Graduate Assistant, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (Marine Biology Dept.)
Nākoa was born and raised in Puna, Hawai‘i where he developed an interest in the cultural heritage and natural resources found there. His interest in the marine environment started with a passion for fishing that was enriched by participating in education programs with Nā Pua No‘eau which provided him with a foundation in Hawaiian culture and epistemology. While attending UH Hilo he gained field and lab research experience as an intern in the Keaholoa Scholars Program. During this time he studied coral reefs throughout the pae ‘āina as a scientific diver. He also formed relationships with resource managers, scientists, community leaders and cultural practitioners. These influential people helped him to integrate science and culture into research to support marine resource management efforts in Hawai‘i. After earning a bachelors’ degree in Marine Science at UH Hilo in 2010, he served as program coordinator at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo (2011-2016) and later as a marine fellow with The Nature Conservancy (2016-2018). Nākoa is currently pursuing a doctorate degree at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Marine Biology. His research focuses on understanding the population patterns and diet of native bait fish species found in estuaries of Hawai‘i to support their conservation and management. He continues to support education programs with youth and emerging professionals to support their growth and lead them towards success in life.