Growing up in the fast paced, Honolulu city, it’s easy to forget that we live on an island with excitingly magnificent, and unique biodiversity. Luckily for me, I was tucked back in the far reaches of Palolo Valley, where mountains surrounded me, the forest was just feet away, and a river ran through my back yard. Living in these conditions, it was easy for me to get interested in biology and science in general. I have been lucky enough to have done different types of research, such as a project, in the mid-lands, testing the water quality of certain streams and springs at Ulupo Heiau in Kailua, Oahu, HI; a project, in the intertidal, on the effects of simulated ocean acidification on hermit crabs’ shell choice; and, a project in Ka‘au Crater on the science behind a Hawaiian mo‘olelo.
All this science fun eventually led me to my passion, using genetics to understand the biodiversity of aquatic organisms. As a Native Hawaiian, I have always felt that there was a distinctive gap between Native Hawaiian science and beliefs, and western science. There is so much knowledge in Native Hawaiian science that I couldnʻt see any other way of conducting science other than integrating Hawaiian culture, science, and beliefs into my research. This type of thinking and doing has allowed me to do the type of research that I love, has introduced me to the type of people that will further my success, and is what has led me on this wonderful journey that I am on.
To learn more about my journey and research, including my recent addition of weekly updates in blog form, check out my website at
ʻIke Wai EPSCOR
Kewalo Marine Laboratory
41 Ahui St, Honolulu, HI 96813
Office: KML 310
Email: melaniek @ hawaii .edu