Jim Kauahikaua: He is named scientist-in-charge after a year spent fighting cancer
Islander to head observatory
HILO » During his days as a U.S. Geological Survey intern in Denver in 1976, Jim Kauahikaua once walked in 6 inches of snow wearing rubber slippers.
The Kamehameha Schools graduate noted for his big grin and bigger, bushy beard has been named scientist-in-charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, effective Sunday, the observatory announced yesterday.
He is the first person selected from among staff members to head the observatory since the mid-1970s.
Kauahikaua will replace Don Swanson, who originally intended to take the top observatory post for four years but has remained in charge for nearly eight years.
Swanson will continue as a researcher at the observatory, studying the history of explosive eruptions from Kilauea volcano.
The appointment of Kauahikaua, notable for his transition from a slipper-shod local boy to the holder of a doctorate in geophysics, is even more remarkable because of his year-long recovery following six months of treatment last year for nasopharyngeal cancer.
The first symptoms, when doctors had not yet diagnosed the cancer, were double vision, which Kauahikaua counteracted by wearing a patch over one eye.
Once the cancer was discovered, the family decided to make Kauahikaua's progress against it a public matter, posting regular updates on a Web site maintained by his brother David. Through chemotherapy and the loss of Kauahikaua's hair and trademark beard, the Web site offered photos of the bald but smiling patient.
The Web site, much of it authored by Kauahikaua's wife, Jeri, reports that the beard is now growing back.
Kauahikaua's new title, scientist-in-charge, is regularly abbreviated by observatory insiders as SIC. Jeri reports in the latest Web entry, "When he occupies his new position as leader of the pack, Jim will have made a great leap, from sick to SIC!"
Kauahikaua began his career with a degree in geology from Pomona College in California in 1973. He obtained his master's degree and then concluded his doctorate in 1983, both from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
His current work includes the density, magnetic and electrical resistivity of the Hawaiian Islands. The work indicates how the islands formed and evolved over time, Swanson said.
With all this, Swanson added, "In his spare time, Jim sings in the Volcano Festival and Kamehameha Alumni choruses."
Seen at http://starbulletin.com/2004/10/01/news/story12.html
Cross-posted to hawaiians and to nativeamerican
His personal website can be seen here:
(I had to hunt it down LOL)