Mehana Blaich Vaughan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at the University of Hawai?i at Manoa and U.H. Sea Grant. Mehana studies interactions between people and the environment, particularly how people use, care for, and make decisions about natural resources at the local level. She works with a consortium of scholars dedicated to helping Hawai?i communities develop inter-disciplinary solutions to natural and cultural resource management, food security and sustainability issues. Her specific research interests include collaborative resource governance, participatory research methods, contemporary management based on indigenous systems, watershed ecology, and place-based education.
Mehana grew up in the rural Halele?a district of the island of Kaua?i, Hawai?i. She has taught middle and high school, developing place-based cultural education programs for over a decade. Supported by the Switzer Foundation, Mehana’s dissertation research at Stanford University focused on collaborative management of a coastal fishery on her home island, by government agencies and community members. This research included work with Native Hawaiian fishermen to understand community level benefits created though sharing of subsistence harvests. She is grateful to her collaborators, ‘ohana (family) and the many friends, teachers, students, kupuna (elders) and Hawai?i communities that have supported, guided and informed her work.