Sandra Noser & Josef Hunkeler 

University of Hawaii at Manoa
Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences
Kauai Agricultural Research Center
7370 Kuamoo Rd., Kapaa, HI 96746 Tel: 559-646-6520
Fax: 559-646-6593


Research Interests

We are graduate students in environmental sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland.

For our masters' thesis, we are doing research on the Erythrina Gall Wasp (Quadrastichus erythrinae), which was first described in 2004 as a newly invasive pest to Mauritius, La Reunion and Singapore. Since then it has spread rapidly across the globe, threatening many Erythrina species. In 2005 the Erythrina Gall Wasp reached the Hawaiian Islands where it has caused severe damage to many Erythrina trees and is threatening the Hawaiian endemic Wiliwili tree (Erythrina sandwicensis). Our goal is to help pinpoint the origin of this invasive wasp by analyzing different Erythrina species in the field and under laboratory conditions.

As environmental scientists to be, we approach the Erythrina Gall Wasp invasion as an environmental problem. Although our educational background is more in system analysis than in entomology, we enjoy the entomological research work under Dr. Messing’s guidance, as we are always welcome to bring in our own ideas and are able to integrate our knowledge with other members of the research team

As a couple and a team we have worked well together on several projects and complement one another in our research. We both share an interest for the complex relationships in nature and are therefore also highly interested in biological pest control and invasive species management, both fields where a lot of complex interactions take place.

Sandra: My special interests are botany, ethnobotany and plant response mechanisms. I especially like to identify speciemens in the field, to collect seeds or samples and to grow plants. I am always curious to find out if things are edible, which sometimes provides me with mind-blowing experiences. My job is also to proofread the things we write.

Josef: I’m especially interested in work with Geographical Information Systems and therefore take care of the GIS work, mapping and illustration of field data. Furthermore I am the photographer and head of our team’s statistic department. During our field trips, I normally do my best to get lost.