Math students present research on coral reef dynamics

2022 SMRP Photo 1

Six students presented their research about the effects of coral bleaching, coral diseases, rising temperatures, and controlling crown-of-thorns (COTS) starfish populations using mathematical modeling this summer as part of the 2022 Summer Joint Math Research Program showcase held on July 15. The students – five undergraduate students and one high school student – were part of the 2022 Summer Math Research Experience held from May 23 to July 16 at the University of Guam.  

The program was part of the Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals & Oceans (GECCO) project, funded by the university’s Guam NSF EPSCoR grant. 

“You’ve inspired research by what I have seen from the titles of your projects,” said Austin Shelton, the director of the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant, during the showcase’s opening remarks. “These are the kinds of things the community needs to understand our coastal and terrestrial resources.”  

The Summer Math Research Experience was held in conjunction with two other research programs: the Young Research Experience in Mathematics and the National Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.  

Using data collected from researchers at the UOG Marine Laboratory, the models were developed to use as a tool to forecast changes in the island’s coral reefs.  

“Creating these mathematical models is important so that we can see and predict the changes from these environmental situations,” said UOG Assistant Professor Mathematics Jaeyong Choi, one of the program’s mentors. ”Using the mathematical models, we can use them to simulate situations based on the data collected from the researchers at the marine laboratory.”  

During the program, the students were split into two teams to focus on two projects.  

The first group looked at whether rising sea surface temperatures were a bigger threat to Acropora pulchra and Porites populations than crown-of-thorns starfish, which prey on stony coral. Outbreaks of these starfish can cause severe damage to coral reefs over just a few weeks.  

 “Applying math to science feels like you’re exploring,” said Siwen “Lulu” Shao, a high school student at St. John’s Catholic School. “You never encounter the same problem. When we built this complex mathematical model, all you have to do is change numbers and parameters and this model would be able to apply to any COTS and any coral relationship in the world.” 

The second group focused on how two different coral species – Acropora pulchra and Porites massive – react in situations of bleaching and disease along with how the presence of seaweed inhibits their ability to recover. 

“Being in this program has been pretty amazing and eye-opening,” said Ernie Samelo, an undergraduate mathematics major at the University of Guam. “I’ve learned a lot of stuff about math and applying it in real life and coral. Corals are something I never thought would have so many layers to it. I’ve loved every moment of this program.” 

G3CC conducts underwater cleanup in Hagatña


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


G3 Makerspace workshops inspire community to live sustainably

G3 Workshops Photo 2

From making pouches out of repurposed plastic to bamboo bracelets and earrings, the Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub has been encouraging the island’s community to live a more sustainable lifestyle by taking advantage of the resources around them. 

The G3 Makerspace and Innovation Hub started holding workshops at their location in Hagåtña’s CHamoru Village in March and has offered courses that involve fusing plastic bags together to make pouches, dyeing fabric with natural pigments found on the island, and processing locally harvested bamboo into vases, bangles, and earrings. 

The workshops engage the community in the circular economy, which eliminates waste by promoting the continual use of products. In addition, the workshops also encourage its participants to think of ways to address invasive species such as bamboo and turn them into resources they can use.  

Bamboo is an invasive species on Guam because it clogs riverways and causes erosion when bunches of it are ripped from the ground during a storm.  

“Right now, we’ve been teaching them how to make jewelry pieces, but we want to expand and teach our community how to utilize bamboo as a source of lumber,” said Joey Certeza, the G3 Circular Economy Makerspace Assistant. “We want to learn how to work with our land and how to utilize the resources it offers us.”  

In May, the makerspace will offer workshops that will use malt bags donated from local breweries to make bucket hats and tote bags.  

Additional upcoming workshops include printmaking courses in which participants can use marine debris to print on a fabric that can be made into pouches and leather workshops.  

“The reception from our participants has been really good,” said Abby Crain, the Guam Green Growth Education Coordinator. “We’ve had couples who do it for a date night, families that come and bring their teenagers with them, and there is this one lady who has done almost every workshop and she’s been a repeat client.”  

Certeza says that he enjoys facilitating the workshops because it gives him an opportunity to make connections within the community.  

“The kind of experience I’ve been striving to provide while working with Guam Green growth is for the community to realize that engaging in a sustainable lifestyle is easier than you think,” said Certeza. “I want our community to realize the capacity of what they can do with their hands and their minds with the resources the island provides for us.”  

Workshops at the G3 Circular Economy and Innovation Hub are $20 and above and are held on Thursdays and Saturdays.  

For more information about upcoming workshops, please visit the facility’s events page. 

The Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub is funded in part by Guam NSF EPSCoR. 

