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ASCC 2017 Science Symposium showcases student projects

ASCC Science Department chairman Dr. Randel DeWees (front, center) with some of the students who participated in last week's Science Symposium at the College.  [Photo: J. Kneubuhl]

The Science Department at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) hosted its annual Science Symposium last week, an event open to students from both the College and the Territory’s high schools.

“The Symposium provides an opportunity, for science to showcase their scientific activities and findings before the general public of American Samoa. Not only does the symposium allow the students to hone their presentation skills, but it can also help bolster self esteem and competence in their respective fields,” said ASCC Science Department chairman Dr. Randel DeWees, who also served as moderator for the event.

The program took the form of 10 presentations, some by individual students and others collaborations by two or more.

Michelle Paletaleo, Puaolele Tausau and Iosefo Sio took to the podium first to give a report titled “Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources (ACNR) Piggery and Greenhouse,” in which they focused on their internship experiences over the summer working in the named areas of the College’s ACNR division.

Anastasia Magalo followed with “Caripac Summer Internship in Pohnpei,” which reported on her trip to Pohnpei along with two other students from American Samoa for the learning experience of being part of the Caripac (Carribbean/Pacfic) summer program. 

In their presentation “Global Climate Change Workshop,” Saelia Holmgren and Naomi Galea’i discussed their experiences at a summer event, which explored topics such as ocean acidification and new scientific approaches to addressing the challenges of climate change.

Malia Talia next shifted the topic to “Catfish in the Mekong River Delta,” recalling her experiences this summer traveling all the way to Vietnam to take part in a study of the more than 300 species of catfish found in the named region.

Ulelemaikalani Kwon followed with “Identification of Phytophthona colocasiae resistance and tolerance in Samoan taro cultivars,” a discussion of the scientific effort to find a taro species resistant to the taro blight disease.

With all of the previous speakers having been ASCC students, Karallyn Fitisone of South Pacific Academy showed that science projects also take place in our high schools with her presentation “The effect of anthropogenic litter on the health of mangrove wetland forest in Masefau, American Samoa,” a study of how trash dumping impacts American Samoa’s fragile mangrove areas.

ASCC student Johann Vollrath next touched on equally urgent environmental issues with his presentation “Summer Internship with the National Park Services.”

Faatoia Areta looked into the seldom-explored topic of native healing methods with her talk “Determination of antimicrobial activity of aqueous leaf extracts of Samoa medicinal plants.”

Imeleta Luamanu gave a presentation with the complex-sounding title “Modified Kassai (1991) McMaster technique for faecal egg counting (FEC) and the efficiency of Doramectin as a chemical control,” which focused on the livestock health issues she studied during a summer internship in the Independent State of Samoa.

Rounding-off the proceedings, Claudia Thompson spoke on the topic “Okeanos Explore in Training Program,” in which she spoke of her learning experiences as part of the team mapping the ocean floor on a research vessel.

“Through constructive criticism, the young scientists gain a more refined understanding of their projects and scientific concepts,” said Dr. DeWees. “This is important, as science is dynamic and ideas are constantly being revisited and refined.

“It is our hope to broaden the Science Symposium to bring more of the island’s scientists together to promote the youth in this important endeavor,” he concluded.

More information on the Science programs at ASCC can be found in the ASCC Catalog, accessible online at: