Post Doc, Graduate and Research Students



  HPN's leadership in bringing neuroscience research, training to Hawaii.



Michael Sonson

Clinical Research Coorinator

​Undergraduate and Major: Biola University, Biological Sciences Major

Prior Research Background: Validation studies in pathology at Hawaii Pathologists Labs, study in epidemiology at Diagnostic Lab Services, studies in Alzheimer’s demographics and comorbidities with HPN.

Research with HPN: Phase 2, 3, and 4 studies on Alzheimer’s, Agitation in dementia, Intractable Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Neurogenic Orthostatic Hypotension, and Parkinson’s.

Aspirations: Currently studying as an MD candidate on a track to become a cognitive neurologist. I want to explore the mechanisms of cognition in the brain and contribute to the clarity of thought of both the scientific community and my patients.

Hobbies: Reading, Music, Storytelling.



Kaitlynn Ebisutani

Research/Medical Student

​Project: Investigation of BACE-Inhibitor for Early Alzheimer's Dementia

Undergraduate: University of Washington, Seattle: B.S. General Biology, Minor Global Health

Medical School: University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine, M.D. Candidate c/o 2020

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy hiking, fishing, and spending time with friends and family. Also have a love for leisure reading.



​Alex Yang, MS Biomedical Engineering

Title: Research Assistant, Chief Innovation and Technology Office, HPN

From: Honolulu, HI

Attended: University of Hawaii at Manoa, Boston University

Major: Bioeng/Biomedical Engineering

Hobbies: Soccer, gaming, hiking

Recently graduated biomedical engineer with clinical observation and product development experience. Graduate work was focused on existing and emerging neurological technologies such as brain computer interfacing, selective nerve stimulation, optogenetics, and hydrocephalus shunt devices. Passionate about medical technology and the impact it has on patients' lives. Long-term goal is to develop affordable and sustainable treatment options for the less fortunate.



Audrey Hagiwara, MS1

Research/Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (Class of 2020)

​Project: Investigations of BACE-Inhibitor for Alzheimer's Dementia​

From: Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Graduated from Punahou School.

Undergraduate: Boston University, BA in Biology with a Specialization in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology and Genetics, BA in Psychology


Research Background: Cancer Research Lab Assistant at Boston University School of Medicine. Research Assistant for Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program.

Hobbies: Figure skating, running, and traveling.



Mitsuki Ota

Research Internship

Junior at Punahou School

Interests: Neurodegenerative disorders

Aspirations: Attend college and medical school and become a physician specializing in neurology or cardiology

Research background: 8 week research internship at the Josai University Pharmaceutical Department. Research was focused on the formulation design of liposomes to enhance skin permeation of hydrophilic drug models.

Hobbies: Reading, traveling, pool



Rhea Alarin, MD

From: Stockton, California

Current city: Waipahu, Hawaii

Undergraduate: Sacramento State, BS Kinesiology

Medicine: University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines

Aspiration: To become a primary care physician specializing in rural and underserved communities as well as mental health with a holistic approach. I want to be able to blend my love for neuroscience and primary care and promote wellness to all walks of life.



Renee del Carmen, MD

Research Volunteer/Post-graduate Physician

From: Orange County, California

Currently: Oahu, Hawaii

Undergraduate: California Polytechnic State University - Pomona, BS Biology, Minors in Chemistry and Psychology

Medical School: University of Santo Tomas - Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Philippines

Hobbies/Interests: On my spare time you can find me doing activities like circuit training, boxing, indoor rock climbing, hiking along the ridges of Hawaii, or stuffing my face with spicy ahi poke. I enjoy fun competitive cooking amongst friends and perfecting the recipe for soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies. I find relaxation in cleaning, reading self-improvement books and memoirs, and reenergizing in my hammock by the beach. I also love collecting I Love Lucy memorabilia.



Catherine Chao

Research Internship

Teach for America Hawai`i 2015

Algebra 2 Teacher at James Campbell High School

Undergraduate & Major: University of California, San Diego (UCSD) with a Physiology & Neuroscience Major and a Chinese Studies Minor

Research background: Currently part of the Bellinger Lab in the Cell & Molecular Department at JABSOM

Aspirations: I intend on becoming a Pediatric Neurologist and will continue to bring STEM-outreach to disadvantaged high schools.

