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Mellon-Hawai’i Fellowship Selections Made

Posted November 10, 2015, 12:37 PM HST
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2015-2016 Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellows Kahikina de Silva (left), Natalie Kurashima (center), and Mehana Vaughan (right). Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center.

The 2015-2016 Mellon-Hawai’i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows have been selected. Three Native Hawaiian scholars will pursue original research and advance their academic careers through the program.

Now in its eighth year, the Mellon-Hawai’i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program recognizes and provides support to the work of Native Hawaiian academics early in their careers; along with those who are committed to the advancement of knowledge about the Hawaiian natural and cultural environment, Hawaiian history, politics, and society.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Kohala Center, along with support of Kamehameha Schools, founded the program in 2008. The 2015-2016 program received additional support by the Deviants from the Norm Fund and Dr. Paul and Elizabeth Nakayama.

Participants in the fellowship program are given a stipend and mentoring to assist in the completion of their dissertations before they accept academic posts. The program also provides postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to publish original research early in their academic careers.

The 2015-2016 cohort is pursing research that places the focus on a unique combination of Hawaiian science, community, and culture.

Doctoral Fellow Kahikina de Silva, Ph. D is one of the 2015-2016 Mellon-Hawai’i Fellows. De Silva is a candidate in the political science program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

De Silva’s dissertation examines the relationship between mele of Hawai’i and aloha ‘aina, drawing attention to their decolonizing and resurgent capacities. Her mentor through the fellowship is Noenoe K. Silva, Ph. D, who is a professor within the Department of Political Science at UH.

Natalie Kurashima, P.h. D, is a doctoral fellow candidate in the botany program at UH. Kurashima’s research focuses on the restoration of traditional Hawaiian food systems and landscapes as a toll for biodiversity conservation, cultural perpetuation, and resilience against climate change.

Kurashima’s fellowship mentor is Tamara Ticktin, Ph. D, a professor of Botany at UH.

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Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Mehana Vaughan studied Interdisciplinary Environmental Studied at Stanford University. Her book examines the collaboration between local community and government to restore sustaining relationships with ‘aina.

Vaughan’s mentor is Louise Fortmann, Ph. D, who is a professor of the Graduate School and Professor Emerita in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California Berkeley.

“For eight years now the scholars accepted to the Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellowship Program have addressed contemporary issues from a Hawaiian perspective and advanced Hawaiian culture and practices in academia, government, and the private sector,” said Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, The Kohala Center’s president and CEO. “While the three scholars in this year’s cohort are focused on very different topics, what’s interesting about their work is that is it all united by the values of aloha ‘āina, or love of the land.”

In 2008-2009, Dr, Beamer was a postdoctoral fellow in the program as he was an adjunct assistant professor at UH.

The Kohala Center was assisted in the selection of the 2015-2016 cohort by a distinguished panel of senior scholar and kupuna, including:

  • Panel Chair Robert Lindsey, Jr., member of the Board of Directors at The Kohala Center and Trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
  • Panel Executive Advisor Dr. Shawn Kana‘iaupuni, director of the Public Education Support Division at Kamehameha Schools.
  • Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, former executive director of Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and Professor Emeritus at Cornell University.
  • Dr. Pualani Kanahele, distinguished professor at Hawai‘i Community College and member of the Board of Directors at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation.
  • Dr. James Kauahikaua, scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The Mellon-Hawai’i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows program is administered by The Kohala Center through its headquarters in Waimea. Since the program’s beginnings, 32 fellowships totaling $1.3 million have been awarded.

Applications for the 2016-2017 Mellon-Hawai’i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program are being accepted. Interested applicants can find application materials and additional information online at the Mellon Hawai’i website or by calling The Kohala Center at 887-6411. The 2016-2017 deadline is Feb. 29, 2016.

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