Principal Investigator


Nicole Hynson


[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 Hawaiʻi home. Some activities that I enjoy are hiking, mushroom hunting, and cooking. 


Lab Manager & Postdocs

Image from iOS

Danyel Yogi

Lab Manager
email: danyelk [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Hello! I’m Danyel, I’m born and raised on the windward side of O‘ahu and I’m the lab manager for both the Hynson and Amend lab. I started working as an undergraduate assistant in the lab way back in 2018, since then I’ve received my B.S in Microbiology and become the lab manager. I have assisted with a wide range of projects studying plant-fungal interactions here in the Hynson lab and completed an NSF REU under Dr. Teresa Pawlowska studying the bacterial endosymbionts of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi at Cornell University.

While fungi have a very special place in my heart, environmental microbiology as a whole is where my passion lies. My goal is to dedicate my career towards learning all I can about microbes and how they interact with the environment around them in order to aid conservation efforts here in Hawai‘i. Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time with my family, volunteering at lo‘i and fishponds, and going to coffee shops.

Image from iOS

Dr. Nicola Kriefall

email: nicolagk [at] hawaii [dot] edu 

Twitter link:
Google scholar link:

I earned my PhD from the Davies Lab at Boston University, where I investigated how microorganisms within coral hosts are structured by reef environments, through lab-based tank experiments in Boston and field sampling in the Florida Keys. Now, I’m dipping my toe into terrestrial study systems under the guidance of Drs. Hynson and Medeiros. Specifically, I’ll be exploring aquatic pools hosted by bromeliad plants to better understand the roles of microorganisms in food webs. Having spent most of my life in the state and city of New York, and then Boston, I am learning how to spend time in consistent sun and warmth on the island of O’ahu. It was a hobby of mine to try to keep tropical houseplants alive in Boston, which seems easier here so I’ll have to find new hobbies. Snorkeling and beach reading are the top contenders.


Graduate Students


Kacie Kajihara

MSc Student
email: kaciekaj [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am pursuing a Master’s degree in the Department of Botany and recently earned my Bachelor’s in Molecular Biosciences & Biotechnology at UH Mānoa. As an undergraduate, I worked as a research assistant in the Hynson Lab for all four years and did my capstone research on the differences in mycorrhizal fungal communities between native Hawaiian forests and reforested pastures. I am interested in using computational methods to study the ecology of microbiomes with the hope that this research can aid the preservation and restoration of native ecosystems. Born and raised in Kaimuki, I am excited to contribute to our understanding of the natural world and the interactions that sustain it. Outside of science I enjoy cooking, Korean dramas, and learning to play the guitar.



Allie Hall

PhD Student
email: alliej [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Aloha! Allie here, and I meet fungi in the wilderness. I consider myself nomadic by nature and have called many places on this beautiful planet home. In 2019, I received my B.S. from the University of Colorado in Biology, emphasis in Biochemistry. I worked under Dr. Meghan Lybecker as an undergrad and post-bacc researcher investigating mechanisms of sRNA and RNA-chaperone regulations in bacterial pathogens. Later, I was awarded an ORISE Fellowship to continue research at the CDC. I joined Dr. Hynson’s Lab Fall of 2022 to pursue my PhD in Botany focusing in fungal, microbial, and molecular ecology. Research interests include plant and fungi microbiomes, distance-decay relationships of microbiomes, fungi-plant co-invasions, fungal symbiosis, and evolution of microbes influenced by major disturbances. Outside of academia you could say I’m an amateur poet, backcountry backpacker, free-diver, surfer, and rock climber.





Mike Opgenorth

PhD Student
email: mopgenorth [at] ntbg [dot] org

I am pursuing my PhD at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark under the co-supervision of Dr. Nina Ronsted and Dr. Hynson. My previous education includes undergraduate degrees at the University of Hawaiʻi in Business and Tropical Plant Soil Sciences. Currently, my work in the Hynson Lab focuses on the use of local mycorrhizal fungi from extant subpopulations of Critically Endangered Hawaiian Gardenia spp. to investigate its effect on plant fitness. My research interests include topics that inform how to conserve biocultural resources such as Native Hawaiian and Polynesian-introduced plants.  I also concurrently serve as the Director of Kahanu Garden and Preserve of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.  Originally from Fallbrook California, I moved to Hawaiʻi in 2007 and have been fortunate to spend that time on Oʻahu and Maui.  I am a passionate surfer, horticulturalist, and hiker.



Undergraduate Students


Raul Ruiz

Undergraduate Researcher
email: raulruiz [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I was born & raised on the ‘ninth island’ of Las Vegas, Nevada but I’ve called Hawai‘i home for the past four years. I am an undergraduate student with a Botany and Psychology major. I’m interested in the intersections between plants and humans. I appreciate gaining different experiences in order to further my academic endeavors and lead a fulfilling life. Outside of school, I enjoy beachcombing for shells, hiking, and shopping!


Cadie Young

Undergraduate Researcher and Honors Student
email: cadiey [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am an undergraduate pursuing a major in biology and a minor in Japanese. I was born and raised in Mililani, O’ahu and have always been interested in the medical field. I have previously conducted research on the antihelmintic effects of noni (Morinda citrifolia) on planarians to provide an effective and affordable treatment for people in poverty suffering parasitic infections and have done health related internships at Castle Adventist Health Hospital. In my free time, I enjoy traveling the world and hanging out with my friends and family.

 photo mm


Mallory Maloney

Undergraduate Researcher [my CV]
email: mm300[at] hawaii [dot] edu

Aloha! I am an undergraduate majoring in Marine Biology and minoring in Japanese and Music. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, and moved to O’ahu four years ago. I’m interested in marine mammal conservation and ecology but love learning from others to expand my knowledge. I studied in Japan in the summer of 2022 and hope to return to facilitate language exchange in the science field. When I have time I like to paddleboard, go to the beach, teach percussion music lessons, and perform.


Renee Stott

GES Undergraduate Researcher
email: rstott [at] hawaii [dot] edu

Hello! I am an undergraduate student in Global Environmental Science. I am interested in all aspects of science and the environment, but I would love to learn a lot more about terrestrial ecology. I am excited to be a part of this lab to expand my knowledge and skill sets that I could potentially use in a career of research. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois. And, while I do miss fall, I quite enjoy not having to endure below-zero temperatures here in Hawai‘i. In my spare time, I like to paint, go to the beach, and would love to get more into hiking here!

Former Postdocs
Dr. Christopher Wall
Dr. Cameron Egan
Dr. Laura Tipton
Dr. John Darcy
Dr. Leena Vilonen
Former Graduate Students
Francisca Rodriguez
Thomas Chapin
Leah Thompson
Jerry Koko
Erin Datlof 
Former Undergraduate Students
James Pulido
Zach Gibson
Jacob White
Danyel Yogi
Kacie Kajihara
Mistiha Jayaraj
Terrance McDermott
Megan Ishii
Tanja Lantz Hirvonen
Sherilyn Munroe
James Downey
Leo Louis
Emily Grave
Chaewon Im
Jeffery Burkhardt
Avalon Coley
Suzanna Leiu
Rachel Goldberg
Joshua Serrano



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