Haskell Student Travels to Hawai’i for Summer Internship

Traveling over 3,700 miles across the country and over the Pacific Ocean was not how I invisioned on spending my summer.

I was accepted to the 2018 Pacific Internship Programs Exploring Sciences (PIPES). PIPES is a university level project-based internship program housed within the Office of Re- search at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

42 other aspiring scientists including myself had the wonderful opportunity to be selected to work on projects that were assigned to us individually. These specific topics for each of us were selected based off our responses in the interview processes. Our projects reflected our future goals and brought out our academic and individual strengths. Each intern had a different project from one another and were placed across the islands of Hawai‘i and other various Pacific islands for the summer.

I was placed in the Spatial Digital Analysis and Visualization lab (SDAV lab) located at the University of Hawai‘i Hilo. Timothy Sullivan,
a geospatial research specialist, was designated as my mentor for the duration of the summer in the SDAV lab. He works in this lab where coastal erosion, Mauna Kea erosion, lava flow, and Rapid Ohia Death (ROD) are accessed particularly. The main focal points that were tasked as a research intern for PIPES was to conduct observational research (in my case), while creating a scientific essay and a final oral presentation of my research.

My research project was on Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) which is a symptomatic term. ʻŌhiʻa lehua is a dominant high canopy tree throughout native Hawai‘i forests. This tree has continuously been affected by a fungus called Ceratocystis. The species that have been attacking this tree are lukuohia and huliohia which were just established and named this year. My research focused on using small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) or better known as drones, to collect imagery of native ʻōhiʻa forests on the big island of Hawai‘i. I took this data collected by the drones and created maps to analyze the tree height and canopy size to see how susceptible these particular trees were to this airborne fungus. I used ArcGIS, TRW, and Pix4D software to create these maps and to analyze them on the computer.

This internship offered me various skills that I may apply to my future work and educational goals. It has also shaped me even more into the person I wish to become. I am grateful for the opportunity that I was granted to me this summer and the wonderful mentor that was chosen
for me. I learned so much from this opportunity and it is hard to sum up everything that I experienced and encountered during my time on the big island of Hawai‘i. I encourage all Haskell students to pursue their career passions through internship experience. I feel it is the best way to get to know what you like and do not like with the career goals you set. Mind you that I saw a flyer promoted by the Student Success Center for this summer internship. The opportunities are just at one’s grasp, just reach out to those opportunities offered and see where they may take you. Never know if you might end up over 3,700 miles away across the Pacific Ocean.

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