Mónica Feliú-Mójer speaks with Guam Science and Technology Steering Committee  


During a meeting on April 4th, 2022, members of the Guam Science and Technology Steering Committee met with Mónica Feliú-Mójer. Feliú-Mójer is the director of communication for Ciencia Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization that advocates for science in Puerto Rico and supports Puerto Rican researchers to empower communities to improve their lives and society. 

Feliú-Mójer also works with Science Communication Lab, a nonprofit that uses multimedia storytelling to communicate science to the public, as its director of diversity and communication training.  

“I like to push back on this idea that our communities are not scientifically literate. They know science. There’s a lot of community and ancestral scientific knowledge,” said Feliú-Mójer. “I think it is important that we have a conversation about scientific literacy and how people can use it to benefit their life.”  

The steering committee consulted with Feliú-Mójer learn about how to put science in service of communities.  

As part of her work with Ciencia Puerto Rico, Feliú-Mójer facilitates Aquí Nos Cuidamos (“Here We Take Care of Each Other”), a community-centered multimedia toolkit that provides culturally relevant resources to marginalized communities in Puerto Rico on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has produced resources such as guidelines, checklists, and infographics; audio broadcasts to remote areas; and videos with sign language.  

“I think one of the things that’s really important to me when it comes to engaging different communities with science is that fundamentally, science is about solving problems,” said Feliú-Mójer. “Everybody has problems. Science equips us with tools to solve problems regarding such determining whether something is true on social media or making a decision about our finances or healthcare.”  

Feliú-Mójer said that communicating science in a culturally relevant way makes science more accessible for audiences.  

“Culturally relevant science allows people to see themselves in science. It makes science more welcoming. A lot of people see science as a subject they need to take in school and not much more and part of what I want to do is change that. I want people to see science as a tool that can serve them no matter who they are,” said Feliú-Mójer. 

Alum participates in artist residency program  

Artist Residency Photo 4

Using an eye for detail, Constance Sartor, a University of Guam Master of Science in Biology and a research assistant with the university’s Guam NSF EPSCoR program, is encouraging others to appreciate the world around them through art inspired by the environment.  



In November 2021, Sartor participated in one of the U.S. National Parks System’s Artist-in-Residence programs.  


The National Park System holds more than 50 residency programs across the nation and encourages visual, musical, and literary artists to create pieces in varied natural and cultural settings.  
Sartor participated in a similar program in June 2021 onboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel as part of the organization’s Artist-at-Sea program. 
During the artist-in-residence program, Sartor spent a month in a cabin acquainting herself with the mountains and forests of the Great Smoky National Park in Tennessee. There, she saw the turkeys, black bears, and salamanders that called the park their home. Using an assortment of magazines, she created upcycled collages of animals and important sites found at the park. 


“I made four different collages – one was a rare morph of a wild turkey that I saw in the park. Another was an elk, which they had re-introduced into the park as a part of a rehabilitation project,” Sartor said. “I also did a historic cabin and also a waterfall that was really important to the park.”  


During her time in the program, she also held workshops at the park’s visitor’s center and taught visitors how to make different collages of the animals they saw.  


Sartor said that creating art encourages her to feel more connected to the organisms she encounters.  


“I definitely do feel more of a connection to my subjects when I make a piece because I have to think about the organism a little more than I would,” Sartor said. “I see little details in the animals or plants I wouldn’t have noticed. I also try to learn more about them and how they play a role in the environment and everything, so it’s a good way to research different aspects of the environment.”  


She said she enjoyed her time at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and found it interesting to work with the park’s staff to learn more about its environment.  “I really enjoyed the experience because I’m kind of torn between art and science and figuring out a way to blend the two,” Sartor said. “I feel like I’m learning that art is a really good way to communicate science and to get people really interested in science. That’s definitely something I learned through this and something I will continue to pursue in the future.”  

Sartor has been accepted to another National Parks System Artist-in-Residence program and will attend it this summer.  

New G3 Conservation Corps members in motion 


A second cycle of sustainability leaders kicked off their first week under one of the Guam Green Growth (G3) Initiative’s most highly mobilized programs on March 14 at the University of Guam.  

Out of over 100 applicants, 12 members were selected to participate in the G3 Conservation Corps, entering a five-month workforce development program preparing our community for the emerging green economy. This week started with an orientation offering key program guidelines, remarks from G3 leadership, team building exercises, tips from a panel of inaugural cohort members, and the recitation of the new Conservation Corps pledge.  

The G3 Conservation Corps completed their first island beautification project – gardening at UOG’s colorful cliffside planter boxes highlighting the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The following new members will partake in various conservation activities to support the resilience of our island community and natural resources: Jenelle Aguilar, Rejean Benavente, Johnny Borja, Jacob Concepcion, Remilou Hannigan, Dulce Imbo, Wade Kitalong, Andrea Murer, Ryan Perez, Christopher Quichocho, Hila’an San Nicolas, and Tre Starr.  

