Dr. Kamuela Yong KSK’03 has received The University of Hawai‘i Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching by the education system’s Board of Regents as a tribute to faculty members who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity and personal values that benefit students.
Yong is an associate professor in the Mathematics, Natural and Health Sciences Division at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu. He joined the university in 2015 after becoming the first Native Hawaiian to earn a doctorate in applied mathematics.
Yong explains that “teaching is a learning experience,” and he strives to improve by constantly learning from his students. A student of his said: “Dr. Yong is an amazing teacher…he cares about his students, is very approachable and always checked up on everyone during class.”
He has provided tutoring to all students during his lunch break, and has created upwards of 225 online math videos representing more than 48 hours of instructional content. In July 2019, Yong was selected to co-lead a $2.5 million National Science Foundation, Tribal Colleges and Universities Program grant to support native-serving institutions geared toward advancing STEM programs and research capacities.
Yong’s research interests include mathematical modeling of biological, ecological and epidemiology systems using diffusion. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, he used formulas and algorithms to provide estimates of how the coronavirus could spread based on different approaches to flattening the curve.
Ultimately, his goal is to “break down the barrier that many students have in mathematics.”