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April’s Nerd Nite Honolulu presents work by three graduate scholars from the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center (PI-CASC) at UH Mānoa!

Q: What is PI-CASC?

A: PI-CASC is a collaborative partnership between the US Geological Survey and a university consortium hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, with the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the University of Guam, designed to support sustainability and climate adaptation in communities across the Pacific Islands.

Our featured talks:

“Rising Up to Sea-Level Rise” by Carla Baizeau

American Samoa is experiencing an accelerated rate of sea-level rise because of their land subsidence since the 2009 earthquake. Our project focuses on the co-development of a Sea-Level Rise Viewer with more precise vertical land motion enabling decision makers to assess future coastal impacts.

Carla did her undergrad in natural sciences and is now focusing on physical oceanography. She is a second year MS student at UH Manoa working on sea-level rise and coastal impacts in American Samoa with Dr. Phil Thompson at the UH Sea-Level Center.

“What is a Data Portal, and Why Won’t She Shut-Up About It?” by Annie Chien

How are data and climate change intertwined, and how can these be used in unison to combat climate change, especially in island nations? As researchers stemming from Western institutions of academia, these questions must also be met at the crossroads of community engagement in American Samoa in order to co-produce knowledge. Annie will share key takeaways about her time working in American Samoa, what has and hasn’t worked, and why open-access data and geospatial tools are the answer to the future of climate change.

Annie is a first-year masters student under Dr. Christopher Shuler, and a PI-CASC scholar with a background in geology, biology, and environmental science. She is also deeply passionate about promoting justice, diversity, and equity in her workplaces. Her project, which is building a climate and geospatial data portal with government agencies in American Samoa, is a reflection of her interest in promoting open-access data at the intersection of climate change and environmental justice.

“Bohemian Behemoths: Kinks in the Animal Kingdom” by Paolo Marra-Biggs

The ocean is a strange place, where the unconventional liquid medium allows for obscure body adaptions in form and function. And arguably, the most evolutionarily significant “purpose” is procreation, so come learn about some of the wacky ways critters court, copulate and cuddle- with a spotlight on the bi-valve behemoth – the giant clam.

Paolo Marra-Biggs is a PhD candidate at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology in the ToBo lab, studying the decline of bivalve populations in the Samoan Archipelago. He worked for several years in American Sāmoa with the National Park Service, where he worked with teams to help save coral reefs from the prolific outbreak of Crown of Thorn Seastars (COTs).

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