University of Hawaiʻi System News https://www.hawaii.edu/news News from the University of Hawaii Sat, 06 Feb 2021 00:12:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/cropped-UHNews512-1-32x32.jpg University of Hawaiʻi System News https://www.hawaii.edu/news 32 32 New state-of-the-art Academy for Creative Media facility ready for students https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/07/acm-facility-ready-for-students/ Sun, 07 Feb 2021 18:00:23 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=135034 Creative media at UH West Oʻahu has a new high-tech home.

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A C M building

When Academy for Creative Media (ACM) students at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu return to in-person classes, they will be limited only by their imaginations in the newly constructed 33,000-square foot, $37 million Creative Media Facility. The “future-looking” facility cements the campus as the destination for creative media education in the state by linking facilities and programs throughout the UH System and across the state as a catalyst for Hawaiʻi’s intellectual property workforce.

“This brand new ACM Facility is the culmination of years of efforts to bring the best possible creative media education to the state of Hawaiʻi and gives our students the skills they need to help diversify our economy. It really serves as the hub for the University of Hawaiʻi’s efforts,” Academy for Creative Media System Founder and Director Chris Lee said.

High-demand degree

A C M classroom

The opening of the new building aligns with one of UH West Oʻahu’s newest and fastest-growing degree programs—the bachelor of arts in creative media. UH West Oʻahu’s Creative Media program embraces digital media literacy and storytelling as experienced through video, animation, video games, design, social media, web and app development, virtual and augmented reality, and other new forms of media communication and design through concentrations in communication and new media technologies, design and media, game design and development and general creative media. Creative media was the fastest-growing degree program at UH West Oʻahu in fall 2020, with 258 majors.

Sharla Hanaoka, UH West Oʻahu’s Academy for Creative Media director, called the symbiosis between the new building and academic programming paramount to the delivery of course materials and subjects that will prepare students for the industry.

“It allows students to gain hands-on experiences that books cannot duplicate in an environment that promotes not only learning but exploration,” she said. “This leads to the growth of confidence through experimentation with complex equipment.”

Industry-standard equipment

student sitting at computer

“The one room I’m most excited about is the post-production room,” said creative media student Nadine Castillo. By practicing on industry-standard equipment, Castillo can envision pursuing a career in film production, and she has her eye on the Black Magic/Da Vinci color-correcting studio to improve her craft.

The facility features a Dolby Atmos 100-seat screening room and mixing stage, Esports arena, post-production suites, an emerging media lab, incubator space, and industry-standard sound stage. The building also features:

  • 16’ wide x 9’ high LED Planar video wall with seating risers and a cafe in the Roy and Hilda Takeyama Lobby. The video wall can be used to display student work, welcome visitors, thank donors and for esports tournaments.
  • Interactive teaching boards, remote learning/video conferencing equipment, in multiple flex classrooms and computer labs
  • Incubator space for collaboration and student and alumni-run companies
  • Mill shop with industrial equipment for set construction and design related projects and separate 3D maker space
  • Hawaiʻi European Cinema Writers Room for collaboration

Generous support

“This state-of-the-art facility is the culmination of a long journey made possible by the generous support of many friends, including UH alumni like Roy and Hilda Takeyama and Jay Shidler, and consistent funding by the legislature and the governor,” Lee said. “In particular, many thanks to Senators Michelle Kidani, Donna Kim and Donovan Dela Cruz, as well as Representatives Sylvia Luke and Ty Cullen for their vision to include both planning and CIP funds to make the building a reality.”

The Academy for Creative Media System partners with area high schools and UH Community Colleges to deliver creative media curriculum by bridging high school to college to the workforce. The UH West Oʻahu Creative Media program has Early College (high school students earn college credits by taking college-level courses) partnerships with Waiʻanae, Kapolei, Waipahu and Campbell high schools. All UH Community Colleges have articulation agreements leading to a bachelor’s degree in creative media at UH West Oʻahu.

inside the A C M building

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Climate change, bats linked to COVID-19 pandemic https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/05/climate-change-bats-covid19/ Fri, 05 Feb 2021 23:48:05 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=135055 Researchers found that the number of coronaviruses in an area is closely linked to the number of different bat species present.

