History of Hawaiʻi EPSCoR
Since 2000, Hawai‘i has been an EPSCoR jurisdiction with five total Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 awards, one current RII Track-2, and six prior RII Track-4.
About NSF EPSCoR & Investment Strategies
Visit the National Science Foundationʻs Office of Integrative Activities to learn more about the EPSCoR program and EPSCoR investment strategies.
EPSCoR Projects Timeline
PI: Gwen Jacobs
Award: Track 1; $20,000,000; NSF #2149133
This project aims to develop the appropriate tools and workforce in Hawaiʻi to study and understand the existential threat of climate change on the state. The diverse and complex climate and geography of Hawaiʻi presents unique challenges to measure and gather reliable data to properly monitor weather-related events. These events have been enhanced in frequency and intensity due to the accelerated change in climate. While data at a larger scale is currently available, there is lack of sufficient downscaled products in Hawaii to facilitate modeling of climate impacts, alternative energy planning, and improvement of present-day weather forecasts. Climate science depends on data science, analytics, and visualization to close data gaps, and to develop actionable science and models which in turn will support Hawaiʻi’s transition to a data-driven, “smart” economy. Change(HI) is committed to producing actionable science resulting from data/climate interdisciplinary research. At the same time, the project seeks to train a workforce in computational and climate science that would help diversify and regenerate the Hawaiian economy, which is dependent on tourism. The project will establish multi-campus and multidisciplinary teams in areas such as data science, climate science, cyberinfrastructure, education, and workforce development. Change(HI) will position Hawaiʻi to “harness the data revolution” to confront climate change and support the state’s economic diversification.
FAST: An investigation of tropical cyclone intensity using synthetic aperture radars and complementary satellite ocean observations
PI: Justin Stopa
Award: Track 4; $190,982; NSF #2132150
The project will assist in future research projects associated with satellite missions within the United States. The project will evaluate ocean response as it relates to the storm magnitude and size and directly evaluate the added benefit of synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-derived variables and the underlying theories. The convergence of multiple satellite technologies is expected to provide insights into the coupled ocean-atmosphere system under extreme conditions within TCs. Both improving SAR wind speed retrievals and assessing satellite observations will help NASA plan for future missions especially those involving the retrieval of environmental information within TCs.
PI: Michael Muszynski
Award: Track 2; $3,993,756; NSF #2121410
A collaboration between the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (UH Manoa) and Iowa State University (ISU), which integrates strengths in tropical plant system biology and transformation (UH Manoa) with maize transformation, genome engineering, and breeding (ISU). The project goal is to use gene editing to suppress the photoperiod response in elite, high-yielding tropical maize to promote earlier flowering. The outcomes from this project include new tropical maize transformation capabilities at both jurisdictions, genome editing reagents for modulating flowering in maize, six elite tropical inbreds adapted to temperate breeding programs, a mechanistic understanding of the response to reprogramming the flowering network, and improved skills to communicate the value of this technology in professional and public contexts.
PI: Zhuoyuan Song
Award: Track 4; $185,306; NSF #2032522
This project advances robot navigation, path planning, and coordination in fluid environments, which are fundamental for global ocean sensing and weather forecasting. The proposed research contributes to the foundation of robot autonomy by combing physics-informed, data-driven modeling with classical control and estimation based on first principles.
PI: Jakub Hyvl
Award: Track 4; $214,047; NSF #2033308
The project establishes a robust collaboration between the PI Hyvl’s lab at University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) and the Genzer’s lab at North Carolina State University (NCSU). This research collaboration will investigate copolymerization of organic and organometallic monomers, generating knowledge about fundamental polymer science, exploring varied synthetic alternatives, and ascer-taining the properties of hitherto unknown copolymeric materials.
PI: Yin-Phan Tsang
Award: Track 4; $197,913; NSF #1929155
This NSF EPSCoR RII Track-4 fellowship will support training opportunities for PI Tsang in meteo-hydrological modeling skills and initiate a new and long-term collaboration between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), at Boulder, CO. This project will expand PI Tsang’s current research by allowing her to incorporate advanced atmospheric model information to study complex hydrological systems in Hawaiʻi.
