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Kaneshiro Named Distinguished Research Professor

It’s a long way from Hawaii to Cincinnati and from a high school teaching position to being named Distinguished Research Professor at a major university.

Date: 6/20/2005
By: Billie Dziech
Phone: 513 / 556.1707
It’s a long way from Hawaii to Cincinnati and from a high school teaching position to being named Distinguished Research Professor at a major university. But Edna Kaneshiro, professor of biology, has successfully traveled both roads.

Appointed Distinguished Research Professor by the Board of Trustees on May 24, Kaneshiro began her education at the University of Hawaii Hilo. She left to enroll at Syracuse University, where she earned a BS and MS in science education. She also taught science in a local high school and worked in a research lab in Syracuse’s department of zoology

Encouraged by her professors to specialize and work on a doctorate, she eventually earned a PhD in zoology. She recalls, “After two years of being a classroom teacher, I realized that I preferred having the stimulation of being around people who knew more than I did and that specialization means depth and not narrow.” To acquire further “stimulation,” she did two post-doctorals – one at the University of Chicago in cell biology and a second at Bryn Mawr College in biochemistry.

Kaneshiro admits she was “not overly enthusiastic” when invited to interview for a job at UC. Appreciative of Hawaii’s mountains, she assumed Cincinnati would be flat like Chicago. She says, “I arrived after dark for my job interview, and while driving I-75 from the airport, I asked my host what those lights were above the horizons. He looked at me as if I were a dope and replied they were from houses up on the hills. Hills! It was love at first sight.”

“Love at first sight” is a term that applies even more to Kaneshiro’s enthusiasm for science. Her current research focuses on microbes called “eukaryotic protists.” Most of her projects so far have dealt with understanding the biochemistry, physiology, and general biology of a few members of this enormous group of organisms. She hopes that ultimately her findings will lead to better understand the nature of microbes such as the one causing AIDS-related pneumonia.

Kaneshiro’s recognition also came about because of her service to several professional societies. She has worked with organizations like UC’s chapter of Sigma Xi, the Society of Protozoologists, the American Society for Microbiology, and the American Society for Cell Biology. In addition, she was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology for ten years and has served on editorial boards of professional journals, reviewed grant proposals, and organized professional meetings.

In retrospect, Edna Kaneshiro notes that she has come “pretty far” from the classroom in Syracuse: “I’m deeply honored by this award and appreciate the support of colleagues here and elsewhere who volunteered their time and effort on my behalf.”

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