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Helping Future Astronomers Reach for the Stars

by Imiloa Astronomy Center on July 18th, 2018

Paul Coleman Photo

Helping Future Astronomers Reach for the Stars

Paul H.I. Coleman Endowed Scholarship for Astronomy Established

Roberta and Newton Chu have donated $35,000 to establish an endowed scholarship to honor Dr. Paul H. I. Coleman for his contributions to the astronomy field. Coleman, the first Native Hawaiian with a doctorate in physics, spent 16 years with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA), where he was instrumental in its education and outreach efforts. Newton Chu said, “Roberta and I are honored to establish this endowed scholarship in the name of an inspirational Hawaiian astrophysicist, Dr. Paul H.I. Coleman. Paul served as a role model for many young people, including our son, who have chosen the path of studying the heavens to seek answers to some of humankind’s most complicated questions.” Chu continued, “Unfortunately, Paul was taken from us too soon. It is our hope that this scholarship will help spawn more explorers like Paul. May this scholarship assist students at both UH Mānoa and UH Hilo study astronomy and navigate the heavens to find the answers that we seek.”

“The quest for knowledge is humankind’s noblest endeavor, and we hope that this scholarship will serve to enable Hawai‘i’s children to continue this quest for generations to come,” added Roberta Chu. “Mahalo to D. Dianne Bowen-Coleman and daughters Catherine Hali`amemaheaikekai Bowen Coleman and Elizabeth Noheahinali`imauliola Bowen Coleman for allowing us to dedicate this scholarship in his honor.”

The son of William and Pearl Coleman, Paul H. I. Coleman graduated from St. Louis School, earned his BS in Physics at the University of Notre Dame and his PhD in Physics at the University of Pittsburgh. He spent nearly a decade in the Netherlands, where he worked on describing the large scale structure of the universe using the mathematical language of fractals, as well as on software projects for radio astronomy. He returned to the United States to teach at New Mexico Tech, Yale University, and the University of Puerto Rico. In 2002 he returned home to Hawai`i and joined the IfA team.

Dedicated to sharing the importance of astronomy to Hawai‘i, Coleman was a strong advocate for increasing Hawaiian participation in the sciences and worked tirelessly to bridge the astronomy and Hawaiian communities. For nearly a decade he led the IfA National Science Foundation funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates. This highly competitive program brings a dozen undergraduates from around the country to conduct research with IfA astronomers during the summer. Coleman’s friends remember him as a supportive mentor to many, and as a special man who was proud to carry on the legacy of Hawaiians who studied the stars.

Some of his roles at ʻImiloa included:
• content advisory to ʻImiloa exhibits/programs
• co-creator of new Hawaiian lexicon to support our fully bilingual exhibits
• providing expertise in programs and outreach for ʻImiloa
• mentor to undergraduate and graduate students through ʻImiloa partnerships
• advocate for hawaiian/local student participation in STEM, and in particular, in astronomy
• advocate for indigenous and scientific collaborations local, national, and international
• co-presenter with ʻImiloa Navigator-in-Residence, Kālepa Baybayan.  Paul Coleman was a “astronomer-in-residence” to ʻImiloa
If you would like to make a gift in Dr. Coleman’s memory, please visit or contact Carla Kuo, Associate Director of Development – Hawai‘i Island at (808) 932-7696 or

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