Four graduate students with ties to UH Mānoa’s Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC) were awarded scholarships to attend the Ocean Leadership Practicum held in January 2013 at the Center for Ocean Solutions in Monterey, California. The four students are all Pacific Islanders, including a Native Hawaiian (Narrissa Spies), a Chamorro student from Guam (Austin Shelton), a Chamorro student from Saipan (Sean MacDuff) and a Palauan (Jack Idechong).
The practicum was focused on strengthening the leadership skills of the brightest up-and-comers in the area of marine conservation, and included training in communicating science to diverse audiences, working through potential conflicts to achieve measurable goals and outcomes, and providing leadership through innovation and collaboration.
Spies, Shelton and MacDuff are PhD students performing their doctoral dissertation research at PBRC’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory; Idechong, presently a graduate student at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory, served as an undergraduate research assistant at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory as well. In fact, three of the four students started their careers as researchers in PBRC’s undergraduate programs, which foster critical thinking, problem solving and leadership.
“These four students are actively engaged in marine conservation research and its application to sustainability in Hawai’i and the Pacific Islands,” said Dr. Robert Richmond, research professor at PBRC. “They will undoubtedly serve as excellent ambassadors and role models of the expertise and passion that exists in Hawai’i and Micronesia for protecting our oceans as a legacy for future generations."
PBRC has a long history of successfully engaging and mentoring under-represented minority students, particularly Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines. The advancement of these four graduate students is an example of positive outcomes in instilling a passion for learning and the application of science to locally relevant, real-world problems.
(From UH Mānoa News: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=5572)