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Good Reef! Scholar Alum-Member Focuses on Coral

Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Zoology Ph.D. candidate Cynthia Hunter’s pressing concern in 1987 was how to get to the shore to do dissertation research on coral reefs. She used a Honolulu ARCS Scholar award to buy a used car and has been on the move ever since, logging 900 scuba dives from American Samoa to Key West. 

An associate professor of biology and zoology at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Dr. Hunter shares her fascination with reef ecosystems with undergraduates and the 20-plus graduate students she has mentored. One of her projects is to train the next generation in use of car-free geospatial technology to assess and manage protected species. She says, “I am interested in contributing to a better understanding of how coral reef ecosystems function and sustain themselves.”

Dr. Hunter, an ARCS Foundation lifetime member and former Honolulu Chapter president, also directs the university’s Marine Option Program, which allows students to add a marine science certificate to any field of study. She shared a Coastal America Partnership Award for spearheading an invasive algae cleanup program that involves hundreds of volunteers, age 4 to 84, and she supports secondary science education as a Hawai‘i State Science Fair judge. She has served on numerous ecosystem management teams and, since 2001, has served as a member of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council, which advises the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in its management of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the world’s largest marine sanctuary of 582,578 square miles.  

Article by cheryl Ernst