Scientists of Tomorrow

CTAHR grad students win ARCS award

  • 1 May 2022
  • Author: Mark Berthold
  • Number of views: 1590
Scientists of Tomorrow

by Shannon Takahashi

Congratulations to graduate students Rina Carrillo and Shannon Wilson for being selected recipients of the 2022 Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation, Honolulu Chapter! Rina and Shannon will be honored May 2 during the ARCS Scholar Awards Banquet at the Outrigger Canoe Club.

Rina, a Dept. of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering PhD student, is researching the impact of global warming and heat stress on plants. Her research is important to the development of crops that are able to withstand heat stress and are more resilient in today’s rapidly changing environment. Her thesis involves “characterizing the function of protein disulfide isomerase (PDI9) in plants, investigating its role in endoplasmic reticulum stress pathways and in mitigating stress-induced abnormalities in Arabidopsis,” she explains. Rina will use the award funds to further her research in PDI9 as she strives toward achieving her PhD.

“I'm grateful to have a student like Rina, who is ardent about her plant research, and who devotes the time to do something the right way” says advisor David Christopher. “She doesn't cut corners, always doublechecks the controls and experimental parameters, and is never satisfied with something she knows can be done better. Rina’s positive attitude is infectious and brightens any room.” 

Entomology student Shannon Wilson of the Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences is working on addressing the biology and behavioral ecology of the invasive two-lined spittlebug in an effort to develop and implement sustainable pest management strategies. Her research involves conducting field surveys to monitor the distribution and abundance of the insect, recording data on plant species composition and host choice, and studying host plant resistance and responses to insect infestation. Shannon’s award money will go toward supporting the costs of analyzing forage samples, travel expenses, and supplies used for greenhouse and field experiments. 

“Shannon has developed into a highly capable, independent PhD researcher, working on a project that poses many challenges,” says advisor Mark Wright. “She has risen to all the challenges, however daunting, and is contributing substantially to solving an important insect pest issue impacting cattle pastures in Hawaiʻi.”

The ARCS Foundation provides funding opportunities for exemplary students conducting research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health. Grantees receive $5,000 in unrestricted grants to advance their research as they progress through their academic journeys.

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