Penetrating the Inner Lives of Leaves to Breed Water-Wise Crops Using Math, 3D Imaging, and Experiments
PI: Christopher Muir
Award: Track 4; $133,971; NSF #1929167
The aim of this project is to figure out if the leaf anatomy of wild relatives can improve the water-use efficiency of crops. To achieve this goal, the PI will integrate existing mathematical representations of carbon and water movement within leaves, parameterize models with 3D images of leaves from wild tomato species, and test model predictions using customized equipment for measuring photosynthesis. The mathematical tools and data collected on wild tomatoes will improve our nation’s ability to grow food sustainably.
Enhancing Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies and Research Funding Opportunities in Sensory Neurobiology through Studies of Crustacean Vision
PI: Megan Porter
Award: Track 4; $137,490; NSF #1738567
Comparing the development of distinct types of animal eyes provides a remarkable ‘natural laboratory’ for understanding how visual systems work, and how animals use visual information to interact with each other and with their environment. This research will study the function of two crustacean species, the mantis shrimp and a copepod, which have vastly different eyes than most other animals. This fellowship will take place in the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware, working with an internationally recognized researcher in crustacean visual physiology and behavior. The fellowship will provide training to the PI and a graduate student in techniques that measure changes in electrical output of cells to characterize changes in eye function over the course of development.
PI: Gwen A. Jacob, University of Hawaiʻi – System
Award: Track 1; $20,000,000; NSF #1557349
This project, titled ʻIke Wai from the Hawaiian words for knowledge and water, will address the critical needs of the state to maintain its supply of clean water, most of which comes from groundwater sources. This supply is under increasing pressures from population growth, economic development, and climate change. Effective management of water resources requires a detailed understanding of the underground geologic features that determine the flow paths of subsurface water; these features are particularly complex in Hawaiʻi due to its volcanic origins and history. This project will greatly improve understanding of where the water that provides for the needs of Hawaiʻi’s cities, farms, and industries comes from and how to ensure a continued, high-quality supply. The project team will engage and collaborate with federal, state, and local agencies and community groups concerned with water management. Training and education initiatives will prepare a diverse workforce capable of meeting the research and policy-making challenges of the future.
PI: Donald Straney
Award: $20M, EPS-0903833
Pacific High Island Evolutionary Biogeography: Impacts of Invasive Species, Anthropogenic Activity and Climate Change on Hawaiian Focal Species
▪ Major STEM pipeline initiative
▪ $139M in leveraged funding
▪ 226 papers published
expand competitiveness in new areas of science, technology and education and improve relationships between academic researchers and local and indigenous communities. This work is helping us to better understand and predict how invasive species, anthropogenic activities, and climate change impact the biodiversity, ecosystem function, and current or potential human use of Hawaiian focal species. Integral components include increasing capacity for cyberinfrastructure (CI), broadening the diversity of the state’s STEM workforce through an enhanced undergraduate and graduate pipeline, and fostering partnerships with the strongly Native Hawaiian-serving UH Hilo and Chaminade University
PI: James Gaines
Award: $9.2M, EPS-0554657
Focused on the continued development of infrastructure to support new faculty and their targeted scientific research programs. IMUA 2 built collaborations between two science teams (Evolutionary and Ecological Genetics (EEG), and Ecosystem Responses to Environmental Change (EREC), and developed core facilities for evolutionary genetic and ecosystem research with sequencing and microarray equipment and sensor platforms.
PI: James Gaines
Award : $8.9M, EPS-0237065
14 new faculty members were hired (5 at UH Mānoa and 9 at UH Hilo). Of the 11 retained, 9 attracted extramural awards exceeding $7M. EPSCoR hires also nucleated a new MS degree in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) at UH Hilo. TCBES has 57 students currently enrolled and has graduated 106 since its inception in 2004. A new TCBES Ph.D. program at UH Hilo is pending