Three new graduate students in the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo were selected to receive Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation fellowships. The overall goal of the fellowships is to develop the next generation of natural resource management leaders in Hawaiʻi.
There are also three returning UH Hilo fellows in their second year of graduate studies. All of the students were chosen because of their strong academic records as undergraduates, connections to and integration with the local conservation community, passion for the ʻāina (land) and keen interest in preserving and protecting natural resources, and commitment to a career that works toward preserving and sustaining the local environment.
In addition to a tuition waiver, the students will receive a regular stipend and funds for supplies and professional development for two years.
Ezzy is working on a thesis with Professor Kathryn Besio from geography and environmental sciences. Ezzy has been working in local agriculture with the Hawaiʻi ʻUlu Co-op in Hilo for two years. Exploring both conservation and agriculture in Hawaiʻi, her proposed research focuses on the interactions of post-plantation land management, soil fertility, biodiversity and food access.
“With the support of the Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation graduate fellowship, I am poised to ask the necessary questions to help transform Hawaiʻi agriculture into a means of conservation—boosting climate resilience and fostering ecological diversity—while serving as a mode of economic self-sufficiency for local farmers,” she said.
Kay is on an internship track and plans to work with the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration or The Nature Conservancy at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Lisa Canale, UH Hilo coordinator for the professional internship track, is advising Kay.
“My desire is to work alongside these organizations to vaccinate and tag Hawaiian monk seals as well as monitor honu, nene and shearwaters while ensuring their protection and habitat preservation,” said Kay. “The graduate program will assist me in fostering relationships with organizations in Hawaiʻi to guide my career path in conservation, strengthening my connections, and building my professional network as I conduct meaningful research in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.”
Shiroma is working on her thesis with Jonathan Price, a UH Hilo geography professor, and focusing on analyzing field data collections from the U.S Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program in forested regions throughout the state of Hawaiʻi.
“The goal is to assess data recorded over the past two decades and form viable and practical solutions toward furthering conservation management protocols today,” explained Shiroma.