Farrar Award in Tropical Agriculture
    Kai harnesses mobile technology to capture dietary data in order to assess the early diets of infants in minority and indigenous populations that have high incidences of childhood obesity and nutrition-related diseases. She is a Kamehameha Schools–Hawaiʻi campus graduate.

Institute for Astronomy

  • Ashley Chontos, Columbia ARCS Award in Astronomy
    Utilizing Maunakea and space-based facilities to look for planets outside our Solar System, Chontos applies a process called asteroseismology, the study of sound waves, to characterize planets and the stars they orbit.

About ARCS Foundation Honolulu Chapter

One of 15 ARCS Foundation Inc. chapters nationwide, the Honolulu chapter has awarded close to $2 million in unrestricted awards to about 600 UH Mānoa graduate students since 1974.