Groundbreaking delegation of UOG students set to present at largest diversity in science conference in the country

Alyssa Calalo 1

Over 30 Tritons will represent the University of Guam at the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country next week as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) presents the National Diversity in STEM conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Student researchers funded under the National Science Foundation Guam Established Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science Supporting Emerging and Aquatic Sciences (INCLUDES SEAS) programs will take the stage to present the findings of their recent research projects.

“UOG is taking big steps to make STEM careers more accessible to our local students,” explained principal investigator Austin Shelton, Ph.D. “Supported by grants, our students will present their research at the national level and get exposure to hundreds of new career and scholarship opportunities.”

A total of five students from EPSCoR and four students from INCLUDES SEAS were selected from student submissions from all over the country to present their research, which is the largest number of student researchers ever accepted from UOG.

Through the grant-funded trip, students like Antoni Badowski, an undergraduate biology major at UOG and a Guam NSF EPSCoR student researcher, will have the opportunity to meet with students, mentors and teachers from around the world.

“I am very excited to go to SACNAS and present my research,” said Badowski. “This will be my first off-island conference and I look forward to gaining experience and networking with others in my field of interest.”

Badowski will present his research regarding the genetic barcoding of amphidromous shrimp species native to Guam. Amphidromous shrimps migrate between freshwater and saltwater. Once the barcoding is complete, photo documentation along with preserved specimens, tissue biopsies, and genomic DNA extracts will be entered into the UOG Biorepository. This study will allow more extensive genetic analyses to be conducted in the future and serve as a guide for effective conservation efforts. He is under the mentorship of Daniel Lindstrom, Ph.D.

Along with grant-provided funding and local scholarships from the Research Corporation of the University of Guam, about half of the student researchers were awarded travel scholarships by the SACNAS organization.

The SACNAS conference will be held from October 27 through October 29 and will be held in-person for the first time since 2019. The conference was held virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic restrictions.

G3CC conducts underwater cleanup in Hagatña

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Members of the Guam Green Growth Conservation Corps (G3CC) got an up close and personal look at the ongoing problem of marine debris and trash during a week-long module with Master Navigator Larry Raigetal in Hagatna.  

The group assisted in repairing the thatch roofing at the boat house in Paseo, learned about traditional navigation and then proceeded to conduct an underwater cleanup alongside volunteers.  

Conservation Corps member Jacob Concepcion believed that the cleanup and beautification of our island and ocean are not only a matter of keeping things looking good, but also a cultural responsibility.  

“This is our way of giving back. In our culture, we have beliefs about everything,” said Concepcion. “I guess just paying respect to our water and the surroundings, and our culture, it really pays tribute to that.” 

The group worked together to tackle the underwater litter, hoisting bulky items such as tires and furniture from the ocean floor where it can harm the coastal ecosystem. 

According to the group, the goal is to remove the litter, donating what they can for local school programs, and to explore options to incorporate some into the circular economy.  

In total, the group removed over fourteen discarded tires, several trash bags full of garbage and dozens of aluminum cans, diverting them from the landfill.  

Guam NSF EPSCoR is the catalyst for Guam Green Growth and the Conservation Corps. Aligned with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, the Guam Green Growth Initiative, or G3, cultivates an ecosystem for transformative action to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for Guam. 

Photo Gallery: Guam NSF EPSCoR supports at the 44th Annual Islandwide Science Fair

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NSF Guam EPSCoR launches new monthly podcast

Graphic that says "Tasi Talks Podcast"
Graphic that says "Tasi Talks Podcast"

NSF Guam EPSCOR is happy to announce the launch of a new monthly podcast series, “Tåsi Talks.”  

The podcast will feature updates and interviews with the Guam EPSCoR Team and is available now on Spotify and Anchor with new distribution channels to be announced in the future. 

In the first episode, we dive in with Dr. Bastian Bentlage who tells us about his most recent published paper and the great news it could be for coral reef preservation.

We are also joined by Dr. Cheryl Sangueza who brings EPSCoR students Louise Pascua and Ariana Orallo along to discuss their monumental outing at this year’s Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference! 

Listen and subscribe for new episodes!

Meet the Team: Dirige does her part to keep the Guam NSF EPSCoR program moving forward

Janet pic
Janet pic

After spending her entire career working with and helping program leads and researchers as the Director for Contracts and Grants at the University of Guam (UOG) Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Janet Dirige took a leap into the ocean known as EPSCoR and has been swimming since.  

Following her retirement from UOG in the summer of 2020, Dirige made her return to the workforce and is now the Associate Director/Project Administrator of Guam NSF-EPSCoR. 

According to Dirige, her main goal is to make sure that the program and all its components stay on track. 

“I work with project management,” explained Dirige. “I ensure that Guam EPSCoR stays within the rules and regulations of the National Science Foundation to ensure we are in compliance with expenditures and project scope of work.” 

When the mother of two is not spending time with her children or two grandchildren, you can find her listening to music, catching a movie or spending time outside gardening.  

Her strong connection to the environment and sense of family leaves her hopeful for the future and thankful for the work the EPSCoR research team is conducting.  

“I hope with all the research our research team is doing they find the solution to the coral bleaching problem,” said Dirige. “(They can) make it better for Guam and the region so we can have a better ecosystem and better environment for everyone.” 

Dirige says that she is excited to work with team members to accomplish tasks and make things happen as efficiently as possible.  

“I like to get things done,” said Dirige. “Tomorrow there is going to be another project or event that we need to take care of, so as long as it is within our budget and in compliance, let’s get it done.”  

Dirige can be found in the main EPSCoR house in Dean Circle alongside the administration team and can be reached via email at <jtdirige@uog.edu>. 

G3 Conservation Corps helps plant more than 2,000 trees to prevent erosion

G3 Group tree planting
G3 Group tree planting

The growing reforestation movement was in full display as more than 2,000 trees were planted in the hills of Malesso’ on July 24 by the Guam Green Growth Conservation Corps, a joint program of the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability, the Office of the Governor, and Guam NSF EPSCoR’s Education and Workforce Development objective.

The Corps worked alongside the Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, and more than 200 interns and volunteers.

The effort was part of the As Gadao Manell Watershed Restoration Project and one of several Island Beautification Task Force activities organized by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Guam to commemorate Guam’s 77th Liberation Day. 

“[The Forestry Division] is trying to plant trees to prevent erosion, to put back and recover native and endemic species, and try and solve some environmental issues out there,” Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio said. “Tree planting this morning is one of the very critical pieces in the plan.”

The G3 Conservation Corps members spent the week prior working alongside the DOA team preparing the land for the planting event.

“We spent about four days bush-cutting in a very specific manner, taught by the forestry team, to prepare the land for this event, and it made it so easy for the volunteers to come in and plant so many trees,” said G3 Conservation Corps member Joey Certeza.  “Preparing the land, and now seeing it with so many people helping out, is very satisfying and gratifying.” 

The corps members created contour lines in the southern ridge to create space for trees to be planted and pruned previously planted acacia trees (Acacia auriculiformis) to prepare for the introduction of understory natives to develop a native forest.

“We are working to convert the highly fire-prone landscape, which is dominated by invasive grass species, to forested lands,” said Christine Fejeran, the Forestry and Soil Resources Division chief at the Guam Department of Agriculture. “The acacias help amend soils and shade out the grasses giving native trees a chance, once planted.”

The G3 Conservation Corps is a newly launched workforce development program preparing the local community for the emerging green economy. It is part of the Guam Green Growth initiative, the island’s most comprehensive public-private partnership ever created to achieve a sustainable future for the island. 

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