Chaminade NSM News

Issue 1: Graduation Edition

Big image

Our Mission

Chaminade's Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics prepares Hawaii's next generation of scientists, health practitioners, environmental specialists, leaders and policymakers to confront community, State and global challenges to health equity, environmental sustainability and justice. Through integrating research and education at the interface of science and culture, DNSM prepares STEM professionals from the Pacific, for the Pacific.

Welcome to our Graduation Edition!

We are happy to share with you our newsletter for the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics at Chaminade University of Honolulu featuring highlights and events occurring with our fine faculty, students and staff. Please enjoy!

In this edition:

Congrats Grads | Faculty Focus | Pub News | Student Spotlight | Alumni Update


Congratulations Graduating Students!

Congratulations to all of the DNSM graduates! We are so proud of you. Though this is the end of our journey together, it is not goodbye as you will always be a part of our NSM ohana. Good luck in your future endeavors and write home once in a while.

B.S. Biochemistry and Forensic Science

Sheryl Anne Bermudez

B.S. Biochemistry

Jose Miguel Alpuerto , Kiana Annunziata, Jamie McCormack

B.A. or B.S. Integrative and Organismic Biology

Susan Garza, Leah Phipps, Cuahutli Rocha

B.S. Cellular and Molecular Biology

Janela Agonoy, Russell Corpuz, Kailee Marin, Emma Smith, Villiann-Mae Yomai

B.S. Environmental Studies

Jennifer Burns, Ulualepapa Faleali'i, Cheri Friend, Cameron Heen, Jessamyn Kedl, Ernesto Olmos, Laura Spiegel

B.S. Forensic Science

Lawrence Birch, Brandon Fierro, Lizabeth Hart, Ashlie Lyn Kamimoto, Lauren Limtiaco, Julie Lozano, Tyeanne Lubking, Chastity Nakamura, Alexis Peterson, Katrina Pulido, Brianna Scullion, Nadia Works , Corinne Zelanis

M.S. Forensic Science

Kerlene Berwick Tam, Christian Concepcion, Amber Corpuz, Carlos Gutierrez, Emily Junkins, Nahulumaikalani Kahananui, Whitney Kodama, Olina Young

Faculty Focus: Dr. Claire Wright, Assistant Professor Biology

Dr. Claire Wright is an Assistant Professor of Biology and Principal Investigator in the Fetal Membrane Integrity Research Laboratory here at Chaminade University.

As her students would attest to, Dr. Wright spends a lot of time talking about neuroanatomy, a lot of it, which is a surprise to most of her students, because the lab she runs works with fetal membrane tissue. However, her background in neuroanatomy stems from the Master's project she did using human surgical specimens from patients who suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy. Dr. Wright's career took off with a neuropathology Ph.D. position working on Alzheimer’s disease in concert with Glaxo-Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline), and later she received a grant from Glaxo as a postdoctoral researcher. In 2004, she moved to the John A. Burns School of Medicine on a post-doc project looking at the importance a new inflammatory molecule and pathway in the field of reproduction.

After JABSOM, Dr. Wright came to Chaminade. She says, “I really like teaching undergraduate students. [They] are broad enough to just like it, because they like it.” Of her experiences here at Chaminade, she says that what she likes the most is the small class sizes. Large classes with loads of students in a massive room lack the connection to the instructor that Chaminade affords her. Small class sizes are more interactive, have some back and forth, allow for doing activities to keep students interested. “It’s way more rewarding as an instructor, to see the light bulb moments, to have that feedback. You end up having students for multiple hours in the same week and you get to know about them and what they want for their lives, and that’s much more rewarding.”


Dr. Wright’s lab looks at the physical dynamic properties of fetal membranes and how inflammation drives remodeling of the tissues and how this changes gene expression. as Hawai`i has unusually high prematurity rates, which is both a socioeconomic health disparity and an ethnic disparity. “When you look at the impact of prematurity in Hawai`i, it's really scary…the impact in Hawaii is huge, a huge financial burden; it's 10 times more expensive to have a premature baby just in terms of health care costs...”