Hobbies: Yoga, running, cheerleading & reading



Sean Awakuni, MS2

Research/Medical Student

John A Burns School of Medicine- MS2

From: Born and raised in Waikele, HI. Graduated from Hawaii Baptist Academy

Undergraduate: Creighton University, BS in Biology

Aspirations: To serve Hawaii and my future patients by learning all that I can while in medical school and by immersing myself in clinical research



Michael Yang, DO

From: Born in Michigan and raised in South Korea with family living in Seoul and Pyeongtaek.

Undergraduate and Doctoral Studies: University of Virginia and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Attending: Psychiatry Resident in Tripler Army Medical Center.

Year of Study: 3rd Year, expected graduation in 2018

Hobbies: Dining Out, Going to cinema, Leisure reading, Working out with my toddler son.

Interesting Facts: I met my wife in Hawaii with our wedding here, and our son was born in Tripler. I had stayed in Molokai for a week in my senior year of HS for a mission trip.

Program: Psychiatry



Alex Ang, MD

Research / Medical Doctor

University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery

Undergraduate: University of Santo Tomas B.S. in Psychology.

Aspirations: To be a pioneer in the field of medicine and to provide free quality healthcare both here and abroad.



Alex Kaplan, MD

From: Land O Lakes, FL

Undergraduate: Florida State University, BS in History & BS in Biological Sciences

Medical School: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, joint MD-MPH program

Residency: Tripler Army Medical Center, Psychiatry

Year of Residency: PGY-2

Academics: Case Report & Poster Presentation – “Acute Dystonic Reaction in the Setting of Clozapine Administration”, Poster Presentation – “FDA-Approved Psychotropic Medications for the Common Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders”, Poster Presentation – “The Regional Campus Psychiatry Rotation (UM) & Team Based Learning”

Scholarly & Leadership Activities: Intern Class President, Resident Educator, Senior Judge at Honolulu District Science and Engineering Fair (HonSEF)



Francine Torricer Sousa

From: Born and raised on Maui, HI

Hawaii School of Professional Psychology Argosy University

3rd year

Class of 2018

Hobbies: Graduate school studies and activities relative to school keep me very busy. I do enjoy to travel and visit new locations.

Class of 2018

Interesting Facts: I am a non-traditional student who has been able to return to college to pursue a career that I had originally hoped to pursue decades ago. I have never stopped being intrigued with the science and study of psychology.

Program: Psychology



Cheynie Nakano, MD

Geriatric Fellow

HADEPT Research











David Bailey

Research / Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Undergraduate & Major: University of Portland, BS Biology





Nina Beckwith, MS2

Research / Medical Student


Undergraduate & Major: UC Davis, Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior (NPB)

Aspirations: To pursue a Neurology residency program, with a special focus on neurodevelopmental and neuromuscular disorders. I hope to serve as a physician in the islands after residency.


Lindsey Carvalho

Research / Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Undergraduate & Major: Seattle University, B.S. in Biology with a minor in Japanese

Aspirations: In order to best serve the people of Hawaii, I intend to explore the field of neurology, particularly in disorders affecting the elderly, such as strokes and dementia.




Nina Ho

Research / Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Undergraduate & Major: University of Puget Sound, Molecular and Cellular Biology











Daniel Hong, MS2

Research / Medical Student

Undergraduate and Major: University of Hawaii at Manoa, BA Biology and Anthropology















Jaclyn Khil

Research / Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine/span>

Research Project: Parkinson's and Neurodegenerative Disorders

Mentor: Panida Piboolnurak, MD, Nuerodegenerative neurologist, Assistant Clinical Professor, University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Undergraduate & Major: Washington University in St. Louis, BA Biology

Mariko Shimizu, MS3

Research / Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Undergraduate & Majors: University of Hawaii at Manoa, BA Biology and BA Spanish











Alana Taniguchi

Research / Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine












Monika Young, MS2

Research / Medical Student

University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine

Undergraduate & Major: USC, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention













Catherine Blake

Research Staff





Shelby Farmer

Research Student

Purdue University, Neurobiology and Physiology

Aspirations: Currently an Undergraduate student studying Pre-med. Goal is to attend Medical School and specialize in the field of Neuroscience.



