Hawaiian Single Sea Urchin Makes Kapi?olani Student a Winner at SACNAS

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SACNAS was founded in 1973 by a group of minority scientists and later incorporated in 1986 under the name of Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, Inc. SACNAS is a tax-exempt organization and its member scientists are dedicated to nurturing the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists to attain advanced degrees, careers and positions of leadership in science.

Every year, a SACNAS National Conference convenes its diverse membership and showcases cutting-edge science, training, and unique research from undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and career professionals who are in various stages of their career as they advance towards positions of science leadership.

Kapi?olani Community College

Awardee Melanie Keliipuleole center) with mentor Kenzie Manning left) and professor Chris Bird.

The theme of this year’s 2014 SACNAS National Conference was, “Creativity, Vision, & Drive: Toward Full Representation in STEM.” This conference was held on October 16-18 in Los Angeles, California. This year’s conference attracted more than 3,800 attendees who shared scientific research presentations, professional development, networking opportunities, exhibits, culture and community. There were approximately 1,200 presentations devoted to research, but only 100, or less than 10 percent of the projects were given awards.

Melanie Keliipuleole of Kapi?olani Community College’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program was the only student from a two-year institution in Hawai’i to win an award. James Murphy of the University of Hawaii at M?noa also won an award for his oral presentation on Hawaiian Corals.

Melanie won her award for her undergraduate research and poster presentation on the H??uke?uke, or the Hawaiian Single Sea Urchin. Through extensive research, Melanie discovered that the H??uke?uke has a genetic connectivity to Hawaiian culture and is mentioned in the Hawaiian Creation Story, or Kumulipo. Fascination for research sparks Melanie’s interest and she would like to major in Marine Biology at the University of Hawai’i and then go away for graduate research.

Melanie’s faculty advisor for her project was Mackenzie Manning.