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UH Hilo TCBES graduate program receives $2 million


The University of Hawaii at Hilo has announced that $2 million from the National Science Foundation’s Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program has been released for years 4 and 5 of the CREST Center in Tropical Ecology and Evolution in Marine and Terrestrial Environments project.

The funds support the UH Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) Graduate Program as it develops into a center of excellence for research and training for Hawaii and the Pacific.

UH Hilo’s CREST Program includes three research teams and is led by Dr. Donald Price, director of TCBES, who oversees Center activities, strategic development, and planning.

Team leaders are Dr. Elizabeth Stacy, EGES (Evolutionary Genomics and Ecology of Local Adaptation and Speciation) Team, Dr. Misaki Takabayashi, Coral Reef Ecosystem (CRE) Team, and Dr. Patrick Hart, Terrestrial Ecology and Climate Change (TECC) Team.

“The EGES Team will work to understand how native plants, animals and fungi respond to environmental change over the short term through gene expression changes, and over the long term through the formation of new species,” Price said. “The CRE Team will focus on links between water quality and the health of corals and coral reef food-web along Hawaii Island’s coastlines, and the TECC Team will use the dramatic environmental gradients on Hawaii Island as a model system to further understand the long-term impacts of climate change on forest dynamics, bird and plant community structure, and species interactions.

“Through NSF CREST funding, this campus is enabling our faculty to improve their research prowess as well as their mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students,” Price said. “We continue to engage our students in rigorous research studies as a means to broaden their experience in the sciences and technology so their educations are relevant to the global society we live in and will prepare them for the many challenges and opportunities of the 21st century workplace.”

All teams are engaging students in challenging field and laboratory research as well as ensuring that the students present their results at both local and national scientific conferences.

Students are given the opportunity to engage in exchanges with other universities, and to present their methods and results in the annual TCBES Symposium each spring on the UH Hilo campus.

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