Copyright © Marine Sponges from Hawaii. All rights reserved. [Jaaziel E. Garcia-Hernandez]

Dr. Nicole de Voogd is a world renown marine sponge taxonomist who was responsible for identifying the marine sponges that were collected during the study. She is a permanent researcher at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands ( We are extremely thankful for the collaboration between Nicole and the research team in Dr. Wright's laboratory. 

Kehau Hagiwara is currently pursuing a PhD. from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is one of Dr. A.D. Wright's graduate students that is working in his laboratory. Kehau Hagiwara served as my mentor throughout the research project, she taught me how to perform various biological assays (antioxidant and antibiotic) in order to test the activity of shallow and mesopohotic reef sponge organic extracts. 

PhD. Candidate Kehau Hagiwara 

Research Team:

  • Dr. Dovi Kelman - Project Adviser: Dr. Wright's Post Doc at the Waiakea Research Center
  • Dr. de Maintenon - Senior Thesis Adviser (University of Hawaii at Hilo, Marine Science Department)
  • Dr. Adolf - Senior Thesis Adviser (University of Hawaii at Hilo, Marine Science Department)
  • Dr. Colbert - Senior Thesis Adviser (University of Hawaii at Hilo, Marine Science Department)
  • ​John Coney - Scanning Electron Microscope (University of Hawaii at Hilo, Marine Science Department)
  • Beatriz Romero Cordero - Assisted with scientific dives (Biologist, UPRM)
  • Senifa Annandale - Scientific Diver
  • Nathan Richey - Scientific Diver

Mauritius Valente Bell (Photo: Elliott Jessup)

Dr. Anthony D. Wright is the Principal Investigator Adviser for this on-going research project. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo,  at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is a world leader in marine natural product drug discovery and a recognized expert in the area of structure elucidation using NMR. His research group discovered the first compounds from the marine environment to have selective antimalarial activity and were also the first to isolate endophytic fungi from marine algae. His group was at the forefront in developing new methodologies for solving chemical structures of various natural products an area where they are still active.  His laboratory is located at the Waiakea Research Center, where he and his students explore the biological activity and natural products chemistry of various niche macro- and micro-organisms found on the Big Island of Hawaii. (

Jaaziel E. García-Hernández (B.S. Marine Science, University of Hawaii at Hilo, 2012) is an aspiring sponge taxonomist and ecologist. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree at the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez. His thesis focuses on testing the shallow and mesophotic reef connectivity hypothesis by studying the biodiversity of sponges through molecular and classical taxonomic techniques. 

Jaaziel E. García-Hernández

Dr. Anthony D. Wright

Marine S​ponges from Hawaii: Big Island



Mauritius V. Bell is the University of Hawaii at Hilo's Unit Diving Coordinator and served as my diving safety officer (DSO). He oversaw all scientific dives related to this research project. He was also a crucial member of the scientific diver team that assisted me in the sampling of the marine sponges. More importantly, he served as my diving mentor- teaching me proper scientific diving techniques that were used during this project, and continue to use for my present research.