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Hoʻomaikaʻi #MahiMicrobe2018 Fellows

TheC-MĀIKI#mahimicrobe2018 competition provided opportunities for UH Mānoa graduate students (PhD or MS) to compete for seed funding (up to $5,000) to cultivate, expand and strengthen the incorporation of microbial research into their dissertation or thesis work; and to develop their scientific communication and marketing skills through the promotion and pitch of their research. We encouraged graduate students from any discipline to submit projects that highlight microbes at the foundation of a biological or physical process. The goal of this fellowship competition was to increase scientific literacy in microbiome research and foster trans-disciplinary research collaborations with microbes at the core.

Congratulations to the #Mahimicrobe2018 Award Recipients

$5,000 - Randi Rollins (PI: Rob Cowie)

Summary: This project will identify the microbial communities present in Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) and its obligate hosts (rats and snails) at different stages of the parasite’s life cycle.

$5,000 - Shayle Matsuda (PI: Judy Lemus)

Summary: The project will assess spatial microbial patterning – diversity and composition – within and across individual coral colonies and identify the mechanisms which make corals more susceptible to stress. 

$3,500 - Wesley Sparagon (PI: Craig Nelson)

Summary: This project investigates how coral reef-associated bacteria respond to the combination of thermal stress and algal competition using high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing. Findings from this study will help us better understand how microbial communities affect the fitness of coral reefs during periods of stress.

$3,500 - Solange Saxby (PI: Yong Li)

Summary: Kalo is a nutrient dense food high in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber and it has the potential to be a prebiotic food and to improve gut health. This research project will investigate Kalo'spotentialas a functional prebiotic food by stimulating human digestion and fecal fermentation.

$2,000 - Sarah Tucker (PI: Mike Rappe)

Summary: This research project seeks to define the metabolisms of the most abundant marine microbesat the ecologically-relevant scale of populations and will examine the metabolisms of abundant marine microbesat the surface of nearshore, coastal, and oceanic environments of Kāne‘oheBay, Hawai‘i using a genetic sequencing tool called metatranscriptomics.

$2,000 – Sabrina Diemert (PI: Tao Yan)

Project Title: Iron-reducingbacteria community changes and metagenomics under different water conditions (drinking water vs. wastewater) Summary: This project aims to investigate how iron-reducing bacteria (IRBs) behave in communities and how they change in different environments by growing IRB microcosms. Bacterial community DNA will be analyzedvia 16S amplicon sequencing and metagenomics techniques. The funding from #mahimicrobe2018 will be used to support the cost of training on the Nanopore MinION DNA sequencer with aims to apply this new sequencing technique inthe present study.  

$2,000 - Maria Costantini (PI: Floyd Reed)

Summary:This project seeks to determine the effect of captivity on the endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper ‘Akikiki gut microbiome and to develop better captive breeding practices. 

$1,000 - Andrian Gajigan(PI: Grieg Steward)

Summary: This study will utilize a giantvirus-phytoplankton model system isolated from Hawaiʻi waters to investigate the molecular mechanism of infection. Small RNA and transcriptome sequencing will be performed to facilitate the discovery of novel and evolutionary conserved microRNAs, and to gain insights into the expression patterns of microRNA gene targets, respectively. 

$1,000 - Alexandra Paer(PI: Qing Li)

Summary: This study will determine the effect of microbiomes on absorption and transportation of flavonoids (such as isoorientin and derivatives, which has been implicatedin Alzheimer’s) to the brain and will investigate microbiome metabolism of flavonoids, possibly to smaller molecules that may be more readily absorbed and transported.

Mahalo nui to our amazing panel of judges Dr. Kiana Frank (Assistant Professor, PBRC), Dr. Tara Essock-Burns (Post-Doc, PBRC). Randall Scarborough (Lab Manager, PBRC), Dr. Chad Walton (Research Program Officer, Office of Vice Chancellor, and Donavan Kealoha (Director, Startup Capital Ventures). Mahalo nui to Dr. Matt Medeiros (Assistant Professor, PBRC) and Dr. Brad Jones (Director CNFS, PBRC) for their facilitation of the event.

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