Recently, her lab graduated two UH Mānoa Master’s students, one of which investigated distention gene expression changes and protein secretions from fetal membranes while the another worked on building some of the three dimensional models the lab uses. “One of the things that I'm most proud of the lab is that everybody at every level has won some kind of recognition prize, whether it's undergraduate students or post-doc [presentation] or the focus cover of a doesn't matter what level you are, you can still contribute, you can still do good quality work and that's awesome!”

Claire Wright, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Principal Investigator: Fetal Membrane Integrity Research Laboratory

Joint Appointment: Non-compensated Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii


Publication News: Science Vol 351, Issue 6269

Congratulations Dr. David Carter, Director & Associate Professor of Forensic Science at Chaminade University of Honolulu, on his recent collaborative article published in Science! To read the article, click the title below.


Student Spotlight: Hyo Park, Biochemistry Major

Hyo Park grew up around the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania before joining the United States Navy, where he was stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as a search and rescue swimmer and a computer technician for the ballistic missile defense program. After leaving the military, Hyo decided to attend Chaminade University and major in Biochemistry with a minor in English.

With Principal Investigator Dr. Michael Weichhaus, he is currently studying the way cancer cells gain their metabolic energy and if this can be used as a future target for cancer therapies. He said, “Working in the lab, I have learned the importance of time management. It helps to be prepared and visualize what needs to be accomplish before applying it to a practical setting.” Dr. Weichhaus said that Hyo really stood out as a freshman in his BI205/206 Cell and Organismal Biology class; he was not satisfied with just knowing the information provided in lecture but always probed further until fully understanding the concepts. Last summer, Hyo started working in Dr. Weichhaus’ lab, where his extreme meticulous nature has made him a valuable asset to the research lab. His academic achievements resulted in Hyo being awarded the INBRE student fellowship in successful semesters. Dr. Weichhaus said of Hyo, “I know [he] wants to continue his education with a medical degree, but I haven’t given up hope that he may want to join research permanently.”

Hyo has dreams of attending medical school and pursuing an M.D., but is considering the idea of an M.D./Ph.D. or an M.D./MPH. With whatever free time he has, Hyo teaches Sunday school, tutors, and volunteers at the Center for Aging at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He also tries to enjoy the outdoors as much as he can by surfing and hiking, but more than anything, he enjoys eating. "My friends and professors have been my mentors throughout the process, and I believe Chaminade's unique environment allows students to foster their interests and prosper.”


Alumni Update: Anthony Junker, Sp 2015 B.S. Cellular and Molecular Biology

Anthony Junker is currently with the School of Medicine’s Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado, Anshutz Medical Campus in Denver. He says, “It is a very collaborative and positive program which places emphasis on critical thinking.” Anthony’s program has him rotating with several Principal Investigators including Dr. Bruce Appel's lab where he examined the effect of Her9 on oligodendrocyte migration in zebrafish. Currently, Anthony has joined Dr. Chad Pearson's lab where they are working on the role of Bbc31 in basal body organization and stability of the ciliate-protozoa Tetrahymena. Part of his role in this experiment is to use Immuno-Electron Microscopy in combination with fluorescent imaging to gain better insight into the structure and function of these basal bodies (see pictures below).

Anthony looks fondly at his experiences here at Chaminade. In Dr. Wright’s lab, Anthony worked on telomere length and telomerase expression in cells isolated from human tissues. The cell lines the Dr. Wright’s lab uses grow differently in varying in vitro environments, so Anthony’s project was important for the lab to understand more about why these cells behave the way they do and to identify if they have other prolific characteristics. “Chaminade was a great,” he said, “ I had ambition, and Chaminade came along side and gave me many unique experiences and some awesome mentoring. If it wasn't for Dr. Wright taking me under her wing and giving me an interest-guided education, I would not have gotten as far as I have.”

If you wish to opt out of future newsletters or would like to contact us, please email us at