UH Med Now
David Haymer of Cell and Molecular Biology chosen as Fulbright Specialist
John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Professor David Haymer received a Fulbright Award in 2016 recognizing his expertise in DNA-based methods for identifying species.
Dr. Haymer’s research has focused on the vast numbers of different insects in Hawai’i, many of which are extremely difficult to identify using traditional methods.
“The use of DNA tools to make species identifications holds great potential for both broad studies of this vast biodiversity resource and for narrow applications such as discriminating between very closely related insect species, including mosquitoes and other insect pests, which may be carriers of diseases like dengue and zika viruses,” said Haymer.
Haymer’s work is of interest beyond Hawai’i. Many countries in the Asia-Pacific regions now share many of the beneficial and the damaging species found in Hawai’i, he said, because of trade and our similar geographic and environmental features. “The same DNA tools used for identifications can also be used to track the movements of these species from one location to another,” said Haymer.
Faculty members at Naresuan University in Thailand sought Dr. Haymer’s expertise through the Fulbright Scholar program, sponsored by the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars. He traveled to the country to teach and do research in DNA based methods for making species identifications, sometimes known as “DNA barcoding.” He also conducted workshops on scientific writing and presentations in English.
“Today, scientists around the world realize that they must be able to communicate effectively in English,” Haymer explained. “Even for people comfortable with using English as a language, the effective use of it for scientific presentations is a skill that must be acquired.”
Dr. Haymer, who lives in Hawai’i Kai, has conducted science-writing workshops in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I enjoy doing both teaching and research,” Dr. Haymer said. “It can be a struggle to balance the two, but I cannot imagine having a career without doing both.”