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Green sea turtle. (Photo credit: NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center)

In support of student research focused on marine science, the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa hosted its annual Student Scholarship Symposium on May 16. The event showcased the work of 15 undergraduate and graduate haumāna (students) for an audience of more than 100 HIMB faculty, researchers, fellow students and donors who have supported the students’ research.

“With this event, we are excited to share the diversity of current research projects at HIMB, showcase our students, and show our appreciation to our scholarship donors,” said Kuʻulei Rodgers, a researcher at HIMB and a member of the HIMB Scholarship Committee.

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HIMB Scholarship Symposium presenters and attendees, 2023.

Haumāna representing 13 different labs at HIMB presented applied and solution-based research on a broad range of marine research topics encompassing coral reefs, sharks, whales, monk seals and fishes. Projects were focused near and far—with some students working locally in Kāneʻohe Bay or a Windward Oʻahu loko ʻia (fishpond) and another assessing Guam’s green sea turtles.

Donor generosity supports student research

Thanks to the generosity of Carol Ann and Myron K. Hayashida Student Fund, Peter Castro Graduate Student Research Fund, Alan Church Environmental Steward Scholarship, Ruth D. Gates Memorial Fund, Colonel Wilys E. Lord, DMV & Sandina L. Lord Scholarship, Schmidt Ocean Institute Undergraduate Research Fund, and Ashley Marie Smith Memorial Research Fund, the HIMB Scholarship Program awarded $112,000 in support of the 15 students this past year. Scholarships were used for tuition assistance, books, lab supplies, travel and other research costs. These scholarships are helping to build the future for marine research in Hawaiʻi.

“The scholarship funding has supported me in my research efforts and contributed to my academic and professional development,” said scholarship recipient Leah Shizuru.

Graduate student Josefa Munoz, who received a travel scholarship said, “I’m grateful that the funding helped cover my student fees and allowed me to present my research at the 2023 International Sea Turtle Symposium in Cartagena, Colombia. This was a great opportunity for me to attend informative talks that helped improve my research as well as meet other scientists who share in my mission to preserve endangered green sea turtles in the Western Pacific.”

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.

“Scholarship support gives our students more independence to follow where their scientific curiosity leads,” said Megan Donahue, HIMB director. “The whole HIMB community looks forward to celebrating HIMB student research at this event each year.”

–By Marcie Grabowski