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Cuong Tran, 2022 Grau Fellow.

Postgraduate fellows helping to build resilience and protect water quality are gaining practical experience and getting paid for it. Two fellows from the University of Hawaiʻi have a unique opportunity to work directly with Hawaiʻi-based organizations with the support of the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program (Hawaiʻi Sea Grant) E. Gordon Grau Coastal Resource Management and Policy Fellowship Program (Grau Fellowship).

The fellowships, named in honor of Emeritus Professor E. Gordon Grau, Hawaiʻi Sea Grant’s visionary former director, provide students the chance to obtain relevant policy experience and to pursue career opportunities in Hawaiʻi.

Cuong Tran

Tran, a recent graduate of the master’s program at UH Mānoa’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning housed in the College of Social Sciences, brings his background in helping Hawaiʻi’s diverse communities adapt to the future threats of climate change to the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC). As a first time host office, the NDPTC is a perfect fit for Tran who has been pursuing a career in natural disaster management and climate change mitigation since his undergraduate degree at UH Mānoa, helping coastal communities plan for climate change impacts.

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Shayla Waiki, 2022 Grau Fellow

While a master’s student, he worked with the City and County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency, and began the process to create a Resilience Hub Action Plan for the island of Oʻahu with the possibility of creating a statewide plan. Tran’s work continues to focus on community engagement and improving conditions for island communities.

Shayla Waiki

Waiki is also fortunate to be gaining invaluable experience in her field of water quality and wastewater management during her fellowship at Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations (WAI), a Hawaiʻi-based nonprofit organization that works to protect water quality, reduce sewage pollution, and restore healthy watersheds. WAI hosted its first Grau fellow from 2020–22 and valued both the opportunity to train the next generation of water quality experts as well as the dedication and commitment of the previous fellow, so it did not hesitate to agree to support Waiki.

As a graduate of UH Hilo’s Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science program, she studied the connectivity of on-site sewage disposal systems to the nearshore water quality, and plans to combine her research background with the policy experience she will gain at WAI to pursue a career in environmental law.

How to apply

Hawaiʻi Sea Grant continually recruits host offices, and any municipal, state, federal agency or Hawaiʻi-based nonprofit organization that works on coastal or marine research, policy or management is welcome to apply. Any suggestions regarding potential host offices for 2023 or questions can be directed to Maya Walton, Hawaiʻi Sea Grant assistant director for research and fellowships, at or (808) 956-6992.

–By Cindy Knapman

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