Principal Investigator

Nicole Hynson

[CV] [Google Scholar]
email: nhynson [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I received my Ph.D in 2010 from the University of California Berkeley where I worked in the Bruns Lab. After which I was a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Kathleen Treseder at the University of California Irvine.

I study the ecology of plant and fungal communities. I employ a multifaceted approach to my research by using tools from molecular biology and physiology in a range of settings from microcosms to field sites across continents. I am enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring and have a passion for the natural world, especially fungi.

I am originally from Maui, but mostly grew up on the continent. My family has a long history on the Islands and I consider Hawaii home. Some activities that I enjoy are hiking, mushroom hunting, and cooking. 



Current Lab Members

Staff & Postdocs


Sean Swift
email: swifts [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a research technician in the Hynson lab working with mycorrhizal communities of intact, disturbed, and restored habitats in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. I completed my M.S. in Biological Sciences in Dr. Brian Perry’s lab at California State University, East Bay. As a graduate student, I worked on foliar endophytic fungi of native Hawaiian dicots with a particular focus on the plant genus Scaevola. Born and raised on Maui, I am grateful to be back doing research in the islands. 


Laura Tipton
email: ltipton [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a Postdoc in the Hynson lab, studying the aerobiota found at the remote Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii. I completed my PhD in Computational Biology in the laboratory of Dr. Elodie Ghedin in the Carnegie Mellon-University of Pittsburgh PhD Program in Computational Biology. During my PhD, I looked at the microbiome of the human lungs, including both bacteria and fungi. The fungi being less well studied than the bacteria piqued my curiosity and brought me to the Hynson lab. Away from the computer you can find me baking, dancing, SCUBA-ing, or stand-up paddleboarding. 


Cameron Egan
email: cpegan [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a new Postdoc in the Hynson lab, and will examining the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and ericoid mycorrhizal (ErM) fungi in aiding the restoration of native tropical forests in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on the Big Island of Hawai’i. I am interested in all things related the ecology and evolution of AM fungi. I received my PhD in Biology from the University of British Columbia – Okanagan where I studied under Dr. John Klironomos. During my PhD I examined different factors that influence the structure of naturally occurring AM fungal communities including their dispersal, the relative role of host selection vs habitat selection, and fungal-fungal interactions. I am excited to be joining the Hynson lab, and for the opportunity to study mycorrhizal fungi in a notoriously understudied system. 


Graduate Students

Jerry Koko, Hynson Lab

Jerry Koko
email: jerryk [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a PhD student in the Department of Botany. My research involves the mycorrhizal fungi associated with native Hawaiian plants. The goal of my research is to learn more about the identities and distributions of these fungi to better our understanding of Hawaiian ecology. It is my hope that this research would lead to helping the restoration of native ecosystems.

 Undergraduate Students

Tanja Lantz Hirvonen
email: tanjalh [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am international undergraduate student from Sweden in the Biology program. My biggest passion is biology as a whole, since I have a hard time picking only one area. Therefore, I have yet to discover where my focus will lay in the future. My goal is to pursue a Master’s degree, and eventually a PhD. I’ve always been curious about the “invisible” and generally unknown sides to nature, so learning about fungi and mycorrhizae is very exciting.


Terrance (Terry) McDermott
email: tmcdermo [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am currently an undergraduate in the Botany program. I hope to continue my education at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and pursue a Master’s degree in Ethnobotany. My primary interest is in the traditional uses medicinal plants and organisms, in various cultures around the world. I previously earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Theology from Notre Dame College and spent ten years as a soldier in the United States Army.


Kacie Kajihara
email: kaciekaj [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am an undergraduate student in the Molecular Cell Biology program.  I am excited to learn about the workings of research and explore the diverse applications of fungi.  Aside from science, I am involved in music as an oboe player in the University band.  I hope to study medicine and one day practice here in Hawaii.

 Lab Alumni
Graduate Students
Erin Datlof (MSc Recipient 2017)
Sherilyn Munroe
James Downey
Leo Louis
Emily Grave 
Avalon Coley
Rachel Goldberg
Chaewon Im
Suzanna Leiu
Josh Serrano
High schoolers
Anna Landler

Interested in joining the lab? Click the button to find out more.