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. 

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!

Guam Green Growth recognizes first cohort of Conservation Corps graduates

CorpsGrad
CorpsGrad

An innovative program designed to establish the foundation for workforce development in an emerging green economy achieved a milestone this month by holding its first graduation.  

The University of Guam’s Guam Green Growth Initiative recognized its first batch of conservation corps graduates on Friday, Nov. 19, at the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex (Adelup) in Hagåtña. 

The following Conservation Corps members graduated from the program: Nikomang Bradley, Joseph Certeza, Alana Chargualaf, Abby Crain, EnyDennis Dali, Claudia Rosalia Guerrero, Jacqueline Jones, Drake Kemp, Lusech Ngirakesau, Daniel Stone, Kaya Taitano, and Kevin Wong.  

G3 launched the conservation corps program in partnership with UOG Center for Island Sustainability, NSF Guam EPSCoR and UOG Global Learning and Engagement in June. For the past five months, the 12 members trained full time on various sustainability topics, such as agriculture and aquaculture, island beautification, invasive species removal, reforestation, circular economy and recycling, to renewable energy. 

“Through the G3 Conservation Corps program, the 12 corps member are now trained in these focus areas, and these can be applied in agencies, organizations, and businesses to help transition our island into a green economy,” UOG President Thomas Krise said on the conservation corps’ contribution to G3’s overarching goal. 

Krise said the members will receive continuing education units for completing the workforce development program. “This is supported by our partnership with the Global Learning Education and the Center for Island Sustainability. This is such a great way to combine education with all your other successes,” Krise said, addressing the members of the conservation corps.  

At the graduation, Austin Shelton, UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant director, highlighted the contributions of the first batch of Conservation Corps members. “When Guam Green Growth started, I shared that sustainability is about human society, the natural environment, and the economy. And you [graduates] have been an important part of getting ready to prepare our community and our workforce for the emerging green economy.”  

From Jun. 23 to Nov. 9, 2021, the conservation corps accomplished the following: 

  • Engaged community participants and leveraged 4,149 volunteer hours  
  • Picked up 578 extra-large bags of trash, removed 211 white goods and bulky waste; 
  • Collected and recycled 70,516 aluminum cans; 
  • Installed 641solar panels and changed 693 fluorescent bulbs to LED; 
  • Prepped 10 acres of land for reforestation projects; 
  • Planted 2,890 trees and 2,024 food crops; 
  • Built 690 ft. of erosion control devices; 
  • Completed 9 painting projects (murals, bus stops, safety barricades, etc.); 
  • Conducted 6 beach and 19 roadside cleanups, and; 
  • Removed 400 feet of chain of love and 212 invasive bamboo stalks. 

At the ceremony, Lt. Governor Joshua Tenorio commended the conservation corps graduates, “I am really happy and grateful for this great partnership with the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability and really how all of you are pioneers in this movement to transform the island. In many ways and across many disciplines, the public sector, private sector and civil society.” 

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

WHAT IS G3? 

Guam Green Growth or G3 is the island’s most comprehensive public-private partnership created to achieve a sustainable future. Aligned with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, G3 cultivates an ecosystem for transformative action to achieve our island’s sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future. UOG facilitates the island-wide initiative in cooperation with the Office of the Governor of Guam and the 99 members of the G3 Working Group representing all sectors of our society.    

UOG alumnus creates mural for professor

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Constance Mural 1 2
Constance Sartor, a UOG Master of Science in Biology, poses next to the giant clam mural she painted for UOG Assistant Professor Sarah Lemer.

The University of Guam Marine Laboratory has a new addition to its collection of murals — an assortment of giant clams (Tridacna maxima) in the office of UOG Assistant Professor Sarah Lemer.  

The mural was painted by Constance Sartor, a University of Guam Master of Science in Biology. Sartor has been under the mentorship of Lemer since 2018 as part of the university’s Guam NSF EPSCoR Graduate Research Assistantship.  

According to Sartor, Lemer wanted a mural in her new office that was related to the work being done in the Lemer Invertebrate Genomics Lab, which is studying various marine invertebrates to better understand how they response to climate change and reef degradation. 