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image of virus that causes covid-19
Microscopic image of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Photo credit: NIAID-RML

Global greenhouse gas emissions over the last century have made southern China a hotspot for bat-borne coronaviruses, by driving growth of forest habitat favored by bats. That’s the finding of a new study published in Science of the Total Environment by a team of researchers, including Camilo Mora from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. It provides the first evidence that climate change could have played a direct role in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study revealed large-scale changes in the type of vegetation in the southern Chinese Yunnan province, and adjacent regions in Myanmar and Laos, over the last century. Fueled by climatic changes including increases in temperature, sunlight and atmospheric carbon dioxide—which affect the growth of plants and trees—these habitats have changed from tropical shrubland to tropical savannah and deciduous (trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves) woodland. This created a suitable environment for many bat species that predominantly live in forests.

The study found that the number of coronaviruses in an area is closely linked to the number of different bat species present. An additional 40 bat species have moved into the southern Chinese Yunnan province in the past century, harboring around 100 more types of bat-borne coronavirus. This “global hotspot” is the region where genetic data suggests SARS-CoV-2 may have arisen.

The study suggests that as climate change altered habitats, species left some areas and moved into others—taking their viruses with them. This not only altered the regions where viruses are present, but most likely allowed for new interactions between animals and viruses, causing more harmful viruses to be transmitted or evolve.

“The fact that climate change can accelerate the transmission of wildlife pathogens to humans should be an urgent wake-up call to reduce global emissions,” said Mora, an associate professor of geography in the College of Social Sciences.

“Understanding how the global distribution of bat species has shifted as a result of climate change may be an important step in reconstructing the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said lead author Robert Beyer, a researcher in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and research fellow at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.

The researchers echo calls from previous studies that urge policymakers to acknowledge the role of climate change in outbreaks of viral diseases, and to address climate change as part of COVID-19 economic recovery programs.

This research was supported by the European Research Council. It is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

map showing the dispersion of bats related to climate change
Estimated increase in the local number of bat species due to shifts in their geographical ranges driven by climate change between the 1901-1930 and 1990-2019 period. The zoomed-in area represents the likely spatial origin of the bat-borne ancestors of SARS-CoV-1 and 2.
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New fund gives students hands-on learning as investors, entrepreneurs https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/05/fund-students-investors-entrepreneurs/ Fri, 05 Feb 2021 23:02:17 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=135042 The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship is launching the Calvin Shindo Student Venture Fund.

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five students looking and smiling at camera

The University of Hawaiʻi is offering a new, real-world, educational opportunity for students who want to learn the venture capital process and startup finance. The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business is launching the Calvin Shindo Student Venture Fund, a student-run, seed investment fund for UH-affiliated companies.

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

Previously called the Hoku Scientific Microloan Fund, the program is made possible by a generous gift from Dustin Shindo, the co-founder of Hoku Scientific. The microloan program was revamped into an equity investment fund and named in honor of Calvin Shindo, Dustin’s father. Investments up to $5,000 are available per venture. A total of $25,000 per year will be awarded, with $133,000 available to be invested by the seed investment fund. Applications will be accepted beginning in April 2021.

“We are so pleased to have Dustin’s support to develop such an impactful, learning experience for our students,” said Peter Rowan, executive director of PACE. “In addition to providing an opportunity for students to sit on both the investor and entrepreneur side of the process, we’ll be able to provide access to much-needed, seed capital to early-stage companies that are affiliated with the university.”

Student screening committee nominations

PACE is currently accepting nominations for its student screening committee for the fund. Prior experience in venture finance or entrepreneurship is not required. The students will be responsible for the entire investment process including sourcing, qualifying, negotiating and managing investments. A fund board, made up of experienced investors, will oversee the student screening committee and give final approval of all investment recommendations. Nominations are accepted until February 14. Visit PACE’s website to learn more about the fund and to nominate a student.

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‘Niu’ initiative promotes food sustainability, Hawaiian cultural practices https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/04/niu-initiative-food-sustainability-hawaiian-practices/ Fri, 05 Feb 2021 02:52:57 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=134971 Coconut seedlings help cultivate UH West Oʻahu’s Uluniu Project.

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Working in a niu nursery
The Uluniu Project team worked in late December on its nursery and grove

The Uluniu Project—an effort​ to​ engage in the practices of​ food security, cultural dissemination of knowledge, and the growing of student leadership through aloha ʻāina work—is expanding at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu with the recent placement of 264 niu (coconut) seedlings in its Niu Nursery​.

Preparations have also begun for the first ​ʻ​ulu (breadfruit) and niu plantings in its Uluniu Grove after the digging of 20 ditches for their placement.

