Principal Investigator


Nicole Hynson

Associate Professor

[Click for my 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 


Danyel Yogi
email: danyelk [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I graduated from the Microbiology program at UH Manoa in Spring 2021. During my undergraduate career I was a research assistant in the Hynson lab for over three years before becoming the lab manager. I also spent a summer as an NSF REU student in Teresa Pawlowska’s lab studying arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Born and raised in Kailua my passion lies in protecting and restoring native Hawaiian ecosystems from mauka to makai by studying what cannot be seen at first glance. My goal is to become an environmental microbiologist to fulfill my passion every day. Outside of science I enjoy cooking, getting coffee, and hanging out with my dog.


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

I graduated from theMolecular Biosciences & Biotechnology program at UH Manoa in Spring 2021.  During my undergraduate career I was research assistant and did independent research in the Hynson lab over the course of four years. Now I am the Web Master for C-MAIKI and still volunteer to do research. I am interested in pursuing a MSc using computational biology methods to understand the world of fungi. Outside of science, I enjoy cooking, Korean dramas, and learning to play the guitar.


Graduate Students


Francisca Rodriguez
email: frodri [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a Master’s student in the Botany Department. I received my B.S. from the University of Utah where I was an undergraduate researcher in the Dentinger and Longino Labs, which focus on fungal biodiversity and evolution and neotropical myrmecology, respectively. My research focuses on the microbiomes and food webs of tank bromeliads. The goal of my research is to understand microbial diversity and determine how environmental changes impact host microbiomes. This work is done in conjunction with the C-MAIKI project, an interdisciplinary study of the microbiome of the Waimea watershed. Within the Hynson lab I intend to gain a greater understanding of coevolution, mutualism, and fungal ecology. I love studying fungi and plants, and would almost always rather be outside foraging for mushrooms or reading a good book. I’m originally from New Mexico, and am grateful for the opportunity to conduct research on the islands.


Thomas Chapin
email: tchapin [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a Master’s student in the Botany Department of the School of Life Sciences. My research focuses on plant-fungal interactions, specifically the relationships between native, naturalized, and invasive orchids and their fungal symbionts. I am from Maryland, and received my B.S. in Environmental Science and Geography from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2019. I pursued similar research regarding orchid mycorrhizal fungi and endohyphal bacteria at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center leading up to graduate school. I love to cook, garden, and explore the jungle! Check out my Research Gate profile here.

 Undergraduate Students

Your Bio Here!

We are always open to mentoring new undergraduates in the lab. We have worked with a range of Majors from UH Manoa including Biology, Botany, Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology and Computer Science. Students have assisted with ongoing research either as 399 or 499 students or done their own research projects as Honors students or as recipients of UROP funding from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. We have also hosted summer interns from other institutions. For more information, contact Dr. Hynson.

 Lab Alumni
Sean Swift
Laura Tipton
Cameron Egan
Christopher Wall
Graduate Students
Leah Thompson (MSc Recipient 2021)
Jerry Koko (PhD Recipient 2020)
Erin Datlof (MSc Recipient 2017)
Terrance McDermott
Megan Isii
Mistiha Jayaraj
Tanja Lantz Hirvonen
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.