Salt Lake City, UTAH – UH Maui College Natural Sciences major Brian Perkins presented his work at the 2017 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science at its three-day conference last October.

Perkins wanted to develop a less expensive but accurate water testing procedure to address reef pressure and coral decline. He is a member of SACNAS Maui Chapter at the UH Maui College, a club dedicated to fostering the success of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics for students, faculty, and staff to attain advance degrees, careers, and promote positions of leadership in STEM fields.

Lui and Brian at SACNAS COnference

UHMC Chancellor Lui Hokoana and student Brian Perkins at the 2017 SACNAS Conference in Utah.

Below is a description from student Brian Perkins:

Last October I had the privilege of travelling to chilly Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in STEM (SACNAS) Conference for a poster presentation on research I completed at UH Maui College.

My chosen research was on the testing of water quality in nearshore ecosystems around West Maui beaches using spectroscopic analysis. The aim was to find a way to make water testing more feasible, less costly and more accurate. Starting in October 2016, I began research on the application of spectroscopy in sensing and data collection pertaining to the presence of possible contaminants within sea water.

In July 2017, I began sampling water sources and experimenting in the physics laboratory of the Ike Lea building at the college. I had the guidance and help from many experts in the UHMC STEM department including Dr. Rai, Dr. Nathan Withers, and Dr. Peter Fisher. Currently, water samples are shipped to a laboratory on Oahu at a high cost and I wanted to cut out the process entirely and place data collection and analysis in the field.  With better testing capabilities, researchers are able to know what is pressuring the reefs and causing coral decline with persistent and up-to-date data collection and analysis.

I gained valuable advice and formulated new strategies for the pursuit of my education and inspiration to continue on my path. This experience has made me a stronger student, more interested in research and has expanded my network of scholars.

The conference helped to instill a valuable perspective that cannot be found anywhere else. Students interested can contact me at and attend a SACNAS Chapter meeting at UHMC. I can help you start research projects in your area of interest.

SACNAS Maui Chapter aims to send more delegates at this year’s conference.

SACNAS Maui Chapter will host a cultural workshop on Saturday, January 27, 2018 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Paeloko Learning Center in 2425 Kahekili Highway in Wailuku. Those interested may RSVP to Lei Ishikawa at (808) 984-3334 or email


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