“The Corps will bring together hundreds of different members from our community… to do amazing things to move our island forward toward a sustainable future,” Austin Shelton, UOG Center for Island Sustainability (CIS) director and G3 Steering Committee co-chairperson, said to the members. “At the same time, the Corps will receive valuable workforce training to join the green workforce when they complete the program.”  

“Growing up on this island, we really get a lot of love for our culture and our environment. Seeing some of it deteriorate in our young lives, I feel like it’s really good to be able to set the foundation for the future, to teach better ways, so our island stays beautiful, and we can share it with everyone,” Borja said.  

Imbo, who is also a UOG graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in counseling, plans to incorporate the knowledge she’ll gain from the program into her guidance for future clients.  

“We see that the SDGs are intersectional, I want to be there to pay it forward in terms of mental health and how that relates to our environment, as well as how that relates to our sustainable development and our sustainable community here in Guam,” she said.  

“One of the things the lieutenant governor and I always talked about is how we can sustain our island, how we can provide the resources for our island, so that there’s food sustainability, so that our environment is protected, so that our culture is protected, so that our practices continue. I want you to learn as much as you can and send that knowledge out and apply that knowledge out to the community. This pandemic has shown us how necessary it is for us to sustain ourselves within our resources, and we have a lot of resources. Our island is very fragile. I love our island. I’m sure you all do. We live here. No one else is going to do it, but ourselves, and I really appreciate your commitment and your efforts,” Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero, G3 Steering Committee chairperson, said. 

“Thank you for choosing to be change agents. The whole spirit of Guam Green Growth, especially the Conservation Corps, is to try and enable people to do what they can individually, collectively as a cohort, then collaboratively with the CIS, with the government of Guam, and with the people of Guam,” Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio, G3 Steering Committee co-chairperson, said. “When I was going to college, people would tell us we don’t have any resources, that we can’t survive on our own, and the governor was always one of those that (said) ‘No, that’s not true.’ We have been here for thousands of years. We just have to calibrate what’s out here and make sure we share the knowledge.” 

In their first few weeks, the members are scheduled to assist with the expansion of the community garden in Hagåtña, familiarize with Guam’s waste management and zero waste operations, and partake in regular village revitalization projects. 

Guam NSF EPSCoR is the catalyst for Guam Green Growth and the Conservation Corps.

About G3 
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. The University of Guam facilitates the island-wide initiative in cooperation with the Office of the Governor of Guam and the 100 members of the G3 Working Groups, representing all sectors of society. 

Students will gain hands-on experience and mentorship through STEM internship  

EPSCoR SRE Photo 1
EPSCoR SRE Photo 1
Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomes 10 undergraduate students to its 2022 Student Research Experience! These students will gain valuable research experience and mentorship this year by conducting fieldwork, learning laboratory skills, and preparing a research paper and a presentation of their findings.

Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomes 10 undergraduate students from the University of Guam to its 2022 Student Research Experience. Through the internship program, the students will gain valuable research experience and mentorship this year by conducting fieldwork, learning laboratory skills, and preparing a research paper and a presentation of their findings to exhibit at various STEM conferences.  

The program is designed to increase the number and diversity of students, particularly from Pacific Islands, who choose STEM careers by giving them the skills and confidence needed for academic and career development.  

The students were briefed about the internship during a virtual orientation on Friday, Feb. 4.  

“I am very happy to welcome our new SRE students,” said Terry Donaldson, the principal investigator of Guam NSF EPSCoR. “This program is really a game-changer. This will either help you become a research scientist later in your career or just teach you how to better adapt to the situations that arise in whatever you do.” 

As part of the internship, the students will participate in near-peer mentorship programs that will allow them to interact with high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who are a part of Guam NSF EPSCoR and with the NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance program. 

“This experience for me was so amazing. Not only did it change me as a student, but it changed me as a person,” said Ariana Orallo, a 2021 SRE intern and an undergraduate biomedical pre-pharmacy student at UOG. “Prior to this, I had no knowledge about anything that I was going into. I was working with corals, so it was really intimidating at first. But as you keep going, it keeps getting easier and the knowledge sticks with you.” 

For more information about the Guam NSF EPSCoR Student Research Experience, visit 

Near Peer mentorship guides student researchers’ self-actualization, contributions to STEM growth 


The latest cohort of student researchers expanding the University of Guam’s STEM footprint convened for their first Near Peer mentorship seminar, Feb. 18, at the UOG School of Education.   

Near Peer is a program tailored to champion the research efforts of students under the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) Supporting Emerging Aquatic Scientists (SEAS) Island Alliance Guam Hub and Guam Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grants.   

