Lab Alumni

Ilsa Kuffner, Ph.D.

Ilsa_Kuffner.jpgIlsa’s career in tropical marine biology started at the Bermuda Biological Station as an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates fellow in 1992. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire, she moved back to Bermuda where she studied coral reproduction with Robbie Smith in the BERP Lab and worked in Dr. Hank Trapido-Rosenthal’s Molecular Biology Lab. Next adventure was graduate school, so she made up her mind that she would work with the world’s expert on coral reproduction, Paul Jokiel. She attend the University of Hawai‘i from 1994 to 1999, and had the privilege of being part of Paul’s science family at the Point Lab. After receiving her PhD in 1999, she had a series of short-term jobs at marine laboratories around the world: a yearlong post-doc with Valerie Paul at the U. of Guam, a year as co-director of Forfar Field Station, Andros Island, Bahamas, and then resident faculty for the School for Field Studies in the Turks & Caicos Islands. She finally got a “real” job at the U.S. Geological Survey in 2002 as a Research Marine Biologist at the St. Petersburg, Florida office, and has been there since. Her work focuses on the causes and effects of coral reef degradation, and explores local- to global-scale stressors on reefs by testing how sea-surface temperature, water quality, seawater chemistry, nuisance macroalgae, and ocean acidification affect coral growth, the community structure of reefs, and the process of reef building.

Steve Kolinski, Ph.D.

Steven studied biology and chemistry at the University of Oregon where he graduated in 1988. His early marine ecology experience was gained through Peace Corp service and subsequent employment with the Yap State Government, Federated States of Micronesia. Steve earned his Masters Degree (2001) and Ph.D. (2004) at the University of Hawaii in Zoology with a focus on coral reef ecology; Dr. Paul Jokiel was his mentor and Committee Chair. Currently, Steve serves with the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Pacific Islands Regional Office Habitat Conservation Division where he focuses on coral reef impact assessment and regulatory processes in Pacific Island areas under U.S. jurisdiction.

Eric Brown, Ph.D.

Argo_Sub_Eric2.jpgEric is the Marine Ecologist for Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai, Hawaii. He received his B.S. degree in Marine Biology from Occidental College in 1981, his M.S. in Biology from Texas A&M University in 1986 and his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Hawaii in 2004. His Ph.D. research work focused on coral reef community ecology, specifically spatial and temporal trends in community structure at six reefs on Maui. After moving to Hawai‘i in 1986, Eric worked with the Pacific Whale Foundation on documenting the recovery and general biology of humpback whales and other endangered marine mammals. In 1989 he branched out into coral reefs and served as principal investigator for 9 years on Maui’s Threatened Reef project with the foundation. He joined the Coral Reef Ecology Lab just as the Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program began. His current research focus at Kalaupapa and across the state examines coral recruitment dynamics, long-term trends in coral community structure, and watershed activities in relation to the condition of the marine environment.

In his spare time, Eric participates in community service projects that help local communities understand their neighboring environment. He also participates in the National Geographic Pristine Seas project as one of their coral reef scientists. This global project focuses on exploring and protecting some of the last truly wild places in the ocean and enables Eric the opportunity to dive and survey some of the most beautiful reefs on the planet.

Ben Richards, Ph.D.

Ben started his career in marine biology at the NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary working on the effects of the aquarium trade on coral reef fishes within the Sanctuary. While working for NOAA in Florida, Ben participated in a 2001 research expedition to the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to assist with the creation of the first satellite-based benthic habitat maps. This is where he met Paul, the irresistible force that insisted he come to Hawaii to work on coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific.

Ben graduated under Paul Jokiel in 2011. He completed his PhD in reef fish ecology, working with NOAA to study the effects of natural and anthropoengic factors on the distribution of reef fish across the pacific. He now holds a position of Research Fishery Biologist and Lead Survey Scientist with the Stock Assessment Program at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, where he is working to develop the first multi-gear, operational fishery-independent survey for the Main Hawaiian Islands Bottomfish Stock. Ben also serves as a member of the NOAA Fisheries Advanced Sampling Technologies Working Group and as the chair of the NOAA Fisheries Strategic Initiative on Automated Image Analysis.

