UH-Hilo students honored at 11th annual TCBES Research Symposium

Seven University of Hawaii at Hilo students were recognized for their outstanding research during the 11th annual Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Research Symposium in April.

Undergraduate student Nicolas Vanderzyl won Best Five-Minute Talk for his presentation “Microplastic Accumulation Patterns of a Newly Formed Beach.” His faculty mentor is associate professor of marine science Steve Colbert.


Another undergraduate student, Tyler Gerken, received Best 15-Minute Talk for his project “Soil Sources of Staphylococcus aureus and Fecal Indicator Bacteria in the Hilo Bay Watershed.” Gerken was mentored by professor of marine science Tracy Wiegner.

Graduate student Karen Gallardo took Best 15-Minute Talk for her research on “Examining the Effect of Helicopter Noise on Bird Assemblages in Hawai‘i’s Protected Natural Areas.” She was mentored by department chairman and professor of biology Patrick Hart.

Honorable mention awards in the Poster category were awarded to undergraduate students Duke Escobar and Keinan Agonias for their research, “An Update on the Survey of Antibacterial Efficacy of Native Hawaiian Plant Extracts: Focus on Ohia Lehua and Gram-positive Bacteria,” and Michael Morrissey and Misa Webber, who presented “Modification of Body Regeneration Using Hawaiian Plant Extracts in Planaria.” Both projects were mentored by assistant professor of biology Stan Nakanishi.

“This annual symposium is an outstanding opportunity for students to present their work in a professional forum, to network and to gain valuable organizational management skills,” noted Rebecca Ostertag, director of the TCBES M.S. Program.


The theme of this year’s conference was “Emerging Techniques for Research and Conservation in a Changing Planet.” The annual student-organized symposium highlights undergraduate and graduate research through oral and poster presentations. Students are closely mentored by faculty through research collaboration, exemplifying UH-Hilo’s hands-on approach to learning.

For more information about the UH-Hilo TCBES program, visit http://tcbes.uhh.hawaii.edu/ or email uhhtcbes@hawaii.edu.

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