From data collection and personal development to preparing for the annual Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science National Diversity in STEM Conference, students can consult a diverse team of fellow researchers and college students for guidance in different aspects of their research through knowledge exchange and shared experiences. 

A primary focus of the seminars is to cultivate an awareness of how the students’ research experiences impact the evolution of their self-identity, as well as the shaping of their education and career path in STEM, according to Cheryl Sangueza, NSF INCLUDES SEAS Island Alliance co-principal investigator and steering committee member, who also serves as the student experience and Near Peer seminar lead.  

“This unique depth of reflection brings a keen sense of self. This sense of self helps learners illuminate the impacts of their experience beyond ‘science research’. Another way our Near Peer seminars benefit is that they model a culturally relevant way of mentoring. Asking students about their evolution, grounded in their experiences, lets them know their story is important!” Sangueza stated. 

Program participants can look forward to discussing the diversity of career paths within their individual interests, including drone use and science communications, in upcoming seminars. As the conference season approaches, they will learn to shift from delivering traditional science fair presentations to credible storytelling in the science arena while leading with the value of science in Guam and its cultural significance. 

Sangueza hopes the students will gain the understanding that the island and region have immense value and global contributions in science and culture through their voices; develop a love of learning about self; have a stronger connection to Guam’s environment; and strengthen their passion, resilience, humble confidence, and the desire to join the cadre of local experts in STEM. 

“It was nice seeing how everyone has their different projects and focus they’re working on. It gives us an opportunity to reach out to other people, and, maybe, inspire other people or future cohorts to see what we’re doing and pursue these research programs,” said Raianne Quichocho, NSF INCLUDES SEAS Island Alliance Guam Hub undergraduate fellow. 

 “Overall, this is going to help me as a student and, also, pursue a career in marine science. I’m really excited for that,” Quichocho concluded. 

UOG has received NSF funding to broaden the participation of underrepresented students in STEM fields through the INCLUDES and EPSCoR programs.  

Near Peer seminars will be held on a monthly basis. 

Guam Green Growth Makerspace and Innovation Hub now open at CHamoru Village  

Makerspace Photo 3

Entrepreneurs and creators can now transform waste material into marketable products through the Guam Green Growth Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub.  

Guam Green Growth and its partners celebrated the grand opening of its G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in three houses at the CHamoru Village in Hagatña.  

Designed to support Guam’s emerging green economy, the spaces will allow entrepreneurs to upcycle discarded materials into marketable products using a variety of tools and resources. These spaces also support the island’s effort to rely less on imported goods and create less waste. 

“What we are doing is moving forward with our vision of helping people become successful in business. Small businesses are the backbone of our community and government,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “This concept is a win-win for our business, academia, our island’s environment, and all of Guam.” 

Equipped with 3D printers, a laser cutter, computer numerical control router, vinyl cutter, and power tools, the industrial makerspace can process materials such as wood, metal, and plastic.  

“This is an effort to diversify the economy and to do things to benefit multiple parts of our community,” said University of Guam President Thomas Krise. “We have this opportunity to think of a new kind of economy and a new way of dealing with visitors and to be attractive to visitors. I think this is a really great opportunity.”  

The second makerspace house has equipment from Precious Plastic, a plastic recycling project that uses machines to grind, melt, and mold recycled plastic into new products such as furniture, jewelry, and more.  

“What this G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub will be is a beacon to tell everybody on our island that we do not have scarcity – in fact, we have lots of resources. The problem is that we’ve been calling it waste this whole time,” said Austin Shelton, director of the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant. “The circular economy is about changing this linear economy where all of our products come in from our ports and waste products end up at the landfill. We can bend that line into a loop, regenerate natural systems, and design out waste and pollution to keep our materials in use. We can then create new green economic activity and this is where we can do it together.”   

Once entrepreneurs create products in the makerspace, they can sell them on consignment at the G3 Green Store to test the market.  

The innovation hub supports part of the G3 initiative’s mission to establish sustainable and profitable cottage industries and support regional economic development. Business advisement seminars, creative workshops, and training sessions for the makerspace’s equipment will be held at the facility.  

Creators can access the space and tools available for $50 a month or $500 per year, with a 20% discount applicable for yearly memberships.  

The facility’s hours will be Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

The G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub was made possible by funding from Guam NSF EPSCoR, the Guam Economic Development Authority, Office of the Governor of Guam, 36th Guam Legislature, and partnerships with the UOG Center for Island Sustainability, UOG Sea Grant, the School of Business and Public Administration, and Guam Unique Merchandise and Arts. 

For more information about the G3 Circular Economy Makerspace and Innovation Hub, please contact G3 Circular Economy Coordinator Myracle Mugol at 

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