In brief

  • Kampachi Farms’ Lead Researcher Gavin Key, and the 22-foot diameter Aquapod net pen used in the Velella Gamma research trial are seen. (Kampachi Farms/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Keck Observatory announces upcoming astronomy talk

Keck’s next virtual Public Astronomy Talk will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 29 and will feature Wen-Fai Fong, assistant professor of Northwestern University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, in a discussion titled “Illuminating the Origins of the Universe’s Fastest Explosions.”


When we look at the night sky, we see a static universe. However, astronomical observational surveys have revealed that our universe is, in fact, ever-changing. This “transient” sky is owed to a myriad of cosmic events. While many sources of transient emission have been traced to their origins, there are a few classes of cosmic explosions which have thus far eluded us. In this talk, Fong will discuss two classes of captivating contributors to our dynamic sky which occur in the blink of an eye: short gamma-ray bursts and fast radio bursts. She will also describe how she uses time-critical observations in the race to understand their origins. These events represent unique laboratories to study the launching of powerful jets, the production of heavy elements, the emission of gravitational waves, and most importantly, the unknown.

The talk will be streamed online and can be accessed via Keck’s website at

Series highlights women in space exploration

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), in partnership with Microsoft and the Hawaii Science and Technology Museum, will present a free public talk series highlighting leading women working in space exploration during the state Department of Education’s fall break, Oct. 5 to 10.

Called WiSE (Women in Space Exploration) Talks, the series will feature daily presentations and Q&A sessions with leading scientists, engineers and explorers who are working on the cutting-edge of human and robotic space missions. The program is intended to highlight the work of women in space exploration, share the latest developments in space exploration missions to places like Mars, and inspire youth and the public through outreach and engagement.

The scheduled speakers include:

• Heather Bottom, systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who currently lives in Hilo and is part of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission team;

• Nagin Cox, spacecraft operations engineer at NASA JPL who is the tactical mission lead for the Mars Curiosity Rover and the deputy team chief for engineering operations for the Mars 2020 rover;

• Emily Calendrelli, an MIT engineer turned Emmy-nominated science TV show host who is the co-executive producer of Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab, and author of the science book series for children, Ada Lace Adventures;

• Sara Langberg, aeromechanical engineer at AeroVironment, who helped design the Ingenuity Mars helicopter (the first aerial flight craft to be tested on another planet) which is now en route to the Red Planet together with the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover;

• Monserrate Roman, program director for NASA’s Centennial Challenges and the lead microbiologist responsible for designing the life support systems currently aboard the International Space Station;

• Amanda Hendrix, senior planetary scientist at the Planetary Science Institute who served as deputy project scientist for the Cassini-Huygens mission that explored Saturn and Titan;

• Barbara Belvisi, founder and CEO of Interstellar Lab, a company focused on developing closed-loop villages and habitation systems for life support technologies that can be used on Earth and for space settlement.

Open to the public, the WiSE Talks series will feature daily presentations between 9 and 11 a.m. HST, including a 30-minute Q&A session. Young women, ages 25 and under, will be given priority during Q&A sessions. All are welcome to join and participate in as many talks as they wish.

For the schedule of events and to register, visit

PISCES is a state-funded Hawaii aerospace center under the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. Based in Hilo, the agency is working to position the state as a leader in space exploration while developing sustainable products and technologies that benefit the islands.

Can aquaculture help repair Hawaii’s economy?

Equipped with a four-year, $924,280 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Researcher Cheng-Sheng Lee seeks to find how aquaculture can contribute to food security and what projects could potentially improve Hawaii’s international competitiveness in aquaculture.

“Our task is to enhance viable and profitable aquaculture development in Hawaii and U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia,” said Lee, executive director of the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture (CTSA), under the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences. “First, we’ll work with the industry to identify the bottlenecks for further expansion of food production from our water resources. Then, we’ll identify research teams to tackle the issue and provide solutions to the industry to improve their operations.”

NIFA’s Regional Aquaculture Centers support aquaculture research, development, demonstration and extension education to enhance viable and profitable U.S. aquaculture to benefit consumers, producers, service industries and the American economy.


The CTSA, which is jointly administered by CTAHR and the Oceanic Institute of Hawaii Pacific University, supports research and extension activities that develop and transfer new and adapted technology to industry in Hawaii and the American Insular Pacific. Each project is reviewed by a panel of experts to ensure its approach is scientifically sound and its results will directly or indirectly enhance economic opportunities for aquaculture producers in the CTSA region.

“We are looking forward to working with our industry and researchers to contribute to our food security and economy in Hawaii and the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands,” said Lee.

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