Meet the Islands Hub

This hub 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. 


portrait of Takahashi Kiriko

Kiriko Takahashi

Islands Hub Lead

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.

logo of university of hawaii
  •  Dr. Kiriko Takahashi, Interim Director and Associate Specialist, Center on Disability Studies, will serve as Hub Lead and CLI, and will chair the Hub Working Committee and co-lead the research study for the hub.
  • Dr. Robert A. Stodden, Founding Director & Emerita Professor (tenured), Center on Disability Studies, will serve as internal evaluator and advisor and will co-lead the research study for the hub.
  • Dr. Mahdi Belcaid, Assistant Professor, with a joint appointment in the Information and Computer Sciences Department and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, will serve as STEM faculty mentor.
Kapi'olani Community College logo

Kapi’olani Community College

  • Dr. Maria Bautista, Department Chair Mathematics/Sciences Department, will serve as STEM faculty mentor and CLI.
Northern Marianas college logo

Northern Marianas College

  • Dr. Laura Taylor, Associate Professor of Science, will serve as CLI and STEM faculty member