Principal Investigator


Nicole Hynson

Associate Professor

[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 and C-MAIKI. 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. 


Kirsten Cannoles
email: kkc25 [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a research technician in the Amend and Hynson labs working on the C-MAIKI project looking at the microbiome of the Waimea watershed. I received my B.A. in Biology from the University of Hawai’i Hilo. I first began working in a molecular lab during my undergraduate studies at USDA ARS PBARC before moving on to infectious disease research at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. I was born and raised in Hilo, but I am excited to here on Oahu and consider the islands to be my forever home. I am very thankful to be working on such a unique and exciting project with support from a variety of experienced researchers.


Christopher Wall 
email: cbwall [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Hynson Lab working on the Keck Foundation Microbiome Initiative. My research seeks to better understand the role of plant-associated microbes in the function and performance of host plants using high-throughput sequencing, physiological ecology, and stable isotope biogeochemistry. A common thread in my research has been the study of physiological outcomes for symbioses in response to environmental stressors. As an undergraduate at the University of North Texas (BSc, 2008), I studied flooding stress on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and wetland plants. During graduate school at California State University Northridge (MSc, 2012) and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (PhD, 2019) my research focused on the impacts of climate change (ocean warming, acidification, coral bleaching recovery) on the nutrition and bioenergetics of reef corals and their endosymbionts (Symbiodiniaceae). In my very amphibious journey through terrestrial and marine symbioses, I’m excited to once again return to plants and look forward to studying environmental and microbial-mediated effects on host performance in the Hynson Lab.


Graduate Students


Leah Thompson
email: leahpmt [at] hawaii [dot] edu

I am a Master student in the Botany department. My research focuses on ectomycorrhizal fungal dispersal. The goal of my research is to understand how ectomycorrhizal fungi are aiding in non-native pine invasions on Maui. I’m originally from Oregon and also earned my B.S. at the University of Oregon. I love all things botany and mycology, so I’m excited to learn more about plant and fungal interactions in the Hynson lab. Outside of school I enjoy hiking, drinking tea, and playing music.

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

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

I am an undergraduate in the Microbiology program, 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 the lab I enjoy brunch, coffee shops, and dancing hula.


Megan Ishii
email: megnoelani15 [at] gmail [dot] com

I am a recent college graduate looking to spend my gap year expanding my knowledge of botany. Born and raised on Oahu, I’ve spent most of my life in Manoa and the Windward side. Although my ultimate goal is to pursue a career in medicine, I am drawn to the Hynson lab through my love of hiking and native plant preservation.


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
Laura Tipton
Cameron Egan
Graduate Students
Erin Datlof (MSc Recipient 2017)
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.