Post-doctoral scholars/Visiting researchers

Megan Barnes unnamedis a decision scientist. She joined the lab in early 2016 to lead a multi-stakeholder decision process for West Maui.She has a diverse background in behavioral ecology and both theoretical and applied conservation science, with expertise in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, global vertebrate fauna, tropical ecology, decision science, statistics, impact evaluation, protected areas management, and conservation planning, and global protected areas policy. Her research focuses on cost-effective decisions, monitoring and evaluation, global protected areas policy, using innovative approaches to understand the status and trends of fauna in data poor contexts through the application of advanced statistical methods and emerging technologies.

Carlo Fezzi face Carlo is an applied econometrician and environmental economist. He joined the lab in June 2016 to lead an economic assessment of the impacts of climate change on ecosystem services in Maui. Carlo is interested in answering environmental policy questions using quantitative information and statistical methodologies grounded in economic theory. Examples of his recent work are: estimating the impact of climate change on agriculture using farm-level data; developing spatial models for valuing multiple ecosystem services; developing semi-parametric models for environmental valuation. He enjoys interdisciplinary research and collaborating with environmental scientists, ecologists, hydrologists, geographers and, of course, economists.

PhD students

IMG_5704Jutha Supholdhavanij is a Royal Thai government scholar. He is interested in the intersection of environmental conflict resolution, ecotourism, and community-based ecosystem management. He is focusing on using negotiation skills to deal with conflicts arising in local development plan process. Jutha grew up in Bangkok, Thailand. He obtained his M.U.R.P. (Urban and Regional Planning) from Chulalongkorn University and M.A. (Criminology and Criminal Justice) from Mahidol University in Thailand. Before starting the NREM PhD program in Fall 2012, Jutha worked in private sector as assistant researcher undertaking assessments on annual projects of many Thai government agencies. He also obtained his B.A. (Hons) (Philosophy) from Thammasat University in Thailand.

dsc_0301-copyHla Htun is a certified Professional Civil Engineer (California), Hla's research interest lies in Water Resources Management. As present day challenges call for multidisciplinary effort, he is studying integration of physical science models (watershed), social science models, and participatory system models to evaluate ecosystem services. In a recent project, he used these methods to study climate change impacts on three endangered Hawaiian bird species. Hla obtained his B.E (Civil) from Government Technological College under Yangon Technical University in Myanmar (Burma) and M.S (Civil) from California State University, Long Beach with emphasis in Environmental Engineering. He has worked in both private and public sectors: as a site engineer for Asia World Construction Company, as an architectural planning and retrofitting Assistant in Cataldo Architects Inc., and as a supporting Engineer (volunteer) in the Public Works Department in City of Cerritos, California.

LVLindsay Veazey is a research assistant with the Oleson lab. Have we really discovered all there is to see in the ocean? The "twilight zone" of coral reefs, also known as the mesophotic zone, is an understudied, biodiverse habitat. Mesophotic coral ecosystems are thought to serve as refugia for shallow water species, provide reseeding material for vulnerable shallow reef corals, and are also hotspots of endemism. I am in the process of refining a pan-Hawai'i map of predicted Leptoseris and Montipora distribution across the main Hawaiian Islands. This will provide a baseline for resource managers and scientists in the islands and other tropical and subtropical coastal communities to monitor and project how these organisms respond to disturbances, especially anthropogenic perturbations. My dissertation work aligns very well with my research in the Oleson lab: I'm using the Coral Reef Scenario Evaluation Tool (CORSET) to connect land and marine models of past, present, and future coastal reef conditions under different stresses. The photo is me looking for signs of habitation in petrel burrows at Kahikinui Forest Reserve in Maui.

MS students

LVAviv Suan is interested in coral reef conservation under climate change. He graduated from UH Mānoa in 2013 with a B.S. in Marine Biology. He has a background in marine ecology working with NOAA’s Coral Reef Ecosystem Program conducting ecological benthic surveys and marine debris removal. Aviv’s current interest focuses on how ecological data is used to guide management. For his MS, he will use an interdisciplinary approach to create ecological models of coral reefs to portray management effects on the reef and its ecosystem services.

 Mia Iwane joins the lab as an MS student, pursuing her interests in the socioeconomic dynamics of fisheries and fisheries management. She hopes to apply social science to better understand the perspectives and behaviors of stakeholders (i.e. fishers, scientists, managers, NGOs, etc.), improve communication between actors, and develop management strategies that are both ecologically and socially sustainable. Her project integrates these themes to explore Big Island fisheries’ interactions with oceanic whitetips and other pelagic sharks to identify collaborative mitigation strategies that will benefit both sharks and fishery participants.

