My past research shows the breadth and depth of my interests.
1970-1972: US IBP Desert Biome
I worked with a team of talented students to produce computer models of a variety of desert ecological systems. These students included Mick Crawley, Mark Westoby, Norm Slade, Ron Kickert, Jerry McRoberts, and Curtis Wilcott. The modeling team created ways to simulate specific attributes of these desert systems. We called the overall approach "question delimited," as specific questions were being addressed by the models. Dr. David Goodall was the director of the Desert Biome study.
There were hundreds of researchers involved in this NSF-sponsored research study. It was an exciting time as there were a number of biome studies being done at the same time. Ecology and become a "big science."
1972-1980: US IBP Island Ecosystems IRP
Dr. Dieter Mueller-Dombois created the Island Ecosystem Integrated Research Project. The goal was to test specific hypotheses of species distributions along an environmental gradient on an island. In addition, there were studies of the genetics of some of the organisms found on the transect. This was an integrated, multidisciplinary study that involved about a dozen principal investigators and their students.
1974-1978: Hawaii Environmental Simulation Laboratory
My participation in this group study involved the creation of a Geographic Information System (GIS). The primary design and programming were done by Bill Liggett. This was one of the first vector-based GIS systems. A small team of students collected all of the maps that could be found for the island of Kaua`i. These maps were carefully georeferenced and digitized. The output system created overlays that were of very high cartographic quality. There were many, many technical problems that needed to be overcome.
Dr. Doak Cox was the director of the HESL program. He brought together a good mix of faculty from across the campus and even got some politicians involved. This was another NSF-sponsored study.
Participation in this project also involved interesting studies of urban ecology, a very new discipline at the time.
1975-1980: Seagrass Ecosystem Study
Dr. Peter McRoy started the Seagrass Ecosystem Study in recognition of the paucity of information on these important vascular plant systems whcih are found world-wide in the coastal oceans. I assisted Dr. McRoy in pulling together a team of collaborators from across the US. This team created the necessary foundation research for these plants. One of my contributions was building an email system that would link all of the researchers. This was one of the first email system.
1976-1980: College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
I worked directly for the Dean William Furtick to conceptualize and obtain funding for research in tropical agricultural systems. There were several notable successes, including the congressional sponsorship of the Section 406 initiative and the USAID-funded project to assist the University of the South Pacific's Alafua campus in Samoa. My responsibilities also included coordination with a number of mainland universities, research institutions and funding agencies. I brought a number of technical innovations including the use of OCR and word processing. This was all done before there were personal computers.
It was an exciting time as I had an opportunity to travel to Washington, DC frequently and meet with government officials who served in many capacities. One of the highlights was lunch in the White House mess.
1986-1994: Lumena & MusicBox
We had just gotten personal computers, but they were all had character-based displays. That changed with Lumena's introduction of a graphics workstation. This system used 19" monitors (huge at the time) and 8-bit graphics. Drawing was done with a graphics tablet, another rare I/O device. These graphics systems output to a 35mm film recorder. The result was a system that produced colorful slides that could be used for teaching. These slides integrated well with the other slides (i.e., photos) used by many faculty. This was an expensive system. It served as a magnet and drew many talented students into the lab. John Dunn was Lumena's inventor.
John also wrote a software package that created algorithmic music. This was called MusicBox. The output came from digital synthesizers connected to a PC. John moved to Hawai`i and we collaborated on a number of graphics and music projects. The final project was a software emulation of protein synthesis, starting with a segment of DNA. The output was a musical composition. We each composed a number of pieces which together made a CD called "Inflections."
1983-1987: ISSCO and Tell-a-Graph
My PhD dissertation research used some of the early computer graphics technology. I had done work with early versions of computer cartography software. And my experience with the pixel-based Lumena software gave me access to the leading-edge of this technology. I was completely unprepared when I saw my first demo of ISSCO software. Vector graphics were being drawn with the details that I expected only from charts which were hand-drawn by experts. Yet here was software showing that computer-control could produce the same result. I jumped on this as it complemented what I was teaching in my course on the Analysis of Biological Data. The downside: the manuals describing Tell-a-Graph, the user-friendly ISSCO product, were many inches thick. The solution was to write a short book that was filled with examples. It became a popular way to learn and use this product. There was a follow-up with the similar documentation of ISSCO's Tables product.
2000-2003: PODS, the DARPA project
I had long had a desire to have a photography platform in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park so I could image the changing weather patterns, particularly along the Strip Road where there is an abrupt weather change. Michael Lurvey, then a student in my ICS 101 course, found out about this and he helped be build a prototype field setup. This soon attracted other ICS faculty attention, particularly Brian Chee and Edo Biagioni. We came across a request for proposals from DARPA that seemed to fit our desire to have a networked platform. We wrote the grant proposal and, much to our surprise, got it funded. We had a very interesting three years as we explored networking using dispersed sensors. Our efforts were joined by Mike Hawley's talented team from MIT. A lot came out of that collaboration. We worked together to develop mesh networking and deployed a set of modules in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Our "fake rocks" were a big hit and we deployed them several times in interesting places. The technology developed in this project has persisted.
2001-2003: Rongelap and Ailinginae Atolls
The extremely heavy environmental impact of the US government's nuclear testing program in the Pacific is well documented. Less well known is the social cost. We learned the details as we were asked by the local government of Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands for assistance. This was a collaborative effort between several University of Hawai`i units (School of Architecture, College of Business Administration and the Ethnobotany Program of the Botany Department). My colleague, Will McClatchey, and I (along with our students) were tasked with assessing aspects of the potential return of the islanders to their home atoll. In addition, we surveyed the nearby Ailinginae Atoll to establish it as a National Park and develop baseline data for application to World Heritage Site status.
Ethnobotany is usually defined as the study of the relationships between plants and people. It can also be called the Science of Survival. I've been working on a variety of ethnobotany projects, assisting in journal activities, serving in several roles in the major scientific society (Society for Economic Botany), attending conferences, securing grants, mentoring graduate students, curriculum development, teaching classes and field schools, and a host of other activities. My partner in many of these activities has been Will McClatchey.