University of Hawaii

Malahoff joins New
Zealand researchers

The UH ocean scientist will take a
sabbatical to boost cooperation

By Helen Altonn

Alex Malahoff, director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, has taken sabbatical leave from the University of Hawaii to be chief executive for the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd. in Wellington, New Zealand.

His main mission, he said recently, "is to strengthen links between New Zealand, the University of Hawaii and Victoria University in Wellington."

The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, a government-owned earth and planetary sciences research company, and Victoria University already have agreements with the UH, Malahoff said.

"New Zealand has the biggest geothermal area in the world, the last frontier for exploring the deep ocean in terms of submarine volcanoes," he noted. "It's one of the biggest submarine hydrothermal systems in the world."

He said he will put a plan together for explorations of the system in two years by the cooperating institutions, using HURL's capabilities.

Malahoff has been the driving force behind the submersible research program, acquiring two submersibles and a mother ship for deepwater investigations and collection of microorganisms.

He said he will return here once a month. HURL associate director John Wiltshire will run day-to-day operations.

The program is "in very good shape," he said. "I think we're all set for funding for the next two years," with basic explorations planned in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Malahoff said he will continue research on microorganisms found in extreme environments that hold promise for components for drugs, sunscreens, food supplements and other products.

But his job in New Zealand is "to provide opportunities for partnerships" between the research institutions, universities and industries, he said.

Establishing more cooperation between UH and Pacific universities will be a mission of Peter Englert, who becomes UH-Manoa campus chancellor on Aug. 1, Malahoff noted.

Englert formerly worked at Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences and now is pro vice chancellor and dean of science, architecture and design at Victoria University.

Malahoff left for New Zealand July 1 with plans to return in a few weeks with Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences executives to look into potential partnerships.

"We want to see where they're going with the present MarBEC (Marine Bioproducts Engineering Center) and what other cooperative research opportunities there are."

He formerly directed MarBEC and the UH Ocean and Resources Engineering Department. He is president of the UH Professional Assembly with a term ending in September.

Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology

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