The project was established by Indrajit Gunasekara, a UH West Oʻahu financial aid officer, and Manulani Aluli Meyer, the Konohiki of Kūlana o Kapole​i.

“We are living in mythic times,” Meyer said. “The Uluniu Project is about responding to the kāhea, the call. We are answering a call for relationship with land and thus to awaken to ways we can feed ourselves from the food of this relationship. Growing ​ʻ/breadfruit and niu/coconut is one such response that will give us both—food and relationality.”

Chancellor Benham
Maenette Benham brought life to the first hole for niu for the project

First seeds

Since its inception in 2017, the project has grown with workshops reaching hundreds of community members and college students via presentations on campus, and at local and statewide conferences, schools, farms and many educational sites on the purpose and need for food-producing trees—specifically ​​ʻulu and niu.

The Uluniu Project team has gathered a community of scholars and Indigenous practitioners to connect and strengthen cultural practices with science-based applications to highlight ​ʻulu and niu potential within the Hawaiian islands. The Uluniu Project goals include Hawaiian cultural revitalization, environmental conservation and local food production.

Documenting diversity

With the establishment of the Niu Nursery, the goal is to document and germinate a collection of seed coconuts with special focus on Oceania dwarf (niuliʻi) and local niu varieties found in the ahupuaʻa of Honouliuli. There are currently 24 different​ morphologically documented​ varieties in the nursery.

niu seed-nuts
Niu Nursery with 264 niu seed-nuts, click for larger image

One purpose of the nursery is to produce meaningful gifts that highlight the university’s Pahuhopu/Institutional Values: Mālama ʻĀina, Kaiāulu, Waiwai and Hana Lawelawe; along with the activation of two key elements of its Theory of Distinctiveness: Sustainability and Innovation.

Other purposes are to acknowledge and document local niu diversity on the Leeward Coast through research and educational materials, and to promote a local and international coconut gene banking protocol to ensure the perpetuation of Hawaiian niu diversity. Gunasekara is currently working with Noa Lincoln of UH Mānoa to further understanding of Hawaiʻi’s niu diversity.

Student opportunities

The nursery and grove will also help to promote and provide quality space for UH Systemwide students’ research projects on sustainability, soil rejuvenation and local food production; and connect with scientific community members and others interested in these topics.

The Uluniu Project welcomes a limited number of volunteers for its work days—8 to 11 a.m. most Saturdays—to assist with tasks such as amending soil, clearing the grove area, and planting native plants to surround the area and protect the moisture.

Volunteers must sign liability waiver forms and follow COVID-19 guidelines. Those interested in volunteering may contact Aloha ʻĀina Student Service Club President Jesse Mikasobe-Kealiinohomoku at jmk23@hawaii.edu or Aloha ʻĀina Student Service Club Advisor and Uluniu Project Coordinator Gunasekara at indrajit@hawaii.edu for more information.

Read more at Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.

—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman

niulii plant
The first niuliʻi planted in the Uluniu Project site on January 23
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Ocean surface slicks create superhighway for diverse fishes https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/04/superhighway-diverse-fishes/ Thu, 04 Feb 2021 23:09:47 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=134993 Researchers found these ocean features create a superhighway of nursery habitat for more than 100 species of commercially and ecologically important fishes.

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fish superhighway
(Photo credit for larval photos: Jonathan Whitney, NOAA Fisheries), (Slick photo credit: Joey Lecky, NOAA Fisheries)

To survive the open ocean, tiny fish larvae must find food, avoid predators and navigate ocean currents to their adult habitats. But what the larvae of most marine species experience during these great ocean odysseys has long been a mystery, until now.

A team of scientists from NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Arizona State University and elsewhere have discovered that a diverse array of marine animals find refuge in so-called “surface slicks” in Hawaiʻi. These ocean features create a superhighway of nursery habitats for more than 100 species of commercially and ecologically important fishes, such as mahi-mahi, jacks and billfish. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

Surface slicks are meandering lines of smooth surface water formed by the convergence of ocean currents, tides, and variations in the seafloor and have long been recognized as an important part of the seascape. The traditional Hawaiian mele (song) Kona Kai ʻŌpua describes slicks as Ke kai maʻokiʻoki, or “the streaked sea” in the peaceful seas of Kona. Despite this historical knowledge, and scientists’ belief that slicks are important for fish, the tiny marine life that slicks contain has remained elusive.

diagram showing connections
Diagram showing ecological connections in surface slicks. (Photo credit: Whitney et al. 2021)

To unravel the slicks’ secrets, the research team conducted more than 130 plankton net tows to search for larvae and other plankton inside the surface slicks and surrounding waters along the leeward coast of Hawaiʻi Island, while studying ocean properties. They then combined those in-water surveys with a new technique to remotely sense slick footprints using satellites.

