Group Members

Visiting Kilauea volcano at Volcanoes National Park in April 2019 with a cohort of amazing student researchers.

Current Members

Alaina Atanes, psychology major, Fall 2020 to present

Alaina’s research focuses on synthesizing a series of novel fluorinated chalcones as potential anti-parasitic agents to combat leishmaniasis. Alaina has a rare physical condition which makes her high level of achievement even more impressive. She has taken a wide variety of physical, earth, and biological sciences but enjoys building new molecules in the research lab the most.

In Spring 2020, Alaina was awarded the Hawaii ACS Chemistry Student of Year from UH West O’ahu and is a current INBRE biomedical research intern. Beyond chemistry, she is also an accomplished artist and fanfic writer.

Nicholas Bailey, post-baccalaureate student (pre-medicine), Fall 2020 to present

Nicholas’ research focuses on the design and synthesis of novel chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of neglected tropical diseases. Nicholas has also worked on natural product extraction and antibiotic evaluation with Dr. Joseph Bariyanga and Dr. Olivia George. In Spring 2020, he was awarded the Hawaii ACS Organic Chemistry Student of Year from UH West O’ahu. Nicholas aspires to be a psychiatrist.

Pashyn Morimoto, health professions major (pre-medicine) at UH West Oahu, Fall 2019-present

Pashyn studied the physicochemical properties of neurostimulant caffeine and the anti-obesity supplement raspberry ketone using UV/Vis spectroscopy. She was awarded the Hawaii ACS Organic Student of the Year from UH West O’ahu in 2019 and presented her work at two local research symposia in 2019 and 2020. Pashyn was selected for the competitive Haskell Environmental Research REU at Kansas University in Summer 2021. Her work was published in Native Science Report as part of the Spring 2020 Student Research Showcase with co-author Diana Le (below).

Group Alumni

Diana Le, health professions major (pre-physical therapy) at UH West Oahu, Fall 2018-Spring 2020

Diana’s first year of research with the group was to synthesize a variety of chalcones with electron withdrawing and donating substituents. She presented this work at the UH Hilo TCBES symposium in Spring 2019. Her second year of research focused on discovering the physicochemical properties of nootropic nutritional supplements using UV/Vis spectrometry. Diana also has an artistic side and won a contest to redesign the logo for the Hawaii INBRE program in April 2019! Her work is currently in press to be published in Native Science Report as part of the Spring 2020 Student Research Showcase with co-author Pashyn Morimoto (above). Congrats Diana!

Khue Huynh, natural science major at Leeward CC, Summer 2015

Khue’s research focused on natural product extraction and antimicrobial assay from Native Hawaiian plants with fellow group member Liping Wang (below). They presented their work at the 2016 JABSOM Biomedical Research and Health Disparities Symposium. While obtaining her BS in Biochemistry from Hawaii Pacific University, she continued this project in the Horgen Group. Khue is currently pursuing a MS degree in Chemistry at the University of Hawaii Manoa and is interested in pursuing a career as an organic chemist.

Liping Wang, natural science major at Leeward CC, Summer 2015

Liping’s research focused on natural product extraction and antimicrobial assay from Native Hawaiian plants with fellow group member Khue Huynh (above). They presented their work at the 2016 JABSOM Biomedical Research and Health Disparities Symposium. Liping graduated with a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Hawaii Manoa and is seeking admission to MD programs.

Jonna Ocampo, natural science major at Leeward CC, Summer 2014

Jonna worked on the synthesis and antimicrobial evaluation of a series of 16 chlorinated chalcones with group member Rina Carrillo (below). Jonna has presented her work at multiple regional and national conferences. She has gone on to earn a Masters in Biomedical Science from Florida Institute of Technology and was accepted into the MD program at Ross University. Here is an article about her intensive summer research experience with my group. In addition to being a biomedical scientist and medical school student, she has competed internationally as a powerlifter, and is a published children’s book author.

Rina Carrillo, natural science major at Leeward CC, Summer 2014

Rina spent a summer carrying out the synthesis and antimicrobial evaluation of a series of 16 chlorinated chalcones along with Jonna Ocampo above. Their work was the group’s first published work in this field. After graduating with her BS in Molecular Biology and MS in Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering from the University of Hawaii Manoa, she began her PhD program in the same department. Rina has a passion for plants and has worked in a variety of lab technician roles in addition to being a graduate teaching assistant for upper division biochemistry courses.

Jessi Cadorna (Tsukayama), natural science major at Leeward CC, Fall 2012-Spring 2013

Jessi’s work has impacted hundreds of organic chemistry students at Leeward CC, Windward CC, and UH West O’ahu by helping to create a series of organic chemistry I and II laboratory experiments. Jessi has gone on to earn a BA in Chemistry and Masters of Public Health at the University of Hawaii Manoa. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the Hokama Research Award from the John A. Burns School of Medicine at UH Manoa. Jessi is currently applying to MD programs.

Hiromi Kobayashi, liberal arts major at Leeward CC, Fall 2011

First student at the College to perform a CHEM 299 Independent Study. Her focus was on organic synthesis methodology and the development of hydroxy-substituted chalcones via the Claisen-Schmidt condensation. Hiromi graduated from the University of Hawaii Manoa with a BS in Chemistry and earned an undergraduate Teaching Assistant position during her senior year. She then moved back to Tokyo, Japan where she worked as a professional organic chemist for the Fuijifilm Corporation.

Collaborators

Helmut Kae, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology, Leeward CC

Dr. Kae is the Leeward CC INBRE Co-Coordinator and has mentored over 50 students in a variety of biomedical research projects. He is a co-founder of the Leeward CC annual summer research symposium and his contributions to engaging undergraduates in research experiences has transformed the College. Dr. Kae’s expertise enables our group members to perform the biological evaluation of their synthesized compounds.

Daniela Elliot, PhD, Assistant Professor of Botany, Leeward CC

Dr. Elliot heads the Sustainable Agriculture program at Leeward CC and is the PI for a long-running USDA research grant. Her work has lead to significant advances in agriculture education at the College. She is the go-to expert for Native Hawaiian plant knowledge for our group.

Group Mascot

Mister Mang, The Ginger Rocket

Mister Mang earned a doctorate in cuddling and demands petting at all hours of the day and night. His expertise in laying on keyboards is renowned throughout the entire household. Mang leaves his mark (orange fur) on every shirt and pair of pants he encounters. When Mister Mang is not busy in Dr. Ashburn’s lap getting petted, he spends his free time sleeping on his 7-foot tall cat palace, sleeping on the bed and sleeping in Dr. Ashburn’s dresser. His research focus is on learning to open kitchen cabinets to discover the wonders that lie in the unknown.