September 2015
UH-Manoa receives top ranking for earth and environmental science
The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is ranked the 15th university in the world for earth and environmental science according to this year's Nature Index. Anchored by SOEST, UH Mānoa ranked higher than nearly 8,000 other institutions.

The Nature Index ranks institutions based on the number of research papers published in Nature and a select group of other prestigious journals, each of which include peer-review by active researchers.

"Publication in these journals is a significant achievement in and of itself. To be in the top tier of universities with such highly impactful publications is testament to the quality and importance of the earth and environmental science research undertaken by our faculty, postdoc and students," said Brian Taylor, UH Mānoa interim vice chancellor for research and SOEST dean.

"The Nature Index provides absolute counts of high-quality publication productivity at the institutional and national level, and as such is one indicator of high-quality research output across the globe," according to the Nature Publishing Group.

Of the top 22 earth and environmental science institutions, seven are national agencies or laboratories (such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences and NASA) and 15 are universities.
New HIMB Director Ruth Gates  
It is our pleasure to report that the Board of Regents unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. Ruth Gates as the new permanent Director of the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology ( HIMB), effective Monday 24 August 2015.

The faculty, staff, students and external members of the search advisory committee recommended Dr. Gates as the best candidate for the position.  They noted her scientific credentials and academic background, international recognition as a preeminent coral biologist, well-articulated vision of leading HIMB, familiarity with administration/management protocols of HIMB and UH, ability to communicate with energy and enthusiasm, and demonstrated success in raising funds from private sources.  Dr. Gate's background, knowledge and expertise in HIMB matters will enable her to effectively and immediately step into the role of Director of the Institute.

The appointment of Dr. Ruth Gates as the HIMB Director will provide the strong leadership necessary to advance the ongoing initiatives and partnerships of the Institute, its faculty and external constituents.  Congratulations, Ruth!
Axel Timmermann elected American Geophysical Union Fellow
Axel Timmermann, professor of Oceanography and researcher at the International Pacific Research Center ( IPRC) has been elected an American Geophysical Union ( AGU) Fellow.

"Being elected a Union Fellow is a tribute to those AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by section and focus group committees. This honor is bestowed on only 0.1% of the membership in any given year," according to the EOS announcement.

Timmermann and his 2015 American Geophysical Union Class of Fellows will be recognized at an award ceremony held during the 2015 Annual AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California.
HNEI researcher's work in bioplastics leads to $1.4 million contract
Jian Yu, a Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute , has signed an exclusive global research contract with Bio-On, an Italian intellectual property company, representing a $1.4 million investment. Yu's research focuses on new technologies to produce bioplastics from inexpensive feedstocks such as wood chips, agricultural residues, and domestic wastes. The bioplastics can be molded and shaped like oil-based plastics but are completely degraded into benign products (carbon dioxide and water) in the environment. The research will also make the bioplastics more ductile for broader applications such as films and fibers. UH has given the company exclusive global license of two patents for production of bioplastics from domestic waste.

"I am glad to have this new research support from Bio-On, which is based on successful cooperation in multiple projects over the past seven years," said Yu. "The new project shall promote our research on environmentally friendly bioplastics for a sustainable society."

Read the full story at UH News.
Research shows catastrophic invertebrate extinction in Hawaiʻi and globally
Hawai'i has been called the "extinction capital of the world." But, with the exception of the islands' birds, there has until now been no accurate assessment of the true level of this catastrophic loss. Invertebrates (insects, snails, spiders, etc.) constitute the vast majority of the species that make up Hawai'i's formerly spectacularly diverse and unique biota. A team of researchers, including scientists from the Pacific Biosciences Research Center ( PBRC) recently published the first rigorous assessment of extinction of invertebrates in Hawai'i and
a companion study that addressed invertebrate extinction globally.

"We showed, based on extrapolation from a random sample of land snail species from all over the world, and via two independent approaches, that we may already have lost seven percent (130,000 extinctions) of all the animal species on Earth," said Robert Cowie, research professor at PBRC and co-author of the two studies.

The researchers showed that the biodiversity crisis is real and stressed the need to include assessments of invertebrates in order to obtain a more realistic picture of the current situation, known widely as the "sixth mass extinction."

Read the full story at UH News
Science Communicators 'Ohana - a place to share science
The Science Communicators 'Ohana was founded in September 2014 by a group of SOEST and English Department graduate students and postdocs with a mission to engage the UH community through exploration of effective methods for communicating science. Focused on improving the oral and writing skills for scientists, the overall goal is to increase scientific literacy in society through effective science communication.
Last year, SciComm 'Ohana hosted numerous workshops, such as Blog Basics and the Pub Speech (i.e., a 30-sec elevator speech). At SciComm 'Ohana's workshops, participants work --- they want people to practice science communication. SciComm 'Ohana launched the Real Science at SOEST! Blog in June 2013 and has since featured 27 articles by graduate and undergraduate students and postdocs. The SOEST blog recently welcomed 10,000 visitors on Sept 1!

As a Registered Independent Organization at UH-Manoa, SciComm 'Ohana was recently awarded SAPFB funding to bring in an Improv troupe for their upcoming workshop, Improvisational Skills for Scientists.
Learn more about the organization and upcoming opportunities on Facebook, Ka Leo O Hawaii and ByteMarks Cafe.  
Chip Fletcher delivers keynote presentation at Pacific Education Conference
Courtesy of Marshall Islands Journal
Chip Fletcher, professor of Geology and SOEST's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, delivered the keynote address for the Pacific Education Conference held in July in the Marshall Islands. The audience was made up of international educators from across the Pacific, students, teachers, and administrators, guests from the US and the elected legislature of the Marshall Islands.  Attendees set an all-time record for the number of people gathered at the International Conference Center.
The Marshall Islands Journal noted that in Fletcher's "moving" presentation he "urged the many teachers to educate and teach others on climate impacts, adding that last year was the hottest year ever recorded. He capitalized on the fact that the two-degree change reported by scientists worldwide would increase wheat demand worldwide -- wheat being the stable food for many Micronesians -- [and wheat] would be less nutritious because of the increased carbon dioxide in the air."
Three UH marine mammals will continue research role at Sea Life Park
Marine Mammal Research Program Director Paul Nachtigall and Kina and BJ.
Three marine mammals involved in hearing and underwater noise studies at the Hawai'i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) for more than 20 years have been relocated to Sea Life Park. Kina, a 40-year-old female false killer whale ( Pseudorca crassidens), and two bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus) -- Boris, a 26-year-old male, and BJ, a 29-year-old female -- came to UH with Paul Nachtigall in 1993 when he founded the Marine Mammal Research Program at Coconut Island in Kāneʻohe Bay.

"It was challenging for the university to pay all needed expenses for Kina, Boris and BJ, so Sea Life Park agreed to take excellent care of them," said Nachtigall. "One should only keep marine mammals if one can afford outstanding veterinary care, the best possible food fish and pay superb trainers to care for them. Because the life span of these marine mammals is about 50 years, we wanted to ensure that this arrangement is a win-win situation for both our animals and marine research."

Read the full story on UH News.
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