Meet The Team &
Get to Know Us

We aim to align local conservation research with the needs of the community with our freely available, Hawaiʻi-based, NGSS Curriculum

Kalima Kinney

Project Manager
Kalima Kinney has served as Principal of the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences (VSAS) since October of 2105, and she worked in administration and teaching in the Hawaiʻi Public Charter School System since 2003. Kalima holds a B.S. degree in Psychology and a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her areas of expertise include continuous school improvement, positive discipline strategies, arts in education, and working with high needs, at risk, and special needs populations. In 2018, Kalima facilitated the development of the Hawaiʻi PK-12 Research and Development Consortium (RDC) through a partnership with the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences (VSAS). The partnership continued in 2019-2020 through a USDA Forest Service and NOAA Ocean Guardian School grant, and expanded to a state-wide program in 2021-2022 with funding from a Governor Ige GEER Innovation Grant.

Kealohanuiopuna Kinney

Program Science Advisor
Kealoha Kinney is a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service PSW Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. In 2012, Kealoha received his Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Natural Resource Management from Oregon State University, and in 2015 he received his Ph.D in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Brown University. His research focuses on advancing theoretical and applied understandings about the threats facing Hawaiian and Pacific island ecosystems using techniques such as applied molecular ecology, citizen science, disturbance ecology, biocultural resilience, protected area design, and biosecurity. His current research projects include: biosecurity and early detection of tree mortality disease, ungulate ecology and behavior, biodiversity assessment using eDNA, and biocultural resilience and community based conservation action.

Sarah Knox

Program Coordinator
Sarah received her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology (2003) from The University of Wisconsin, Madison. Following completion of her degree, Sarah moved to Hawai‘i to work for USGS mist-netting forest birds to research avian diseases with the Biocomplexity project. Later, Sarah spent time working for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Program where she participated in coastal restoration, sea turtle nesting research, and public outreach. While working as the Wildlife Coordinator for Colorado State Universityʻs Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, Sarah conducted monitoring and management of the threatened and endangered plant and animal species at PōhakuloaTraining Area. She has also contributed to several research projects with the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, including Koa research looking at wood quality, seed orchards, forest growth plots, and forest soil nutrient studies. Sarah is currently the Program Coordinator for the Hawaiʻi PK-12 Research and Development Consortium (RDC) as well as Project Coordinator for the USDA/USFS Molecular Lab and the Hui Kiaʻi Wai O Kaʻū partnership. This position allows her to combine her interests in wildlife ecology and remote sensing technology with her passion for community engagement in science and conservation in Hawai‘i.

Rebecca Ward

Resource Coordinator
Facilitating connections between people and the land they inhabit has been a driving passion throughout Rebecca’s personal life and professional/academic career. In 2018, Rebecca received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Kennesaw State University. In 2019, Rebecca started with Teaching Change as a Malama ʻĀina Alakaʻi intern, crafting remotely accessible learning materials and supporting the facilitation of a Professional Development Pathways Program for high school students. In 2022, she graduated with her M.S. in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Her Master's research worked to validate community- and citizen-science initiatives. Using data collected by middle and high school students across the state, she investigated Hawaiʻi's accelerated rate of ocean warming and its effect on intertidal communities. Through the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, Rebecca now works as the Resource Coordinator for the Hawaiʻi PK-12 Research and Development Consortium (RDC), to help cultivate lasting collaborations between teachers and scientists across Hawaiʻi and develop Hawaii-based, culturally inclusive curriculum.

Lori Anderson

NGSS Curriculum Development Specialist
Lori is a dynamic and creative research leader focused on increasing equity in science education through innovations in curriculum, professional learning, and assessment. She creates products to support the vision of the NGSS with a particular focus on how the crosscutting concepts can increase equity and access for historically underserved students. She has won two national awards for her science teaching, specializing in technology-infused, inquiry-based learning experiences that engage all students. Her current research interests include creating curricula that can build student proficiency with the cognitive tools and practices of science as well as students’ understanding of science core ideas. Lori is passionate about helping students use science to understand and improve the world around them.

Christian Giardina

Program Science Advisor
Christian is currently a research ecologist with the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry in Hilo, Hawaii. He received a BS in Zoology with a minor in Political Science from Duke University. Following several years of working with homeless youth in New York City and then Denver, he went on to study non-violence and social change with Drs. Vincent Harding and Sudarshan Kapur at the Iliff School of Theology, where he received his MA in Religion (1993). Following completion of thesis work examining linkages between Miskito Indian autonomy and resource management in the Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region, Nicaragua, Christian went on to complete an MS in forestry (1996) at Colorado State University, where his thesis work focused on sustainability of forest management practices in Oregon and Wyoming. After completing his MS, Christian completed a PhD in biology (1999) from the University of Denver, where his dissertation research focused on the sustainability of traditional agroforestry practices in Jalisco, Mexico. Following a post-doc at the University of Hawaii at Manoa looking at the ecology of intensively managed forests, Christian went on to a position with the USDA Forest Service looking at climate change effects on forests from stand to landscape scales.

Rebekah Dickens Ohara

CEO of the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests
As the CEO of the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests , Rebekah has helps to realize the vision of vibrant forest communities alive with the voices of Hawai‘i from one generation to the next, through a focus on collaborative partnerships and a belief that when we come together, we are stronger. Much of her academic and organizing careers have focused on the interaction between environment and communities, with a particular focus on the importance of forests. Rebekah received her B.A. in Anthropology in 2009. In 2013 Mrs. Ohara completed her M.A. in Social Science at HSU’s Environment and Community Program, focusing on the social and ecological considerations of tropical forest conservation with a case study in Ecuador. A member of Teach for America, Rebekah relocated to Pāhala, Hawai‘i in 2013, receiving her Teaching License from Chaminade University and teaching elementary school for two years. Rebekah is currently a PhD Candidate at Purdue University in the Forestry and Natural Resources Program, focusing on opportunities for community-based forest management in Hawai‘i. She hopes that this research, and her work at the Akaka Foundation serve to strengthen community-based resource management in the Hawaiian Islands.