To help build the future of marine research in Hawaiʻi, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Student Scholarship Symposium showcased the work of 33 undergraduate and graduate haumāna (students) from the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) to donors who have been funding their research. The symposium, an annual event that has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19, was held in-person on April 11, at Moku o Loʻe (Coconut Island).

More than 100 donors, kūpuna from the community and HIMB faculty, staff and haumāna attended the event. Haumāna presented management applied and solution based research on a broad range of marine research topics encompassing coral reefs, sharks, whales, monk seals and fishes.

student interview
Nakoa Goo

This past year, $92,810 was awarded through 11 scholarships to 33 haumāna. Scholarships from donations were used for tuition assistance, books, lab supplies, travel and other research costs.

“It’s a great opportunity because it supports future collaborations in research and also helping to let the donors know how their funding is being used, it’s also leading to a lot of positive outcomes,” said Nakoa Goo, a PhD student at HIMB.

The symposium was an opportunity for UH haumāna to present their research in a public forum and for donors to meet their recipients and interact with one another to support future research collaborations.

group photo
(Photo credit: Jeffrey DePonte)

“I think this is a cool place to be able to show your work and be able to sit with people that are really smart, like PhD and masters students, and feel like ‘Ya I can do this with them as well. I’m presenting on information and data that I’m collecting.’ So I think it’s just a confidence boost for me as an undergrad to be over here presenting,” said Hanalei Hoʻopai-Sylva, a UH undergraduate student in marine biology.

Twenty-nine presentations were given in-person and four presentations were pre-recorded. After each presentation, donors were given a chance to engage with haumāna through a Q&A session.

“It is such an inspiration to hear directly from the students about the amazing work that they are doing,” said Eleanor Sterling, HIMB director. “It is a pleasure to have everyone back together to hear about the work HIMB researchers and educators are doing that supports the people of the state of Hawaiʻi and the health of ocean systems everywhere.”

This event 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.

prayer before meal