Dr. Judy Lemus

Principal Investigator

Dr. Lemus has taught and led science education and outreach programs in different venues for over 20 years.  She is currently a tenured faculty specialist at HIMB, building collaborative research and outreach programs and developing academic and research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. She is the lead PI and director of the NSF “COSEE Island Earth” center in Hawaii and OEDG-funded “Laulima A ‘Ike Pono” community research internship program. She has developed multimedia technology products that connect scientific outreach, such as the Loko I‘a iPhone app and the seaHarmony collaborative network. As the former Director of Education for the Wrigley Institute, she co-directed the NSF COSEE-West program at USC.

She is also the co-designer/author of marine science curricula, teacher workshops, parent-child cooperative learning programs, and marine science summer programs for middle and high school students, as well as a contributing author and science reviewer of the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts. Dr. Lemus also serves the academic, and broader communities in several capacities: Kaneohe Bay Regional Council (appointed by Governor); UH Manoa General Education Foundations Board (chair); Associate Editor, Journal Of Geoscience Education; Sanctuary Advisory Council (Education Chair), Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary; National Marine Educators Association and Oceania Regional Chapter; External Advisory Board, TCBES/Crest Program, UH-Hilo; Board Of Directors, Paepae o He‘eia Fishpond stewardship organization.

Ariana Huffmyer

Graduate Student, Marine Biology

Since a very early age, I have always had the dream of becoming a marine biologist and studying the coral reef ecosystem. Even though I grew up in a small farm town in Eastern Oregon, I spent as much time as possible near the ocean, learning as much as I could about marine organisms and their habitats. In order to formally study marine biology, I completed my undergraduate education at Oregon State University. During my undergraduate studies, I worked in molecular laboratories to study coral physiology, studied abroad in the Caribbean, and researched the intertidal ecology of the Oregon tidepools. While exploring these research areas, I also took time to participate in public education and student learning in marine conservation, as I believe it is vitally important to educate others on discoveries through scientific research. My undergraduate research experiences in various environments prepared me to begin a graduate education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

I am interested in exploring coral reproduction ecology in the Hawaiian reef system, primarily focusing on the reproductive success of corals in regions across spatial and time scales. I will be investigating the effects of anthropogenic impacts on the success of coral reproduction in different ecosystem regions. In addition, I will focus on public outreach and education for purposes of marine environment conservation. I will investigate the effectiveness of different teaching and outreach methods in actively involving adult, college, and high school students in marine conservation. A large part of the success of these outreach programs is the magnification of learning in the community and the transition of the learner to the teacher in the spread of information. I will be working to integrate these research and education together to better understand the bridge between science and society in an effort to increase effectiveness of collaboration in communities to conserve the marine environment.

Emily Sesno

Graduate Student, Marine Biology

From coast to coast, I have traveled to study and understand the fascinating creatures in the sea. I completed my undergraduate degree in marine science from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Soon after, I moved to the British Virgin Islands, where I worked as a sailing and SCUBA instructor and marine science educator. Having had opportunities to explore underwater ecosystems in New Zealand, Honduras, Indonesia, and beyond, has deepened my desire to learn more to help protect our ocean planet. In pursuit of my masters degree, I am focusing my research on the impacts of climate change, both temperature and acidification, on marine invertebrates – specifically the common collector urchin found here in Hawaii. In conjunction, I am continuing my passion for education by collaborating with SeaGrant to revamp an existing elementary school marine science curriculum. By ensuring that Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Ocean Literacy Principles (OLP) are met and that the information is accessible, we are working to provide all students an opportunity to learn, engage, and understand the complexities of our oceans

Derek Kraft

Graduate Student, Marine Biology

My interest in ocean life began in the tide pools of my youth. Instead of watching cartoons, I was listening to David Attenborough talk about the mysteries of the deep. To find out for myself what was out there, I earned a scuba diving certification which eventually lead to volunteering as a diver for the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where I was able to dive with several shark species. In 2013 I moved to Hawai‘i to pursue my dreams of shark research.


My work involves using and developing molecular tools to assist managers in making decisions about the pelagic sharks of our oceans. Specifically I’m cataloging the global genetic inventory of the silky shark to establish proper management units know as stocks. This will identify how much silky sharks are moving between and within ocean basins, a critical element for proper management of this heavily harvested marine resource. Additionally I’m developing forensic tools to be implemented on samples collected from the Hong Kong fin markets. This tool will allow us to identify region of origin for silky shark fins in the market. The results could identify harvest hotspots which is the first step toward controlling this devastating fishery, and will also give us insight on where this illegal and unreported shark finning is occurring.


My molecular work is conducted at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). It is such a unique place to work because it is located on a small island within a beautiful bay. It is one of the only facilities in the world where you can walk out the lab door, to the edge of the reef, and perform field work or collect samples (if you study coral reefs, that is). These samples can be prepared, and the DNA sequenced, all within 100 feet of the reef’s edge. 

Kirsten Carlson


My education is in science—a Bachelor of Science in Biology, graduate studies in Marine Ecology and a Certificate in Scientific Illustration. I worked at Monterey Bay Aquarium for ten years inspiring conversation of the oceans an illustrator and graphic designer. I’ve been freelancing full time as a visual science communicator since 1995 and began writing and illustrating children’s books in 2005, right before becoming a military spouse.

Moving to Hawaii in 2013 reconnected me with Judy and her work. We first met at a National Marine Educators Association Conference in California and connected over science, art and education. We started brainstorming about me becoming an artist-in-residence after we met again in 2016. I’m excited to be a part of the MakerLab, collaborating on sci-art projects.