Islands Hub photo collage

Meet the Islands Hub

Dr. Kiriko Takahashi is the Interim Director of Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). She holds a Ph.D. in Education in Exceptionalities from UHM with emphasis on Assistive Technology, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and STEM. She has over 20 years of experience working with children, youth and adults with diverse abilities and cultural backgrounds. At CDS, she has led a number of STEM related research and demonstration projects to improve the STEM outcomes of underrepresented groups. She was the project coordinator and research facilitator for the NSF Pacific Alliance and Pathways to STEM projects to support students with disabilities transition through the critical junctures to obtain STEM degree and ultimately transition into STEM careers. Currently, she is also the Director of Pacific Basin University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and provides technical assistance to activities to improve the outcomes of people with disabilities in American Samoa and the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands.

portrait of Takahashi Kiriko
University of Hawa'i Manoa

University of Hawai’i – Manoa


  • Dr. Kiriko Takahashi, Interim Director and Associate Specialist, Center on Disability Studies; Islands Hub Lead, chair of the Hub Working Committee, and co-lead of the Hub research study.
  • Dr. Robert A. Stodden, Founding Director & Emerita Professor (tenured), Center on Disability Studies, internal evaluator and advisor; Co-lead of the Hub research study.
  • Dr. Mahdi Belcaid, Assistant Professor, with a joint appointment in the Information and Computer Sciences Department and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology; STEM Faculty Mentor.
  • Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Lenz, Assistant Director for Diversity & Community Engagement
  • Dr. Maya Matheis, Associate Director for Center on Disability Studies, Junior Specialist/Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  • Megan Theobald, Graduate Assistant for Center on Disability Studies
Kapi'olani Community College

University of Hawai’i – Kapi’olani Community College

  • Li-Anne Dela Vaga, Undergraduate Research Experiences Coordinator, Campus Lead
  • Herve Collin, Interim STEM Director/S-STEM Grant Co-Investigator, STEM Faculty Mentor
Northern Marianas college

Northern Marianas College

  • Geraldine Rodgers, Assessment Specialist, Office of Institutional Effectiveness; Campus Lead and STEM Faculty Mentor
  • Eileen Babauta, Program Director for the NMC University Center in Excellence on Developmental Disabilities; co-PI of Sub-award
University of Hawaii-West O'ahu logo

NEW! University of Hawai’i – West O’ahu

  • Christina Pascua-Galdiano, Campus Lead

The Islands Hub research will focus on the unique issues faced by Indigenous and Pacific Island students with disabilities. In particular, the research will determine socio, cultural, personal, and historical factors that facilitate or impede students’ interests and their identity development in STEM during the transition into or while in postsecondary education. The research will take a closer look at culturally diverse students with disabilities, researching how historical and cultural variables associated with collectivist and self-reliant approaches to education and employment impact upon participation, retention, and employment in STEM fields through a comparative study of Japanese American students in Hawaii and Japanese students in Japan.

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