“I chose giant clams because I find them so naturally beautiful with their vibrant colors and different patterns — there are so many different phenotypes within a single species — so I thought they’d be perfect for her new lab,” said Sartor.  

Sartor worked on the mural while Lemer was off-island, hoping to surprise her once she arrived back on Guam. The mural took 10 hours to complete.  

“When I came back and saw the extent of what she did, it was fantastic,” said Lemer. “I’m really happy that I’ll always have this. Wherever she goes, I’ll always have this from her.” 

EPSCoR researcher participates in a collaborative paper on genetic data recording

Coral Study Justin 3
Coral Study Justin 3

A report that brought together researchers all over the United States highlights the need to address gaps in data recording to improve biological diversity monitoring across the globe.  

Justin Berg, a University of Guam EPSCoR graduate research assistant, collaborated with other researchers to produce the paper, “Poor data stewardship will hinder global genetic diversity surveillance.” PNAS published the brief report in July this year. 

For the study, the researchers looked at publicly available data in the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC). The study notes that most scientific journals require authors to archive their genetic data in a permanent database, and the INSDC is the leading repository of raw genomic data. 

With the available data in the INSDC and other open-access repositories, the study notes that researchers can now “genotype thousands of loci or sequence whole genomes from virtually any species.”  

During the research process, Berg said they found gaps or missing metadata in these data sets, or it indicated different geographical locations. According to Berg, as of October 2020, the Sequence Read Archive of INSDC contained 16,700 unique wild and domesticated eukaryotic species and 327,577 individual organisms. He said only 14 percent of the genomic data had spatiotemporal metadata for genetic diversity monitoring. 

Berg said, “That essentially means when people place their genetic sequences in a database, from an international level all the way to the United States NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), they may be missing data sets and missing metadata that are concurrently in past or current studies. Right now, through this project, we show that 86 percent of these projects were missing some form of metadata, including the year that it was collected or the location where it was collected.” 

According to the report, the researchers looked at aquatic and terrestrial domesticated species recorded in the INSDC through the NCBI because biodiversity studies mostly focus on these targets. 

The report notes that, in principle, these data can “provide time-stamped records for genetic diversity monitoring, to support the goals of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).” In addition, the data can be used to shed light on “the evolutionary and ecological processes that shape biodiversity across the globe.” 

As an instrument for sustainable development, the CBD focuses on the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. 

“This study can help with genetic diversity monitoring through the United Nations Convention on Biological biodiversity. It can do this by including increased metadata in the future. So, if someone from another part of the world wants to go in, anyone can access this genetic data,” Berg said.  

Berg and the other researchers said they join others in calling for ambitious goals to safeguard genetic diversity and the knowledge structures that will support this goal. “Common to proposed genetic diversity monitoring agendas is a shared vision whereby agile pipelines would intake raw genomic data and produce outputs that directly inform conservation policies and decisions,” the researchers said. 

The researchers emphasized that without appropriate archival genomic data that include the spatiotemporal metadata, crucial information will be unavailable to such pipelines, and researchers will be unable to monitor genetic biodiversity or reconstruct past baselines. 

Berg said they are planning to release a more comprehensive report on their findings.  

The paper can be accessed through PNASa peer-reviewed scientific journal.  

Graduate student participates in artist-at-sea program 

Artist at Sea Photo 1

Constance Sartor, a University of Guam Master of Science in Biology and a Guam NSF EPSCoR Graduate Research Assistant, participated in the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Artist-at-Sea program over the summer, which provides artists an opportunity to work side-by-side with marine scientists during a research expedition.  

From June 5 to July 9, Sartor spent 34 days onboard research vessel Falkor with 39 researchers and crew members as it traveled to the Phoenix Islands Archipelago, a group of coral atolls in Kiribati.  

During the expedition, the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastian descended as far as 2000 meters to collect deep-sea organisms within the Phoenix Islands Archipelago.  

