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COE Staff Member Receives $44K Research Award from UH Sea Grant College Program

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April 20, 2018
Undergraduate Interns at the ‘Ewa Beach intertidal, Photo Credit:  Florybeth F. LaValle

UH Mānoa College of Education (COE) Assistant Specialist Joanna Philippoff was awarded $44K from the University of Hawai‛i Sea Grant College Program. As part of the two-year grant project, Philippoff and Co-Directors Heather Spalding of the Botany Department and Craig Nelson of the Oceanography Department will receive funding for Our Project in Hawai‘i’s Intertidal (OPIHI).

“The Hawaiian intertidal is a culturally important, but understudied, ecosystem composed of a community of organisms uniquely adapted for the challenging living conditions that come from being alternatively submerged and exposed,” Philippoff explained.

The OPIHI project includes two components—a teacher professional development (PD) program and an undergraduate internship program. The PD program trains teachers and K–12 students across the Hawaiian Islands how to survey the intertidal and collect citizen science data. In the year-long internship program, which the grant funds, groups of undergraduate students are immersed in and mentored through the scientific research process. Their research projects have included investigating trampling in the intertidal, tracking algae biomass shifts over time, and mapping benthic community composition with respect to submarine groundwater discharge.

With the COE Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG) since 2010, Philippoff has been working with teachers, K–12 students, undergraduates, and scientific collaborators to characterize the Hawaiian rocky intertidal to determine if and how the community is changing over time. To date, 30 undergraduate interns, 57 teachers, and approximately 1,500 middle and high school students have participated in OPIHI.

“This award will allow my colleagues and me to train two cohorts of 15 undergraduate students each in ecological tools and techniques and to work with scientific collaborators and facilitators to design and carry out rigorous research projects that further our knowledge of Hawai‘i’s intertidal and coastal ecosystems,” Philippoff said.

OPIHI has made significant contributions to science, education, and the community. Participants have not only shown improvement in content knowledge, but they have honed their critical and investigative skills and increased awareness of ecological and conservation issues.


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