UCSD GELS Hawai'i













In this GELS program, students work with University of Hawai’i Hilo faculty and researchers from the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC) and the Marine Analytical Laboratory to explore the diverse ecosystems and climate zones of the Big Island of Hawai'i and are exposed to how the island thrives ecologically, economically, culturally and socially.

PACRC provides the infrastructure to support world-class aquaculture, marine science, and conservation biology programs at UH Hilo. The Center actively conducts interdisciplinary research and development in coastal areas throughout the world. It has two primary facilities: a 12-acre coastal site at Keaukaha, adjacent to the port of Hilo, and an inland site at Panaʻewa, six miles away. The Keaukaha facilities include a water quality laboratory, mollusk hatchery and marine fish hatchery. The primary purposes of the Panaʻewa site are health management and integrated agriculture-aquaculture farming systems. State-of-the-art quarantine facilities allow work on exotic species while reuse of nutrient-enriched waters including aquaponics are demonstrated as methods to improve efficiency and profitability of local farms.

The UH Hilo Analytical Laboratory was established in 2003 with a National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant. The primary focus is supporting ecological research and water quality studies while providing analytical services for researchers throughout the UH System as well as Federal and State agency research projects in Hawaii.

 During the program students visit Volcanoes National Park to learn about the geologic processes that formed these Islands. They actively collect data about nutrient analysis of water samples, plant materials, plankton and coral reef health. They keep written and pictorial journals of data they collect and are expected to present to the class what they have learned about man’s impact on the environment, steps that need to be taken to better the environment, and how they plan to take a leadership role in becoming an “Alaka’i I ka Malama Honua” (Leader in caring for the earth).




July 30-August 5, 2017


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