girl smiling
Kimberly Martin

As an Oʻahu high school student with a lifelong passion for science, Kimberly Martin was a perfect fit for the Earth-Planets-ʻIke-Kuleana (EPʻIK) Summer Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. EPʻIK offers opportunities for high school students in Hawaiʻi to gain exposure to Earth and planetary science in preparation for a successful college experience.

Martin wanted to be a scientist for as long as she can remember and developed an interest in earth and ocean sciences in middle school. In her junior year of high school, she attended an open house at UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), learned about the Earth sciences degree programs for undergraduates and met professor Bridget Smith-Konter, who would later welcome Martin into the summer 2020 EPʻIK program.

“I learned about so many research opportunities here at UH and I was really interested in being involved in that,” said Martin, who is now an honors student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the UH Mānoa Earth Sciences Department. “Not only do I love earth science, but also ocean science. Being at a university that does exciting research in both areas means I have the opportunity to be a part of that while I’m an undergraduate student.”

Improving predictions of volcanic eruptions

Martin is working with Smith-Konter through the program ERTH Undergraduate Research Opportunities Cohort and learning to make maps that show how the Earth’s crust deformed during the 2018 Kīlauea volcanic eruption. As a next step, Martin and Smith-Konter will rely on near-real-time satellite data so the maps they make show current deformation progress. Such maps could be used as a way to inform the community about seismic and volcanic hazards in near-real-time.

“I find all of this work fascinating,” said Martin. “One particularly interesting thing is learning the coding language. I’ve never had any experience doing this before so it’s all very new and quite difficult. The first time I was successful, I was so proud of myself!”

Martin anticipates graduating in spring 2025. For the next few years, she is open to a variety of research experiences in hopes of determining which field to pursue in graduate school.

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

For more information, see SOEST’s website.