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In the Hawaiian worldview, corals are ancestral beings with spiritual energies, which are integrated within the natural environment and wider consciousness. The Kumulipo, a Hawaiian genealogical and evolutional chant, denotes the history of all life forms came and evolved from corals. Thus, the genealogy of the Hawaiian Islands and people begins with the coral polyp.

Today, the coral reefs of Hawaiʻi are valued at ~$33.6 billion via multiple goods and services. Hawaiian coral reefs provide jobs and income to a variety of local industries ranging from fishing (commercial and subsistence) to recreation and tourism. Local economies receive billions of dollars from visitors to reefs through diving tours, recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses located near coral reef ecosystems.

Efforts to monitor and protect corals have increased over the last decade as coral reefs have been declining around the globe. Coral diseases are a major threat to reef ecosystems, however most diseases remain poorly understood. Environmental stressors in coastal areas are predicted to intensify, thus it is critical to comprehensively characterize states of reduced health and disease in order to determine how diseases will affect the integrity and function of these ecosystems.

The research methods listed below are utilized in order to study coral disease. These techniques allows researchers to determine how stressors can impact the health of corals.


  • John Burns Ph.D.

    UH Post-doctoral Researcher

    John Burns is a post-doctoral research at the University of Hawaii. He conducts research on coral health and the impacts of disease on the structure and function of reefs throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago. He has coordinated the development of the Coral Health Atlas. 

  • Nicolas Turner B.A.

    GIS/RS Analyst

    Nicolas Turner is a Cyber GIS / Remote Sensing Analyst for the EPSCOR Hawai’i Cyber Team. He has a B.A. in Geography and a certificate in Planning from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. His area of experience and interest is in unmanned aerial vehicles,  GIS, remote sensing and geospatial vsualization.

  • Chris Nishioka M.B.A.

    GIS Analyst/IT Technician

    Chris Nishioka is a CompTIA A+ certified GIS Analyst / IT Technician for the EPSCOR Hawai'i Cyber Team. He has a M.B.A. from Chaminade University, B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geography, and a certificate in planning from the University of Hawai'i at Hilo.  He is also a graduate of the CISCO networking academy.

  • Micheal Best

    Software Engineer

    Michael Best is a software developer for the EPSCoR Hawaiʻi Cyberinfrastructure team at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. Michael designed and built the Coral Health Atlas interactive data map.

  • Kohei Miyagi B.S.

    Software Engineer

    Kohei Miyagi is a cyberinfrastructure technician for the Hawaiʻi Geospatial Data Repository of the EPSCoR Hawaiʻi. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. He aided to develop web, database, and GISservers that host the Coral Health Atlas of Hawaiʻi.

  • Monika Frazier

    UHH M.S. Candidate

    Monika Frazier is a MSc candidate in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science program whose research focuses on using molecular tools to learn more about coral. Her current research entails assessing the expression level of genes that are involved in coral immune function.

  • Kanoelani Steward B.A.

    Research Assistant

    Kanoelani, originally from Lahaina, Maui, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo majoring in Marine Science and Hawaiian Studies. Kanoe collected coral health data, and historical site information, at sites in Hawai'i and in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

  • Makani Gregg M.S.

    Research Assistant

    Makani Gregg recieved a Master’s degree in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science Program. Her thesis focuses on the effects of water quality and community structure on coral health around Hawaiʻi Island.

  • Donna Delparte Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor

    Dr. Donna Delparte is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the Idaho State University. Her area of research is GIS, remote sensing, terrain analysis and geo-visualization. Donna aided in the development of the web-based mapping application for the Coral Health Atlas.

  • Misaki Takabayashi Ph.D.

    UHH Professor

    Dr. Misaki Takabayashi is an associate professor in Marine Science Department at UH Hilo. Her research involves a dynamic team of graduate and undergraduate students as well as collaborators from other universities and government agencies.

  • Ruth Gates Ph.D.

    HIMB Researcher

    Dr. Ruth Gates is a Researcher at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Her research interests lie in the biological mechanisms and traits that dictate the environmental threshold of marine organisms.

  • John Coney & Jeff Kuwabara

    UHH Astronomy & UHM MOP

    John is a technician at the UHH Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Jeff is the Marine Option Program Coordinator at UHM. When these guys aren't busy running UH programs, they are avid divers and incredible underwater photographers. They have graciously donated many images to the Coral Health Atlas.