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by Jessica S. McDunn, University Relations


A living, breathing classroom. That is what HPU students experience when working or taking classes at Oceanic Institute at Makapu‘u.

Some natural science majors are taking advantage of opportunities to incorporate research studies at the institute with their usual course load. “There’s a much greater connection with the environment than in the average classroom for the students,” said Dr. Chris Winn, director of the marine environmental science programs at HPU.

“ I chose to attend HPU because the natural sciences programs allowed me to focus on what interested me,” said Maile Waiwaiole, an HPU senior and 2003 Pearl City graduate. “It is also important to me that HPU offers smaller class sizes so I can work closely with my teachers.”
Dr. Winn points out that in the classroom and research activities at OI, HPU students are able to integrate fieldwork, experiments, and lab analysis into their undergraduate educational activities while working with professional scientists on a variety of cutting edge research projects.

Marine biology sophomore Ben Moorman and marine biology freshman Hendry Sukendy are earning course credit for working with nutrition research scientist Dr. Ian Forster and nutrition department director Dr. Warren Dominy in the OI feeds program to improve and develop feeds for the growing global aquaculture industry. These students are therefore not only getting a strong education in the science of the sea, but are working with professionals on the cutting edge of aquaculture science.
The affiliation between HPU and OI is providing HPU students with internships and practical experiences that allow them to pursue a variety of careers in ocean science.

“ One of the real advantages is that laboratory practicum courses are being taught by OI scientists who are folding HPU students into their research projects,” added Winn. “This is an incredible opportunity to introduce the real-life aspect to our students.”

Marine biology senior Brandi Kivi is working with associate chemistry professor Dr. David Horgen, testing marine organisms for substances that may lead to the development of powerful new drugs to treat brain injury patients. Horgen’s team is culturing algae, sponges, mollusks, sea squirts, and marine bacteria and fungi to see if they may contain new compounds that protect human cells from injury.

“ The work we’re doing has the potential to lead to new drugs, or help other researchers investigate how cells work. We are never sure exactly where it will lead, but we know we’re adding to the scientific body of knowledge,” said Horgen.

Educational activities at OI are also providing unique opportunities for HPU students. Blade Shepherd-Jones, B.S. in marine biology 2006, and current Master of Education in secondary education student at HPU, taught the oceanography course offered this past summer at Oceanic Institute through the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) program. Based in part on his experience teaching science to the CTY students, Shepherd-Jones is now working at Kailua High School.

These practical and hands-on experiences help HPU science students earn positions with organizations all over the world, including Bishop Museum, U.S. Coast Guard, Sea Life Park, Oceanic Institute, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For more information on HPU programs offered, call 236-5853.



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