National Minority Health Month - MHRT student profile

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Caleb Mantanona is an undergraduate student research trainee with JABSOM’s MHRT program.

Earlier this week, in part of National Minority Health Month, we shared information about JABSOM’s Minority Health Research Training Program (MHRT) and Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) offered through the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Pharmacology.

Today, we’re highlighting Caleb Moantanona, a current trainee in the MHRT program, whose current research on quantifying emissions from a recent wildfire in Hawaiʻi led him to explore health science.

Which degrees are you working toward, or have already earned?
I am currently working toward a B.S. in Global Environmental Science with a Minor in Economics.

What is your research about?
My current research focuses on quantifying the emissions from a large wildfire in 2022 that took place in Leilani, Hawaiʻi.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research? What motivates you toward this area of research?
This research currently contributes to the global greenhouse gas accounting efforts that can help advance climate models and furthers the understanding of our island’s footprint. In addition, this research can also contribute to public health and economic studies. I am driven to do this project for my interests in environmental science and I am motivated to develop my technical skills in research and data analysis.

Why did you choose to apply to the MHRT or MARC program?
I chose to apply to the MHRT program because I wanted to develop my skills and knowledge as a researcher and to gain insight into health science. I had little experience in the healthcare field and saw the MHRT program as an opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals at JABSOM.

What have you found the most exciting about being part of the program?
I found that the diversity of projects that my cohort worked on was the most exciting. We all had such different backgrounds and strengths that we all specialized in a variety of subjects. I was very interested in learning about the hard work each of them put into their projects during our end of program symposium.

What do you enjoy most about your research?
I really enjoyed working with my mentor, Dr. Saksena, who provided mentorship and guidance I had not received before. I am very thankful for the opportunities outside of the project that he provided me that developed my technical and soft professional skills.

Where are you from? If Hawaiʻi, which high school did you graduate from?
I am from Ewa Beach, O’ahu and I graduated from James Campbell High School.

What other interests/hobbies interest you outside of school?
Outside of school, I enjoy being in the ocean, being active, and exploring different foods.

What are you working toward after completing this program? What are your long-term career goals?
My current goals after the MHRT program and as I finish my undergraduate program is to gain work place experience in sustainability. I want to apply and grow my technical skills in research and consulting to help make firms more sustainable and environmentally conscious decisions.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice to share with incoming participants of this program?
Seize the opportunity. The MHRT program can open up relationships and opportunities you may not have anticipated which can lead to great experiences. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone and see everything as a growing opportunity.

For more information on the MHRT program, eligibility for the program, and how to apply, please visit the MHRT website or send them an email here.