Catherine Unabia, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
HPU Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Telephone: 808-236-7921 FAX: 808-236-5880
Office Location: 248 Hawaii Loa Campus
Assistant Researcher (1999-2000) University of Hawaii Pacific Biomedical
Research Center Kewalo Marine Laboratory, Honolulu.
Postdoctoral Fellow (1996-1999), University of Hawaii Pacific Biomedical
Research Center Kewalo Marine Laboratory, Honolulu.
Ph.D. Zoology, Marine Invertebrate (1996). University of Hawaii, Manoa.
M.S. Botanical Sciences (1984) University of Hawaii, Manoa.
Unabia CRC. 2007. Grazing interaction between Smaragdia bryanae
(Gastropoda Neritidae) and the seargrass Halophila hawaiiana. Invertebrate Biology: In revision.
Unabia, CRC and Hadfield, MG. 1999. The role of bacteria in the settlement
and metamorphosis of the polychaete Hydroides elegans. Marine Biology
Unabia, CRC, Huang, S, and Hadfield, MG. 1999. Soluble and surface-
bound bacterial cues for settlement of the polychaete Hydroides elegans. Am. Zool. 38:163A.
Unabia, CRC, Hagadone, MR, Hadfield, MG, Gu, X-Q, Lau, L and Tius, MA.
1997. Bioactive marine isonitrile compounds from Hawaiian sponges as models for synthetic nontoxic antifoulant and antibiotic agents. Pp. 3.30-3.36, in, Proc. Office of Naval Research US-Pacific Rim Workshop on Emerging Nonmetallic Materials for the Marine Environment, Brady RF and Park Y eds.
Hadfield MG, Unabia, C, Smith, CM, Michael, TM. 1994. Settlement
preferences of the ubiquitous fouler Hydroides elegans. Pp. 65-74, in, Recent Developments in Biofouling Control, Fingerman M, Nagabushanam R and Sarojini R, eds., Oxford & IBH, New Delhi.
Unabia, CRC. 1992. Endemic Hawaiian species radiation in the Neritidae.
Pacific Science 46: 323.
Unabia, CRC. 1991. Taxonomic affinities of Neritidae from scanning electron
microscopy of radular structure. Pacific Science 45: 103.
Unabia, CRC. 1984. Smaragdia (Gastropoda: Neritidae), a seagrass
animal. Pacific Science 34: 340.
Gordon Research Conference on Marine Natural Products, Ventura, Ca.
1998, “Surface-Microbe-Invertebrate Interactions in Marine Biofouling”.
3rd International Larval Biology Meeting, 1998, Symposium on Chemical
Ecology, “Signals from biofilms: larval settlement cues for Hydroides elegans” (w/ Paul VJ and Hadfield MG)
Chair, College of Natural Sciences Curriculum Committee
(Spring ’07 – present); member since Fall ’04
Chair, General Education Curriculum Subcommittee of the Undergraduate
Curriculum Committee (Fall ’06 – present); member since Fall ’05
Laboratory Policy and Procedures Committee (Fall ’06 – present)
Board Member and Secretary, Reef Check Hawaii (Fall ’05 – present)
Courses Routinely Taught at HPU:
BIOL 4030 - 4031 Cell and Molecular Biology and Laboratory
BIOL 4040 - 4041 Environmental Microbiology and Laboratory
BIOL 3020 - 3021 Plant Biology and Laboratory
BIOL 2052 General Biology
BIOL 2170 Ethnobotany: Plants and People (Gen Ed)
NSCI 2100 Biotechnology: Problems and Solutions (Gen Ed)
BIOL 6170 Larval Biology
Grants, Contracts and Awards:
2005-2007 Advances in Biotechnology Education Workshop; Three week intensive summer workshop at University of Hawaii with stipends for participation and for student.
2004 Grant from HPU Trustee’s Scholarly Endeavors Program, Culture of the Marine Cyanobacteria Symploca Laeteviridis and Symploca hydnoides for bioprocess intensification of metabolite production. F. David Horgen, Principal Investigator, (Co-investigator with F. David Horgen, Kristina Mojica).
1995-1999 Department of Defense Center for Excellence in
Oceanographic Sciences, to Synthetic Technology Corp.
Bioactive marine isonitrile compounds from Hawaiian sponges as models for synthetic nontoxic antifoulant and antibiotic agents.
1991-1992. Endemic groundsnails in Hawaiian natural area reserves. Natural Area Reserves System, State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.
1990-1991 The mollusks of anchialine ponds. Natural Area Reserves System, State of Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources.
Description of Research Interests:
Larval Biology, Chemical Ecology, Seagrass Communities, Marine Microbiology and Biotechnology, Molluscan Evolution and Systematics.
Discovery of a seagrass species new to Hawaii led to the evaluation of this species as an invasive alien which might threaten the survival of our native Hawaiian seagrass ecosystem, including an endemic snail that feeds on the native seagrass. This presents research questions including whether the snail can feed, grow and reproduce on the new species, and if planktotropic veliger larvae settle on both species of seagrass.
I am also interested in how organisms interact with one another at the cell and molecular level, particularly cell-cell signaling and adhesion involving glycoprotein surface molecules and receptors. My research has focused on the role of bacterial biofilms as signals for the settlement and metamorphosis of algae and larvae of marine invertebrates. A practical application has been the development of antifouling strategies which prevent fouling by acting upon bacterial biofilms. Glycoprotein signaling may also be important in the development of consortia of co-aggregating microbial species, such as members of the nitrogen or sulfur cycles and other components of a diverse microbial community essential for healthy aquatic ecosystems. These concepts may prove useful in the development of sustainable, non-polluting aquaculture, bioremediation of coastal areas and wetlands using plants and associated microbes, or conservation of coral reefs and other endangered marine ecosystems. To further investigate microbial interactions by experimental manipulation, marine microbes are being isolated, characterized and cultured. Among microbes, cyanobacteria are especially interesting not only as primary producers, nitrogen fixers, and sources of bioactive natural products, but also because they build mats that structure shallow marine communities. Little is known about their interactions with other organisms. This diverse microbial collection is also available for natural products screening, and the culture of cyanobacteria as natural product sources and experimental models is underway.