Three professional MS students are currently part of the lab:

Casey Ching is interested in ridge to reef management and cultural dimensions of natural resources. Born and raised in Kailua, Oʻahu, she graduated from Punahou School in 2010 and received a B.S. degree in marine science from Boston University in 2014. She then interned with The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii’s Marine Program and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology’s Education Program as part of Kupu Hawaiʻi. For her capstone project, she will be identifying, mapping, and modeling the cultural dimensions of stream flow within Heʻeia.

Courtney Payne's research interests include coral and estuarine ecology. Currently creating programs for invasive algae removal and monitoring in Paiko Lagoon State Wildlife Sanctuary for Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Website:



Sara Tanigawa's capstone project focuses on the future of industrial hemp production in Hawaii.

Former Oleson Lab Members

Post-doctoral fellows

Bremer_profilepicLeah Bremer was a post-doc with the Oleson lab for a year starting October 2012. Leah is passionate about the interconnection between social and environmental issues and finding solutions that contribute to environmental sustainability and human well-being. Leah recently started as an Assistant Specialist at UH.


PhD students

IMG_1780 smallMichele Barnes is an environmental social scientist whose specialty lies at the intersection of sociology and economics. Her work largely focuses on marine social-ecological systems, with a particular emphasis on fisheries. Michele earned her PhD from NREM in 2015, and is now a research fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia.

me.addictionKim Falinski studied how land-based erosion processes are connected to inputs of sediments and sediment-bound nutrients in the coastal environment.  Her dissertation work focused on identifying the factors, including land use, landscape connectivity, rainfall, and soil characteristics, that influence sediment flux in tropical mountainous conditions and compiling field data to be used in the calibration and validation of sediment transport models in Hawaii. Kim joined the lab after working for two years at the University of Hawaii on both ocean and soil projects related to sedimentation. She originally landed on O'ahu to study microalgae cultivation for aquaculture at Oceanic Institute. Prior to living in Hawaii, she worked at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas as an applied math teacher and researcher. She holds an M.S. from Cornell University in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from MIT. She currently works for TNC in Honolulu.

Master's Students

Ingram_biophotoBecky Ingram is interested in the connection between land and coral reef ecosystems, and using ecosystem-based strategies to approach resource management. An integral part of her research involves examining the interactions between natural and anthropogenic aspects of social-ecological systems, and understanding how these interactions affect the goods and services that society relies on. She is currently working with NOAA’s West Hawai‘i Integrated Ecosystem Assessment team to develop a conceptual ecosystem model of the West Hawai‘i region. Becky began the NREM masters program in the fall of 2014. She chose to pursue her graduate degree at UH Manoa so that she could be closer to her home on the Big Island, and positively impact the environment where she grew up. In 2011, she completed her BA in Environmental Studies and Planning with a minor in Biology at Sonoma State University. During her undergraduate career she completed an internship with the National Marine Fisheries Service, and after graduating began working in water resource conservation. Both opportunities encouraged her interests in conservation and managing resources at an ecosystem scale. Becky currently works for NOAA.

2016-07-25-16-42-46Joey Lecky graduated with his MS in 2016. His Masters thesis work focused on producing maps of cumulative human impact on the marine environment of Hawai‘i using the best available existing spatial information. In addition to geospatial analysis, his project involved assessing ecosystem vulnerability to various threats through expert knowledge elicitation. The results of this project fill a critical gap that is needed by marine managers and communities as they attempt to implement ecosystem based management and coastal and marine spatial planning. Joey currently works as a geographic information systems (GIS) specialist for NOAA's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment.

2016-06-24-10-32-03Shanna Grafeld graduated with her MS in December 2015, with a thesis focused on a collaboration applying Atlantis Ecosystem Model. Shanna applied the fisheries and economic sub-models to Guam, and led an economic valuation of coral reef ecological attributes potentially important to the SCUBA diving industry in Guam. This study identified key aspects of coral reefs that may require further protection or restoration in order to sustain the local SCUBA diving industry, while also defining coral reef bio-indicators that can enable managers gain further insight into socio-economic implications of policy-making. Shanna obtained her B.S. in Natural Resources, with a minor in fisheries and wildlife management from Oregon State University. Shanna received a prestigious fellowship to pursue her PhD in Australia.

IMG_3754Marcus Peng graduated with his MS in Fall 2014. His capstone focused on the Genuine Progress Indicator for the state. Previously, Marcus worked for the Government of Canada. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Economics at UH.



Undergraduate Student Researchers

Lukanicole Zavas graduated in 2017. She conducted independent research with the Oleson lab on the state's Genuine Progress Indicator.