Aloha! The ARCS Foundation National Board meeting from January 25-27, 2024, in Honolulu showcased Hawaii’s deep respect for nature and the environment through food, meetings, and tours.
University of Hawai‘i President Dr. David Lassner opened the meeting with a welcome reception on the lanai of UH’s Historic residence overlooking a sweeping green lawn dotted with exciting trees and colorful birds. He congratulated ARCS Foundation on its 65 anniversary and Honolulu on its 50th and spoke about the university’s responsibility to the indigenous population.
Honolulu Co-President Cheryl Ernst also shared a bit of Hawaiian culture, opening business sessions with chants that conveyed the meaning of Aloha and called to the rising sun.
Following the Friday Board Forum on the main Mānoa campus, attendees enjoyed a box lunch featuring local foods (including avocado, mango, Okinawan sweet potato, and breadfruit chips) prepared by the College of Tropical Agriculture chef. ARCS Scholar Alumni hosted afternoon tours—Director Dr. Doug Simons at the Institute of Astronomy and Dr. Anthony Amend at his Microbial Diversity, Ecology and Environment Laboratory. One group visited a bo tree, as the Buddha sat under it when he gained enlightenment. Later, attendees enjoyed a different kind of “fulfillment” at the legendary Duke’s Restaurant in Waikiki.
Saturday took the group to the UH’s John A. Burns School of Medicine for the National Board meeting, tours, and the Honolulu Chapter’s 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Luncheon. ARCS Scholar Alumna Dr. Philomène Verlaan, an esteemed oceanographer and lawyer, gave the keynote presentation on the critical role scientists play in informing policy by providing facts while withholding opinions. She cited examples from her experience as a researcher on deep sea ocean nodules and advisor to the Law of the Sea convention. Philomène thanked ARCS for the ARCS Scholar Award that funded her sea and island research. Watch her talk on the ARCS Honolulu YouTube channel.
At the meeting, the ARCS National Board voted to include Marine Biology as an approved area of study, making the field eligible for Scholar Awards. The board also approved the interdisciplinary Marine Biology PhD program at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. ARCS can now fund Scholar Awards to students in the program.
In the 50 years since the Honolulu chapter was founded, several of their 600+ scholars have earned PhDs with a biological focus in Oceanography or marine focus in Zoology, Botany and even Tropical Agriculture. This year, the chapter will surpass $2.5 million in total support for UH doctoral students.
Those who didn’t have to rush back to the Mainland enjoyed optional tours organized by the Honolulu chapter. Member Patty Lee, a geologist, pointed out features of the island’s volcanic history en route to talks and tastes at the Waialua Estates Chocolate cacao farm and Ko‘olau Distillery. Member Dr. Jacquie Maly opened a Windward Community College science lab so the group could enjoy a picnic lunch of Hawaiian food out of the rain.
On Monday, an intrepid group braved stormy winds to boat across Kane‘ohe Bay to visit UH’s Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology on Moku o Lo‘e. The island is popularly known as Coconut Island and appears in the opening credits of Gilligan’s Island. Fortunately, our group did return from its three-hour tour, which included a touch tank, shark pen, and laboratories where ARCS scholars study octopi and corals. The bay is also the birthplace of the Honolulu chapter—the late Barbara Pauley invited island friends to her family’s vacation home to propose an ARCS expansion to Hawai‘i in 1974.
The tour concluded with a visit to He‘eia Wetlands led by ARCS Scholar Alumna and water quality expert Dr. Yoshimi Rii, who described community participation in the reclamation process to restore the traditional taro loi (garden) and fishpond ecosystem.
Mahalo to the Honolulu Chapter for sharing Hawaiian culture and traditions, Barb Gorgen for coordinating logistics, and Patty Sparrell and Linda Their for organizing the Uber caravans. View all the photos here.