“When you’re in a shallow reef, there’s so much diversity like fish and corals but when you get down where there’s no light, everything is kind of like a desert,” said Sartor. “It takes a while to find a tiny coral. There are not many fish so it’s like a treasure hunt. It’s surprising when you find something cool.”  

Sartor worked with the scientists to photograph and measure the samples collected by the ROV.  

In preparation for the voyage, Sartor brought more than 50 magazines with her to create upcycled collages based on the photos of the samples.  

“I advocate ‘upcycling’ because it helps keep some of the items out of landfills,” said Sartor. “Rather than using paint, which comes in disposable plastic or metal tubes, I like to give a ‘new life’ to magazines that would otherwise be thrown into landfills.”  

Out of the hundreds of samples collected over the course of the voyage, Sartor created 8 magazine collages of the unique starfish, crabs, corals and other deep-sea organisms collected by the ROV using magazine images of flowers, a sunset, and clothing.  

The body of works Sartor created are now a part of the Artist-at-Sea program’s traveling exhibit, which features art made and inspired by the work done on the Falkor. 

 

Students win community-funded scholarships

Scholarship Therese Miller

Two Guam NSF EPSCoR students have been awarded community-funded scholarships through the University of Guam Endowment Foundation in October 2021.  

“I’m really grateful. It feels really validating to receive this scholarship and get the affirmation that what I’m doing is worthwhile even in the eyes of other people,” said Therese Miller, a University of Guam Master of Science in Biology and a Guam NSF EPSCoR graduate research assistant.  

Miller received $500 in academic assistance as the recipient of the James A. Marsh Scholarship in Marine Biology or Water Resources, which was started by its namesake to support graduate students in pursuing thesis research.  

Britney Sison, an undergraduate chemistry and biology student at the University of Guam as well as an NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance research fellow, received a combined total of $2,000 dollars from the JFK High School of 1969 and the Palau Women’s Club Scholarships.  

“I feel fortunate and extremely grateful to the Palau Women’s Club and the JFKHS Class of 1969 for supporting students and their academic and career goals,” said Sison. 

As for what advice she would give to anyone who is considering applying to scholarships, Miller said to just try.  

“Go ahead and apply,” she said. “If you see something and you think it’s too competitive or hard, I would say just go for it because you never know. Your shot is as good as anybody else’s.” 

Conservation Corps explores circular uses for invasive vine

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Mixing it Up: Members of the Guam Green Growth Conservation Corps were challenged to come up with circular economy ideas for the harvested vines.
 

With its pink and white blossom, the cadena de amor or “chain of love” has been a ubiquitous part of the island’s landscape, but not in a good way. The invasive vine’s canopy of flowers and tendrils choke native forests, preventing the growth of native understory plant species. 

But the University of Guam G3 Conservation Corps found a way to fight back by repurposing parts of the invasive plant into viable products for the circular economy. As part of their training, the G3 Conservation Corps members cleared portions of Yona land overrun by the invasive vine in September. After that, they turned the harvested plant materials into a variety of products, from edible food items such as pesto, furikake, tea, to nonedible products such as clothing dye and bath bombs.  

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Bath Bombs: The Conservation Corps participated in a workshop to create bath bombs with the harvested Chain of Love vines and flowers.

The corps members presented the products at a circular economy workshop. “The reason we did this workshop was to encourage the members to think of how to prolong the life of resourcesThe discussion that we had was how to get the community to come back to the idea of the circular economy,” G3 circular economy coordinator Myracle Mugol said. 

Guam currently follows a linear economic model where resources are extracted, turned into products, and then disposed of after use. The circular economy, in comparison, closes the loop by prolonging the product life cycle and finding another purpose for waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Doing so keeps materials in use and, in the long run, lessens the burden on natural resources and regenerates natural systems.   

At the workshop in Santa Rita, participants showcased the products made from parts of the plant. 

Amanda Dedicatoria, science communicator for NSF EPSCoR prepared a pesto recipe using the chain of love leaves. “The leaves are a little bitter, so it was a little tough to think of what to make out of it. But pesto came to mind. I thought that the basil and the garlic — which are two very strong flavors used in pesto — would mask the bitterness or even complement it. It took two nights of recipe testing to see if it would work,” Dedicatoria said. 

