Ilsa Kuffner, Ph.D.
Ilsa’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.
Eric 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.
Dr. 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 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.
Claire 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
Megan “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. She is now working as an instructor at Windward Community College.
Paige was first introduced to corals during the summer of 2016 when she completed a 4-week field intensive course researching coral calving in Kane‘ohe Bay, O‘ahu. From this course she realized how important corals are to the ecosystem and began volunteering at the Coral Reef Ecology Lab assisting with various research projects. She graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa with a B.S. in Marine Biology in Spring 2017. Since graduating, she has accepted an position in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands with the monk seal team on Pearl and Hermes.
Tiana received her undergraduate degree at University of Hawai‘i at Manoa majoring in Global Environmental Studies. In fulfillment of her undergraduate senior research thesis, she worked on characterizing the growth and abundance of Pocillopora damicornis recruitment on the sides of mesocosms being used for an NSF grant project. Tiana is currently attending graduate school at Hawai‘i Pacific University to pursue a Masters in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development. She hopes to have a career in climate change and sustainability issues here in Hawai‘i.
Frincess Fleumeria Garcia
Frincess Fleumeria Garcia, also known as Max. Max is from the island of Saipan, one of the islands of the Northern Marianas. She was a fresh graduate of natural resource management (associates in science) from Northern Marianas College, when she came to the Coral Reef Ecology Lab in summer of 2017 for the REU summer internship program with the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. She became interested in environmental science after participating in a summer internship back in 2014 and 2015 in Saipan working under the Bureau of Environmental Coastal Quality with a coral reef monitoring and turtle tagging project. Max took back what she learned while interning in the Coral Reef Ecology Lab to Saipan and continued to help the islands improve their conservation management in marine and terrestrial environments.
John Stewart Joseph
John Stewart Joseph was a summer 2017 REU intern from Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Pohnpei is a Micronesian island located in the tropical North Pacific Ocean and is part of the Federated States of Micronesia. He is interested in marine life and quality because it is an important habitat to Pohnpeians. Natural environments serve as important fisheries and some regions are used in aquaculture. To investigate and improve these habitats, he would like to pursue a graduate degree, master’s or higher. His career goals during the internship where to be involved in the field of science, travel around the world conducting research, and give the next generation some of my knowledge to further their careers in the future. He expressed his desire to set an example for his family, friends, and other generations, so they can achieve many things through hard work and dedication. John is currently working for JABSOM at the University of Hawai’i as the liaison for developing programs to improve health and nutrition in Micronesia.