A diverse marine nursery

Though the slicks covered only about 8% of the ocean surface in the 380-square-mile-study area, they contained an astounding 39% of the study area’s surface-dwelling larval fish; more than 25% of its zooplankton, which the larval fish eat; and 75% of its floating organic debris such as feathers and leaves. Larval fish densities in surface slicks off West Hawaiʻi were, on average, more than seven times higher than densities in the surrounding waters.

The study showed that surface slicks function as a nursery habitat for marine larvae of at least 112 species of commercially and ecologically important fishes, as well as many other animals. These include coral reef fishes, such as jacks, triggerfish and goatfish; pelagic predators, for example mahi-mahi; deep-water fishes, such as lanternfish; and various invertebrates, such as snails, crabs and shrimp.

“We were shocked to find larvae of so many species, and even entire families of fishes, that were only found in surface slicks,” said lead author Jonathan Whitney, marine ecologist at NOAA and former postdoctoral fellow at the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research in UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). “This suggests they are dependent on these essential habitats.”

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

An interconnected superhighway

ocean
Surface slicks off West Hawaii. (Photo credit: Jonathan Whitney, NOAA Fisheries and Paul Cox)

“These ‘bioslicks’ form an interconnected superhighway of rich nursery habitat that accumulate and attract tons of young fishes, along with dense concentrations of food and shelter,” said Whitney. “The fact that surface slicks host such a large proportion of larvae, along with the resources they need to survive, tells us they are critical for the replenishment of adult fish populations.”

In addition to providing crucial nursing habitat for various species and helping maintain healthy and resilient coral reefs, slicks create foraging hotspots for larval fish predators and form a bridge between coral reef and pelagic ecosystems.

Explore this research through an interactive storymap.

For more see SOEST’s website.

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National award for College of Education academic advisor https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/04/jolene-muneno-advisor-award/ Thu, 04 Feb 2021 22:34:26 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=134969 Jolene Muneno was selected for the Region 9 National Academic Advising Association’s New Advisor Award.

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muneno meeting with a student
Jolene Muneno provides academic advising to a student.

Jolene Muneno of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education Office of Student Academic Services (OSAS), was selected for the Region 9 National Academic Advising Association’s (NACADA) Excellence in Advising New Advisor Award. She will be recognized at NACADA’s Region 9 Virtual Conference in March.

Jolene Muneno
Jolene Muneno

“I feel honored and grateful to everyone who has supported me as a new advisor, and I feel privileged every day to be able to guide students during such an influential time in their lives,” Muneno said. “From my first day here, everyone at OSAS has made me feel incredibly welcome and supported. I couldn’t have earned this recognition without them.”

An academic advisor with OSAS since 2018, Muneno was selected out of a competitive pool of applications and nominations for her outstanding interpersonal relations skills, professional practices and development and documented success.

Muneno’s nominator, OSAS Academic Advisor Alyssa Kapaona, said, “Every day, I feel lucky to work with someone like Jolene. Students love to meet with her, colleagues are excited to work with her, and her accomplishments speak for themselves. Some of her many contributions, above and beyond our core OSAS functions, include training faculty in Youth Mental Health First Aid, creating video modules to introduce students to their major, and designing an online new student welcome presentation during the global pandemic.”

Muneno said she did not go to college thinking she would be an academic advisor, but she realized as she worked in higher education that she really enjoyed working one-on-one with students. Through advising, she has been able to connect with students and help them realize their goals.

“This honor is truly well-deserved, and we are thrilled that Jolene is being recognized for her outstanding work,” OSAS Director Denise Nakaoka said. “She strengthens our unit with her creativity, work ethic and consistent drive toward excellence. The award description and criteria fit her perfectly, and we are truly fortunate to have her on our team.”

This recognition is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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800-year-old taro farming techniques revealed https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/04/800-year-old-taro-farming/ Thu, 04 Feb 2021 21:54:56 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=134967 Research revealed that farmers used a form of hydraulic engineering to grow taro.

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headshot of Patrick Kirch
Patrick V. Kirch

Ancient Hawaiian farmers may have used sophisticated engineering techniques to grow taro as far back as 800 years ago, according to research conducted by a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa team.