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Sustainable Snack: Amongst the new ideas to use the vine was Pesto, prepared by G3 team member Amanda Dedicatoria.

Meanwhile, Joseph Certeza, a conservation corps member, prepared a textile dye using plant tubers. “As conservation corps members, we are tasked and challenged by each other as well as the project to create products out of the chain of love. I am a textile designer, someone who likes to use natural dyes,” he said. 

Jasmine Flores-Cantrell of Numa’lo Refillery also lead a workshop that incorporated the leaves and flower of the invasive plant in a bath bomb recipe that aimed to reduce waste in an ecological way. 

“We know that invasive species do harm to native species, and to remove them is one thing, but what do you do with that waste,” said Flores-Cantrell. “To use them and reuse them in a product that is beneficial to the body, is also beneficial to the core.”   

The G3 Conservation Corps program prepares the community for the emerging green economy. The program is aligned with the current island-wide efforts to achieve sustainability and other UN SDGs. 

The implementation of a circular economy on the island contribute to achieving multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 8 (economic growth), SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate change), among others. 

UOG study to examine genetic connectivity of fish, snails, and shrimp native to Guam and Marianas rivers

2021 diadromous 4 web

In an effort to manage and conserve diadromous fish, snails, and shrimp that are native to rivers in Guam and the Marianas, a researcher from the University of Guam will be working over the next four years to collect and genetically analyze species found in the region’s watersheds.

Diadromous animals are those that transition between freshwater and saltwater environments at different stages of their life cycles.

Daniel Lindstrom

“Effective conservation management of these aquatic communities starts with discerning their historical genetic connections and/or isolation,” said Associate Professor Daniel Lindstrom, who holds a doctorate in zoology and is overseeing the project.

The work is being funded by the university’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant. 

Nature of diadromous animals

Many of the fish, snail, and shrimp species that live in the streams of Southern Guam are spawned in freshwater before drifting into the ocean as larvae before migrating back to freshwater to grow into adults and spawn.

“When the eggs of these species hatch, they get washed out into the ocean,” Lindstrom said. “There is a possibility that the animals you find in freshwater in the island region may all be connected because of this larval marine phase.”

‘Rewriting the book’ on these organisms

Lindstrom plans to collect specimens from each of Southern Guam’s 14 main watersheds and then eventually expand to Saipan and Rota to augment the collection. An initial collection has already been conducted in the Asmafines and Sella Rivers.

As the specimens are collected, they will be photographed, dissected, and then undergo DNA extraction.

“By looking at the genetics of these animals, I can check how similar they are to the same species found in another river on Guam and check the genetic similarity to see the patterns in their population,” Lindstrom said. “Even though those two rivers flow into the ocean less than 50 meters apart, they have different species in them. That’s really strange and I hope our genetic and survey work will find answers for that.”

He is targeting approximately 60 species that have not been genetically confirmed as existing or distinct species and have been referred to with tentative names or listed only by genus but without a species name.

“There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that goes: ‘The first step on the path to true knowledge is getting the names of things right,’ so I’m really excited about that, and I’m hoping that’ll be my scientific legacy on Guam,” he said. “We’re pretty much rewriting the book on the island’s native diadromous organisms.”

Potential to discover new species

It’s possible the research team — including EPSCoR-sponsored graduate students Khanh Ly and Karina Mejia and undergraduate student Louise Pascua — may uncover a few new species along the way.

Khanh Ly

“I’m excited to see what species we can describe and to find new species – whether they’re here or on other islands,” Ly said. “I’d like to publish research about them for other people to use.”

This project will contribute to 30 years of collecting and genetically analyzing specimens from watersheds all over the tropics, including Guam, Saipan, Rota, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. 

All of the preserved specimens and tissues collected over the course of the project will go to the GECCO Biorepository, a physical and cyber warehouse of records and images operated by the Guam NSF EPSCoR program. The biorepository can be accessed online at https://specifyportal.uog.edu/.

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