9 December 2022

Four Decades and Counting

TPSS prof is recognized by UHM

Four Decades and Counting

by Kaylee Cordeiro

Kent Kobayashi has reached an exciting milestone of working at CTAHR for 40 years. The professor and researcher in the Dept. of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences has conducted a profusion of studies over the years, all while educating students on LED lighting, controlled environments, hydroponics and much more. A man of many interests, Kent has attained a variety of degrees in his career, but one thing has remained constant: his passion for science.

Kent was born and raised here in Hawai’i and graduated from Hilo High School in 1968. His love for science began in his youth, and this passion to study and learn led to him acquiring four degrees: a B.S. in Entomology, M.A. in Agronomic Crop Science, B.S. in Horticulture, and a PhD in Horticulture. He admits he’s “always loved science fiction,” especially the original Star Trekseries, which he continues to watch and enjoy. He even includes Star Trek references in some of his work.

After college, Kent heard about a job opening at Mānoa, and knew he had to apply. His passion for science led him back home and he was ecstatic. When he and his wife learned he got the job, they “would play the Hawaiʻi Five-O song everyday “ because they could not wait to move back to Hawai’i,” For the next 40 years, he would continue to grow his passion for science in the college.

Today, Kent is in the beginning stages of a new project on controlled environments that will be funded for the next 5 years. He’s also working toward starting two new courses over the next few years. One course will be on scientific communications, which will be focused on mentoring students one-on-one with research they would like to pursue. The other is on controlled environment agriculture.

Kent loves his job so much that he has never looked at a single paycheck in 40 years; he doesn’t even know how much money he earns. He hopes to continue working for as long as he can, simply because he enjoys what he does. Although he tells his wife he is going to retire every year, he admits he is still at Mānoa because he is “still able to work, still interested, excited about working, curious. I love my job, really.”

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