Franklyn Tan Te, Ph.D.

Untitled1.pngDr. Franklyn Tan Te received his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa under the guidance of Dr. Paul Jokiel. Franklyn worked on the effects of sedimentation on Hawaiian corals and focused on the impact of human-induced pollution on the health and ecology of coral reefs. Dr. Te also received his Masters degree in Marine Biology from the University of Guam where he worked on the effects of petroleum products on coral reef larvae. Dr. Te’s expertise include taxonomy, ecology and biology of coral reefs; habitat monitoring via environmental surveys and impact assessment; marine environmental toxicology via pesticide and pollution research; marine science education and training via experiential hands-on activities; and human anatomy, physiology and nursing skills instruction via field tested practical activities. Dr. Te is knowledgeable in FOUR languages -English, Chinese, Spanish and Tagalog (Philippine national language) and has taught extensively in both third world developing nations and first world highly developed and industrialized nations. Dr. Te helped design and build the Marine Biology Program at the College of the Marshall Islands and assisted in securing Land Grant and Sea Grant funding for that college. Dr. Te is now a Full Professor at Miami Dade College and is building study abroad programs emphasizing marine sciences with many universities in China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Aside from his love for teaching, Dr. Te is also an avid fisherman, SCUBA diver and wildlife conservation enthusiast. Dr. Te’s motto for success is: “Find reasons to succeed and NOT excuses to fail”

Erik Franklin, Ph.D.

Erik earned a PhD in Zoology from the University of Hawai‘i with Dr. Paul Jokiel studying the spatial ecology of Hawaiian coral reefs. He is currently an Assistant Research Professor at HIMB and serves as graduate faculty in Marine Biology, Geography, and Zoology at UH. Dr. Franklin is also a faculty participant in the NOAA Fisheries Quantitative Ecology and Socioeconomics Training program, a JIMAR Senior Fellow, and a member of the Scientific and Statistical Committee of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. When not pondering the mechanics of the natural world, he enjoys time with family and being on or in the ocean.

Kaipo Perez III, Ph.D.

Kaipo.JPGKaipo was born in Honolulu and was raised in Kaimuki, Waimānalo, and Kohala. He grew up in an ‘ohana lawaia or fishing family and was taught lessons of stewardship and conservation. He received his BS in Marine Biology from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. He then went on to purse his PhD in Zoology in 2009 at UHM and graduated in 2013. Kaipo’s research focused on evaluating coral reef resources at Kahalu‘u Bay, Hawai‘i as well as bridging the gap between culture and science in order to provide a holistic approach for resource management. He currently holds the position of Marine Biologist at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Megan Ross, Ph.D.

Megan began her career at the Maui Community College before transferring to UH Mānoa. She graduated with her PhD under PaulJokiel’s direction in 2015. Following her graduation she began lecturing at the University of Hawai‘i-West O‘ahu. She recently secured a permanent position there as an Assistant Professor in the Math/Science Department teaching biology and oceanography.

Claire Lager, M.Sc.

ClaireClaire Lager graduated with her masters degree from UH Mānoa in 2016, studying the impacts of nearshore stressors on the early life stages of Hawaiian corals. Before attending graduate school with Paul Jokiel as her advisor, Claire spent four years as a research and field technician in the Coral Reef Ecology Lab. She plans to continue Paul’s legacy and work towards coral reef conservation. She is currently employed as the lab manager at the Cryopreservation lab under the direction of Dr. Mary Hagedorn at HIMB.


Megan Akiko Onuma

Akiko.pngMegan “Akiko” is a graduate student in the Marine Biology program who earned her M.S. degree in 2017.  She is funded through the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.  Her research centers on understanding algae metabolism under climate change conditions, focusing on “gorilla ogo” (Gracilaria salicornia).  She is originally from the island of Lana’i.