Two ELP RAs Receive Ocean Conservation Award

ELP RAs Tehani Louis-Perkins ‘22 and Joel Burgess ‘23 were recently named Ocean Conservation Awardees. The award is part of a new program at the University of Hawai‘i system that trains and awards students actively involved in conserving the living resources of the ocean.

“The Ocean Conservation Award program is a wonderful way to recognize, support, and mentor students who wish to make a positive difference for our oceans,” said program manager Dr. Mark Hixon, the Hsiao Endowed Professor of Marine Biology in the School of Life Sciences at UH Mānoa.

Thanks to funding from the Global High Seas Marine Preservation organization, Louis-Perkins, Burgess, and eight other Ocean Conservation Awardees will each receive $1,000 to complete a project focused on sea life conservation and public outreach. Each student will develop and implement their project under the guidance of a faculty mentor with expertise on ocean conservation issues.

Burgess is already looking forward to starting his initiative, “Reducing marine plastics – legal solutions to a wicked problem,” under the mentorship of ELP Professor Denise Antolini. 

“I’m excited just to learn more about how different jurisdictions are tackling this issue and applying those solutions to Hawai‘i,” he said.

Louis-Perkins will also work with Professor Antolini on her project, “Protecting marine limu – a proposal for Puaʻena Limu Management Area,” which she has a special connection to. 

“I am excited to explore which statutory angle would be best for the community and for the area,” she said. “Also, I get to focus on my own community which I am really happy about.”

Professor Antolini, likewise, expressed her support and enthusiasm for the work that Louis-Perkins and Burgess will embark on soon.

“Tehani and Joel are ideal representatives of the Environmental Law Program in this inaugural cohort of ocean conservation awardees,” she said. “They are planning to tackle exciting projects that are local and global, from limu protection to the plastics problem. 

“As their mentor in this new program, I look forward to connecting them with the other amazing faculty mentors and student awardees. This kind of interdisciplinary opportunity is particularly exciting for law students and something that ELP is proud to be a part of.” 

The other eight student awardees will focus on a variety of projects across academic disciplines:

  • Kanoʻeaunainoa Awo (Hawaiian Studies, UH Mānoa; mentored by Assistant Professor Noelani Puniwai): “Kiaʻi Kai–kuleana for Hawaiʻi’s oceans”
  • Helena Bakutis-Kekaula (Hawaiian Studies, UH Mānoa; mentored by Assistant Professor Puniwai): “Kiaʻi Kai–kuleana of visitors to Hawaiʻi’s shorelines for conserving our ocean”
  • Kalā Diaz (Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian Language, UH Mānoa; mentored by Assistant Specialist Kawika Winter): “He Aliʻi ke Kai–developing a pilot ocean conservation education program for a youth paddling club”
  • Sydney Lewandowski (Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM), UH Mānoa; mentored by Faculty Instructor Mahealani Kaneshiro): “The art of preventing the marine plastic problem”
  • Kara Murphy (Marine Science, UH Hilo; mentored by Marine Option Program Chair and Marine Science Instructor Lisa Parr): “Translating the marine impact of the non-compostability of plastics to improve community awareness”
  • Caterina Maria “Micat” Po (NREM, UH Mānoa; mentored by Faculty Instructor Kaneshiro): “Conserving overlooked marine fishes and invertebrates through graphic design”
  • Cecelia Rudo (Marine Science, UH Hilo; mentored by Marine Option Program Chair and Marine Science Instructor Parr): “Expanding community-based coral reef health training in east Hawaiʻi using Eyes of the Reef methodology”
  • Ronja Steinbach (Marine Biology, UH Mānoa; mentored by Associate Professor Anthony Amend): “Identifying marine fungi with potential for plastic degradation”

JU 10/26/21

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