Molecular scientist joins the Oceanic Institute of Hawai‘i Pacific University

September 22, 2014

Brett Olds, Ph.D.
Brett Olds, Ph.D.

HONOLULU — Oceanic Institute of Hawai‘i Pacific University (OI-HPU) has welcomed a molecular biologist with extensive expertise in molecular genetics and aquatic ecology, to expand its mission of sustainable food production and marine conservation.

Brett Olds, Ph.D., will focus on invertebrate health and development, and investigate the microbial community associated with marine fish culture. In collaboration with other OI-HPU researchers, Olds will use molecular-based tools to improve Pacific White shrimp in OI-HPU’s selective breeding program.

“Dr. Olds brings to OI-HPU expertise in the fields of molecular genetics and bioinformatics, which will allow us to ask a variety of new research questions to advance our mission in the sustainable use of ocean resources,” said OI-HPU Executive Director Shaun Moss, Ph.D.

“This will enhance our current research programs in aquatic food production and marine conservation and open up new areas of research with HPU faculty and students, as well as local, regional, and international collaborators from other research institutions,” Moss said.

Olds earned a doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Illinois. His research centered on the use of genomic tools to explore evolutionary questions in bacteria, insects and plants. Olds' graduate work at the University of Nebraska focused on aquatic ecology. He also worked in the computer industry and owned a consulting business in Denver.

Prior to OI-HPU, Olds combined his passion for aquatic ecosystems and genomic and computer skills in the detection and monitoring of endangered and invasive species through the use of environmental DNA filtered from water samples at the Environmental Change Initiative at the University of Notre Dame.

“Joining OI-HPU affords me a chance to make a real impact on local marine resources and interface with both local, national and international collaborators,” Olds said. “With the association of HPU, I have a chance to share my knowledge with graduate students in a brand new, state of the art molecular laboratory.”

OI-HPU has an international reputation for its work in aquaculture, especially shrimp breeding and fish culture. The institute is also developing a reputation for its work in food security and feed development, including the construction of a Feeds Research and Pilot Production Facility in Hilo, which will contribute to the production of terrestrial and aquatic animal feeds using locally available ingredients.