In July and August 2020, Department of Anthropology Professor Patrick V. Kirch, graduate students and Molokaʻi community volunteers spent five weeks on the Friendly Isle conducting an archaeological mission in Hālawa Valley. Archaeological surveys and excavations took place in two of the valley’s ʻili or traditional land sections.

“Some of the most interesting finds were made at two sets of stone-faced terraces that appear to have been irrigated from side-valley streams in Pualaulau and Kapana,” Kirch said. “These smaller field systems were not like typical loʻi (taro patches) found on the main valley floor, but rather were constructed in and around boulder fields, a remarkable kind of engineering.”

Kirch added, “From our excavations, it appears that the farmers who constructed these fields used a form of ‘hydraulic engineering’ to move sediments from the stream bed into the terraces, to build up soil that could then be planted in taro.”

The mapping revealed extensive sets of ancient agricultural terraces along with house sites and several agricultural heiau. Excavations yielded charcoal samples that are now being analyzed and radiocarbon dated, which will provide a chronology for the development of the valley’s agricultural system. Other samples are being analyzed for microscopic pollen, plant silica “skeletons” and starch grains to determine which crops were being grown.

Educational opportunity

agricultural terraces in the forest and trees
Agricultural terraces in Hālawa Valley on Molokaʻi

The magnitude of the discovery was not lost on anthropology graduate student Kylie Tuitavuki, who is benefiting from the STEM training opportunity for Native Hawaiians and other underrepresented stakeholders in field settings.

“I am a big proponent of community-based archaeology, and strongly believe that research should be done with and for the people,” Tuitavuki said. “The archaeology part was great, but the stories, histories and connections we made with community members was the best part of the field season. I was excited to be able to work in the region where my family is from.”

Kirch’s team will continue its research in Hālawa Valley this year, with the goal of understanding how the ancient “hydraulic engineers” of Hawaiʻi created sustainable and productive agricultural systems that endured for centuries.

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

Supporting Kirch’s work

headshots of Arlen and Debra Prentice
Arlen and Debra Prentice

Kirch’s work is supported by his longtime friend Debra Prentice. A UH Mānoa graduate student with research focused on Polynesian societies in the late 1970s when she met Kirch, Prentice said giving back to UH Mānoa during one of the most challenging years is testament to her lifelong interest in anthropology, her commitment to academic research and a friendship standing the test of time.

She and her husband recently established the Debra and Arlen Prentice Research Fund for Pacific Island Archaeology and Anthropology. Housed in the UH Foundation, their gift will support a graduate research assistant and discretionary expenses.

“Pat’s work is important,” Prentice said. “I firmly believe that in order to move forward and solve some of our challenges in today’s complex world, we need to understand our history, to know where we came from and how we got here. Prehistory can teach us so much.”

For more on Kirch’s work, Prentice’s generous contribution and additional stories visit the College of Social Sciences’ website.

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UH Cancer Center gets a starring role in new Disney+ series https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/04/doogie-kamealoha-cancer-center/ Thu, 04 Feb 2021 20:21:16 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=134932 The new show, Doogie Kamealoha, M.D has transformed the UH Cancer Center into a fictional hospital.

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The UH Cancer Center

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center will have a leading role in the new Disney+ original series, Doogie Kamealoha, M.D., a reboot of the beloved 90s dramedy Doogie Howser M.D. The series, shot and set in Hawaiʻi, has transformed part of the UH Cancer Center into a fictional hospital set. The show began filming on February 1, with a blessing held in Waimānalo, one of several island locations where filming for the show will occur.

“We’re so pleased that the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center and its team are working on this series, showcasing how collaboration of community and production can work together to the benefit of economic recovery, while creating a medical series, which will deliver a new perspective for viewers that embraces our island home,” said Mike McCartney, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism director.

Excitement has been building for Doogie Kamealoha, M.D., created and written by Hawaiʻi-born Kourtney Kang and set to release later this year on Disney+. The new Doogie series will star Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Lahela “Doogie” Kamealoha, the teenage child prodigy doctor; Kathleen Rose Perkins, as Dr. Clara Hannon, the Doogie character’s spit-fire Irish mother who is an M.D. and chief of staff at the hospital; and Jason Scott Lee as Benny Kamealoha, her Hawaiian father. Lee’s character in the show gives up a financial career on the continent to simplify his life and to spend more time at home in the islands with his three kids.

