The scholarships support the graduate studies of future environmental leaders

From left to right, Alyssa Veneri, Lani Musselman and Aston Ramos.

Three graduate students from the University of Hawaii at the Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) have been selected to receive Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation scholarships. The overall goal of these assistantships is to train the next generation of natural resource management leaders in Hawaii.

The students were chosen because of their strong academic records as undergraduates, their connection and integration with the local conservation community, their passion for ʻāina and a keen interest in the preservation and protection of shared and limited natural resources, and their commitment to professional and future efforts to preserve and sustain their local environment. The two-year scholarships for Hawaii high school graduates, which includes tuition waiver, regular stipend and funds for professional development, will help increase the number of qualified graduates Hawaii students and professionals pursuing careers in environmental resource management.

Lani Mousselman

Musselman, a graduate student in oceanography advised by SOEST Faculty Rosie Alegado and Shimi Riistudies the basis of the aquatic food web in the Heʻeia National Estuarine Research Reserve. She studies microscopic phytoplankton to understand how environmental factors inside and outside the fish pond affect their diversity and the resulting health and abundance of fish.

“The data generated by this project will be used to provide a deeper understanding of the biological and ecological impacts of the incredible restoration efforts being made to Heʻeia Fishpond by community organization Paepae o Heʻeia,said Musselman. “I am honored to receive this scholarship, and it will allow me to continue to follow my passions for local conservation and pursue a career in ocean conservation and the protection of marine ecosystems throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”

Aston Ramos

Ramos, who is currently completing a bachelor’s degree at uh Hilo, will be a graduate student in Earth Sciences in the fall of 2022. His work with Professor Henrietta Dulai will be to examine groundwater flows in coastal environments. In his previous research, he determined the quantity and quality of groundwater delivered to coastal areas with various tools that collected radium/radon isotopes, stable nitrogen isotopes, and the presence of pharmaceuticals.

“Water Resources Monitoring Hawaii and contaminants leaching from wastewater sources like septic tanks and other anthropogenic sources provide important information to our communities,” Ramos said. “I greatly appreciate the Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation for their support and for my mentors and peers who nurtured my growth in research.

Alyssa Veneri

Veneri, who is currently finishing his studies at the University of San Diego, will join uh as a graduate student in marine biology. Work with Hawaii Assistant teacher-researcher at the Institute of Marine Biology Elizabeth MadinVeneri will examine the distribution of native corals and invasive algal species and determine how human-induced runoff will affect the spatial distribution of competing species.

“Preserving native ecosystems through conservation research and restoration has always been the most important part of my studies,” Veneri said. “Take the graduate program in marine biology with the help of the Hauʻoli The Mau Loa Foundation Graduate Studies Assistant will allow me to combine my undergraduate degree in Environmental and Ocean Sciences with my love and responsibility for Hawaii ecosystems”.

This program is an example of uh Mānoa’s goal of improving student achievement (PDF), one of the four objectives defined in the Strategic Plan 2015-2025 (PDF), updated December 2020.

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