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Caleb-Matthew Olaso

Class of 2023-2024

About Caleb-Matthew

Caleb Olaso has lived on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi for his whole life. In primary and intermediate school, he was enrolled in the Kula Kaiapuni (hawaiian language immersion) program, wherein instruction was done exclusively through the Hawaiian language. His teachers referred to him as “Makana”, which was taken from his middle name, “Kuʻumakanamakamaeokalani”. In conversation, he usually goes by his Hawaiian name. Makana developed his English language fluency most throughout his secondary education at Hawaiʻi Technology Academy. He developed a keen interest in the natural sciences and wanted to pursue a career in marine conservation. In 2018, he graduated summa cum laude a year early and enrolled in the biological sciences program at Leeward Community College. Following his first semester, he was recruited as an English peer tutor. Here, he predominantly tutored students learning ESL, English as a Second Language. During his associates degree, he struggled most with chemistry. However, this would slowly develop into a passion as he began attending workshops, study groups, and talks related to the field. After his second semester of general chemistry, he was given an opportunity to mentor STEM students until his graduation. Between 2019 and 2020, he tutored both semesters of general chemistry and organic chemistry and served as a teaching assistant for introductory biology. Following his graduation in 2020, he transferred to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) to pursue two four-year degrees in marine biology and chemistry. While at UHM, Makana was hired to an internship position at Kewalo Marine Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Cooper J. Galvin, a post-doctorate of the McFall-Ngai laboratory. He received training in the fields of molecular biology and microbiology with the goal of altering gene expression in the model organism, the Hawaiian bobtail squid. In 2021, he was accepted into the NSF-REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) summer program and pursued his own research project under the mentorship of Professor Margaret McFall-Ngai at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC). Following the REU program, he continued working as a junior researcher at the McFall-Ngai lab through the funding of the NIH Maximizing Access to Research Careers program. In August of 2022, he published his research on the molecular mechanism of bacterial recognition in the Hawaiian bobtail squid. He is currently conducting research related to fatty acid storage in the Asian tiger mosquito under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Medeiros at PBRC.

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