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Fellowship Awarded to UH Hilo Alumnus for Bee Research

January 29, 2018, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated January 28, 6:17 PM
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Jonathan Koch. UH photo.

A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo alumnus who has returned to the university as a postdoctoral fellow was awarded a fellowship from the Society of Conservation Biology. Jonathan Koch is one of five 2018 David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellows.

Koch specializes in the study of bees and recently won the 1st runner-up award in a video competition hosted by the Entomological Society of America.

He is currently doing research on invasion genomics, which includes an examination of large portions of whole genomes to understand the genetic diversity of invasive species.

“The Smith fellowship will allow him to do cutting edge research at UH Hilo, and will help establish our campus as a hub for high impact genomics science,” said a UH Hilo assistant professor of biology who specializes in evolutionary genetics Jolene Sutton.

As a Smith Fellow, Koch will complete a project titled, “The nalo meli ʻāpaʻakuma project: Characterizing population genomic diversity of imperiled Hawaiian Hylaeus bees to inform stakeholders on in situ breeding and habitat management strategies,” under the mentorship of Sutton and in partnership with Cynthia King of the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources.

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Koch graduated with a bachelor of science in environmental science and a bachelor of arts in geography in 2008. He was awarded a UH Hilo Chancellor’s Scholarship after graduating from Waiʻanae High School on Oʻahu in 2003. Although he struggled to declare a major during his first years as an undergraduate, Koch knew he wanted to work in science. He attended graduate school at Utah State University with a full fellowship to do research on a declining bumble bee species.

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He was previously awarded a National Science Foundation competitive postdoctoral fellowship grant, which focuses on the broadening participation in the sciences and is specifically geared for those looking to work with universities in broadening diversity.

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