Cody Kaneshiro

Research Student

University of Southern California, Junior

Undergraduate & Major: Psychology, English

Aspirations: Hoping to attend gradate school studying psychology, particularly in issues related to aging and neuropsychology



Sara Wong

Research Student








Drew Oyama

Research Internship

School: Pacific University, B.S. Chemistry

Interest: Clinical Neuroscience

Research Background: completed my senior capstone project evaluating the inhibition of (t)cinnamaldehyde analogs on CYP2A6

Aspiration: Physician in Geriatrics and Palliative Care

Hobbies: Frisbee, Spearfishing, Hiking, Basketball, & Talking Story



Emily Jane Taylor

Research Internship

Current school: University of Hawaii -- major Biological Engineering, specialization in Neuroscience (MS)

Interest: Neuroscience, Neuropathology, Pharmaceutical Development

Research Background: Currently working in research regarding potential pharmaceutical applications of peptide-toxins isolated from marine cone snails.

Aspiration: To attend medical school specializing in neurology.

Hobby: Playing violin, reading, painting, travel, swimming, hiking, anything outside

Brandee M. Goo

Research Internship

Current school: University of Hawaii, Program Cell and Molecular Biology

Interest: Molecular Neuroscience

Research Background: Biophysical study of learning and memory

Aspiration: Studying to attend an MD program

Hobby: Cooking











Jason Lau

Research project on the "Investigation of Novel B Cell Immunotherapy in Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis."

School: Boston University, Class of 2018

Major: Human Physiology

Aspirations: To attend medical school and become a physician specializing in neurology or cardiology

Hobby: Billiards, Hiking, and Travel






Pascha Hokama

Current School: Swarthmore College, Neuroscience Major

Interest: Neurodegenerative disorders, memory performance, and schizophrenia Previous research background: In high school, I conducted research on the behaviors of reef sharks. At my college I work in the biology cell department and the ERP lab.

Aspiration: I aspire to finish my undergraduate major in neuroscience and attend graduate school.

Hobby: Snorkeling, marine conservation, and traveling







Heather Dawn Acidera

Research Internship

Current School: University of California, Los Angeles; Neuroscience B.S. Interest: Neuroscience, Geriatric Neurology, Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia.

Research Background: UCLA Neurosurgery, Brain Injury Research Center. Research focused on identifying and quantifying specific metabolites located within the blood of patients who have undergone traumatic brain injury.

Aspiration: To attend medical school and specialize in geriatric neurology.

Hobby: Going to the beach, hiking, fishing, playing the guitar and piano.






Andrew Ancheta

Research Internship

Senior at Maryknoll High School

Project: Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures: Use of Video EEG as a Therapeutic Tool

Aspires to be a pediatrician, but am open minded to other medical professions.

Enjoys spending time with family, playing video games, volunteering at the church, and working out at the gym.












Kalei Sadarananda

Research Internship

Current school: St. Olaf College, Chemistry and biomedical studies

Interest: Clinical neuroscience, particularly application of biopsychosocial-contextual methods for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research background: Completed two years of basic science research in organometallic catalysis with Professor Dipannita Kalyani at St. Olaf College. Interrogated reaction mechanisms and expanded synthetic scope for transformations of biaryls, which serve as scaffolds for pharmaceuticals such as the anti-hypertensives Valsartan and Telmisartan. I am excited to expand my research experience to the clinical setting.

Aspiration: To learn as a clinical research assistant Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience, while working toward a career in the health professions at the intersection of medicine, teaching, and research in order to provide sustainable optimal health to the native Hawaiian community.

Hobbies: Traveling (especially Central and South America), hiking, HIIT, Zumba, musical theatre, meditation, youth ministry retreat and scripture study, beading, reading medieval romantic literature.