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Kamehameha Schools Kapālama seniors Taylor Moniz, Joshua Parker, Cade Kane and Dakota Kaupu swept the awards in this year’s American Indian Science and Engineering Society Research Competition. According to their instructors Dr. Ali Seyedali ​and Dr. Grant Yamashita, each student researcher not only possesses an awesome intellect, but exemplary character as well.

KS Kapālama seniors sweep research awards at national indigenous STEM conference

Oct. 27, 2020

Contributed by 'Alohi Bikle

Kamehameha Schools Kapālama seniors took top honors in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Research Competition held as part of this year’s virtual AISES National Conference. KSK Honors Science Research instructors Dr. Ali Seyedali ​and Dr. Grant Yamashita provided support and guidance to the students to help prep them for the competition.

The haumāna emerged victorious amongst a field of indigenous scholars from across the country. Each student researcher presented digital posters outlining their projects and were questioned by judges via chat.

“To see our students perform so well on the national stage is exhilarating,” said KS Kapālama Poʻo Kula Dr. Taran Chun KSK’95. “The fact that this is an indigenous STEM-focused conference further sweetens the accomplishment because it underscores the innate connection between native intelligence and the studies of science, technology, engineering and math.”

Taylor Moniz won first place in the competition’s Pre-College Poster Presentations Division with her research project entitled, “Ivermectin Induces Apoptosis, Cell Cycle Arrest, and Senescence in C4-2 Prostate Cancer Cells.” Dakota Kaupu won second place with her project, “Comparison of DNA Sequences of Different Rubus Plants.” Joshua Parker took third place with his project, “Developing and Analyzing Hydropower Generators in Fishpond Mākāhā,” and Cade Kane earned an honorable mention with his project, “Isolation and Characterization of Endophytes from Cordyline Fruticose.”

Each student researcher won a cash prize. Kaupu and Kane also came away with brand new laptops after being recognized in The Boeing Company Laptop Awards Division of the research competition.

The Honors Science Research kumu are beyond proud of their students. “We are proud of their achievements for sure,” Yamashita said. “But more than that, we are proud of their character. Each of them is humble, hard-working and polite, with a great sense of humor.”

Due to the implementation distance learning during the pandemic, science students have been unable to use school labs to conduct their experiments. But according to Yamashita, students have successfully pivoted to see what they can do from home with a limited set of equipment.

“Challenges can be good,” Yamashita said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to think outside the box, and it has challenged students to be creative and resilient. Itʻs easy to be good at something when you have all the resources and equipment. Seeing the students thrive when those things have been taken away? Thatʻs been amazing to see and is a testament to the excellence and resilience of our students at KS.”

The AISES National Conference works towards achieving the mission of AISES by providing students and professionals access to career pathways, professional and leadership development, research and networking while meaningfully incorporating elements of indigenous culture. For more information about the AISES National Conference, visit their website

Link: Honolulu-Star Advertiser: Kamehameha Schools students dominate at national science conference

KS Kapālama Honors Science Research instructors Dr. Ali Seyedali and Dr. Grant Yamashita provided support and guidance to the students to prep them for the competition.

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