12 students receive ARCS Foundation Honolulu Chapter awardsUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jason Higa was named the 2011 Scholar of the Year following the scholars’ public presentations about their work. The award, carries an additional $1,000 prize. Higa is working on a PhD in cell and molecular biology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. A local boy and UH Mānoa biology major, he earned a master’s degree at the University of San Francisco before returning to Honolulu to pursue his graduate studies. Higa is exploring potential therapeutic applications of an extract from a species of bamboo, and has published findings on its ability to counter inflammation in cells and inhibit tumor development in rats. He pursued the research project because it dealt with breast cancer, a disease afflicting two of his aunts.
The other ARCS Scholars are:
Courtney Angelo, Maybelle Roth Award in Conservation Biology, who is studying the distribution of native and nonnative grasses in Hawaiʻi, work that has implications for management of invasive species.
Siobhán Burns, Sarah Ann Martin Award in Microbiology, who is conducting the first comprehensive study of the role of bacteria in deep-sea octocorals. The baseline data is important in detecting the effects of environmental stressors such as ocean warming and acidification.
William DeMeo, Sarah Ann Martin Award in Mathematics, who is chiseling away at a 50-year-old problem concerning finite algebras through investigation of lattices that will require the help of supercomputing resources on Maui. He previously applied mathematics theory to music.
Corey Fugate, Robert and Doris Pulley Award in Chemistry, who studies the biosynthesis of bioin, or Vitamin B7, a nutrient essential to organisms from humans to tuberculosis bacteria. The process reveals a positive role for a free radical and could suggest a way to kill the TB bacterium.
Katie Kamelamela, Isabella Aiona Abbott Award in Botany supported by HMSA, who plans to pursue research related to preservation of native plants and indigenous cultural practices. She is a former volleyball player and UH Mānoa alumnus.
Jacque Kelly, ARCS Foundation Award in Geology and Geophysics, who uses thermal infrared mapping and water sampling to gauge the amount and composition of groundwater entering Pearl Harbor. She is a Navy wife and member of the Honolulu Community Concert Band.
Yuriy Mikhaylov, Bretzlaff Foundation Award in Engineering, who is studying tsunami loads on typical coastal structures, which could generate suggestions to improve building codes. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s in civil and environmental engineering at UH Mānoa.
Lisa Miller, Sarah Ann Martin Award in Information Science, who studies natural and artificial intelligence, incorporating behavioral learning processes into robotic systems. A non-traditional student, she is a graduate of Hawaiʻi Community College, earned her bachelor’s degree through the UH Center in West Hawaiʻi and has a daughter also attending UH Mānoa.
Margaret Ruzicka, Helen Jones Farrar Award in Tropical Agriculture, who is investigating production of stable peroxidases from palm trees. The enzymes can be used in biosensors for food safety and diagnostic tools and in the production of conductive plastics. She previously received Best Student PhD Oral Presentation honors at the 2011 UH Student Research Symposium and earned her bachelor of science from UH Mānoa.
Vivan U, Columbia Communications Award in Astronomy, who uses telescopes on Mauna Kea to examine the molecular gasses fueling galaxy interactions and mergers. She enjoys travel, food and learning languages.
David Yaylali, Robert and Doris Pulley Award in Physics, who is studying a new particle species called X boson that may help explain the 80 percent of matter not described in the Standard Model of Physics. He traces his fascination with physics to the Carl Sagan TV series Cosmos.
PHOTO CAPTION: 2011 ARCS Foundation-Honolulu Scholars, from left, Katie Kamelamela, William DeMeo, David Yaylali, Jacque Kelly, Corey Fugate, Courtney Angelo, Jason Higa, Siobhán Burns, Margaret Ruzicka, Vivan U, Yuriy Mikhaylov, Lisa Miller.
About ARCS–Honolulu: For more than 50 years, ARCS Foundation, Inc. has been dedicated to helping meet the country’s need for scientists and engineers by providing awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens pursuing graduate education in the sciences, engineering and health. The Honolulu chapter awards 100 percent of donations to University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa scholars; it has provided close to $1.7 million to more than 500 students since the chapter was founded in 1974.