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A Journey of Science and Heritage: Being Featured in Noelo's 2023 Cover Story

I can hardly express the profound sense of honor and gratitude that fills my heart as I write this blog post. Being featured as the cover story of Noelo's 2023 magazine, published by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is a momentous milestone in my life and career as a scientist.

From a very young age, I knew I was destined to be a scientist. The seeds of my curiosity were sown by the tales of my great grandmother, stories that drew me into the enchanting world of the lepo ʻai ʻia (edible mud) in Kawainui Marsh. Her account of this magical substance, consumed by King Kamehameha the Great's warriors, was enough to ignite my youthful imagination. The prospect of a taste similar to my beloved paʻiʻai (pounded taro) was tantalizing, but there was a catch—a vow of absolute silence during the gathering of the mud. Undeterred, I embarked on my silent expedition, sampling the various colors and textures of mud in the marsh (none of which were particularly delectable). Little did I know that this childhood adventure would be the genesis of my journey as a scientist. It refined my kilo (observational skills) and ignited a deep sense of ecological inquiry that would become my life's passion.

"I did not become a scientist, I was born a scientist because my kūpuna (ancestors) before me were natural scientists," I proudly shared. "For me, science is how I connect to and better understand the places I love. Science is my tool to mālama ʻāina (protect, care for the land)."

To be featured in Noelo's 2023 cover story is a remarkable recognition of my journey, but it is also a celebration of the invaluable knowledge passed down through generations. It is an acknowledgment of the collective efforts to protect and preserve our land and culture. I extend my deepest gratitude to the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation for this incredible honor, and I am humbled to continue the work of my ancestors, bridging science and heritage.

For more about my work at PBRC, please explore Noelo's 2023 cover story. It is a testament to the power of curiosity, perseverance, and the enduring connection between science and culture. Mahalo nui loa for sharing in this remarkable journey with me.


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