UH Cancer Center Director Randall Holcombe added, “UH Cancer Center is excited to be participating in the reboot of the Doogie Howser series, reimagined as Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. This is a collaborative effort between John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and the Cancer Center that will help to bolster economic activity for the state, while also highlighting Hawaiʻi’s culture and people.”

In addition to filming within the UH Cancer Center set, filming will also take place in the center’s finished space, exterior spaces and other areas within the Kakaʻako campus shared by the UH Cancer Center and JABSOM.

Read the full news release.

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Could new theory answer what causes landslides on Mars? https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/04/landslides-on-mars/ Thu, 04 Feb 2021 20:02:16 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=134945 A team of researchers developed a new theory about what is causing landslides on the surface of Mars.

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antarctica valley
Wright Valley, Antarctica. (Photo credit: Everett Gibson, NASA Johnson Space Center)

Using Mars orbiter data, field observations and laboratory experiments, a team of researchers, including Peter Englert, professor in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), developed a new theory about what is causing landslides on the surface of Mars. Their research was published in Science Advances.

Previous ideas suggested that liquid debris flows or dry granular flows caused this movement. However, neither model can completely account for the seasonal martian flow features known as Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL).

The team, led by Janice Bishop, SETI Institute senior research scientist and member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute team, alternatively hypothesizes that small-scale ice melting underground causes changes that make the surface vulnerable to dust storms and wind. As a result, the features appear or expand on the surface of Mars. Further, the team believes that the thin layers of melting ice result from interactions between underground water ice, chlorine salts and sulfates, which create an unstable, liquid-like flowing slush that instigates sinkholes, ground collapse, surface flows and upheave.

Earth sediments parallel Mars samples

crater on Mars
Krupac crater on Mars featuring gullies along the rim. (Photo credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Mars analog field investigations on Earth, such as in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the Dead Sea in Israel and Salar de Pajonales in the Atacama Desert, show that when salts including gypsum interact with water underground, it causes disruptions on the surface, including collapse and landslides.

The current project arose out of work on sediments from the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, one of Earth’s coldest and driest regions. As on Mars, the Dry Valleys’ surface is cold and scoured by dry winds most of the year. However, subsurface permafrost contains water ice, and chemical alteration appears to be occurring below the surface.

To test its theory, the team conducted lab experiments to observe what would occur if they froze and thawed analog samples comprised of chlorine salts and sulfates at low temperatures such as what would be found on Mars. The result was slushy ice formation near -50 °C, gradual melting of the ice from -40 to -20 °C and thin layers of liquid-like water forming along grain surfaces.

Englert, who is based at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology in SOEST, managed efforts to analyze the chemistry of Antarctic sediments from several soil pits and cores, enhancing understanding of the salt enrichment in the near-surface layers.

“Because Dry Valley sediments are analogous to Mars sediments, our experiments can provide clues about the processes that may be occurring on Mars,” said Englert. “Elevated concentrations of chlorine salts and sulfates were found just below the surface in multiple locations we studied in Antarctica’s Wright Valley. The ubiquitous subsurface presence of these salts in Antarctica suggest their presence on Mars and their potential role in triggering landslide processes.”

These findings are examples of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

For more information see SOEST’s website.

–By Marcie Grabowski

ice below the surface
Ice (blue) below the surface at a scarp near Hellas Planitia on Mars. (Photo credit: NASA/JPL/Univ of Arizona)
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Facts about COVID-19, post-pandemic life highlighted in journal https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2021/02/03/facts-about-covid-19-article/ Thu, 04 Feb 2021 02:32:55 +0000 https://www.hawaii.edu/news/?p=134926 UH Cancer Center’s Michele Carbone leads the team of national and international collaborators.

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carbone in his lab
Michele Carbone

A comprehensive review of the COVID-19 pandemic, led by University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researcher Michele Carbone, was published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. Accessible to the public and written in lay language, topics covered include origin, coronavirus background, detection, death rates, transmission, susceptibility, developing therapies, vaccines and more.

The article seeks to provide experts, public health authorities and the general public with a reliable scientific source of information regarding facts about the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the article discusses the future of the pandemic—addressing questions about when the pandemic will end, and when life can return to the way it used to be.

“The goal of this publication is to help people better understand the virus and how to best protect themselves from the infection. We also want to present the facts in a clear and simple way, as there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation being spread about the virus,” said Carbone.

Collaborators include national and international researchers John Lednicky from the University of Florida, Shu-Yuan Xiao from the University of Chicago, Mario Venditti from the University of Rome, and Enrico Bucci from Temple University.

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

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