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In 2008, American Samoa partnered with the Pacific STEP-UP Program. Accepted students will complete their internships at American Samoa Community College or another local agency together with a research mentor to complete a research project. Interns will participate in a local research symposium held in Pago Pago, AS in early August, which first began in 2009 and has been held every year since its inception. Two students are then chosen to attend the National High School STEP-UP Scientific Research Symposium in Washington, DC where they will present their summer research projects to both peers and professionals from academia and the research industry. Additionally, a participation allowance is given to all participants upon successful completion of the program.




Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta
American Samoa Community College

Aufa’i is currently the Director of the Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources Division (ACNR) at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) and served as the Lead Site Co-Principal Investigator of the Children’s Healthy Living Program at ASCC from 2013-2015. Prior to the aforementioned positions, Aufa’i served as the ASCC-ACNR Associate Director (2010-2015) and worked in Extension in various capacities for more than 25 years. Aufa’i received his Master of Agriculture degree in Agriculture Extension Education from Colorado State University in 2004. His Master’s Thesis work focused on The Attitudes of American Samoa’s Farmers toward the Logic Model. Aufa’i also graduated from the University of California at Davis (UCD) with a BS in Agricultural Sciences and Management in 1984. Aufa’i was the recipient of the USDA-CSREES Fellows Program (1998), ESCOP/ACOP Leadership Development Program – Class (1999), the Pacific American Foundation Leadership and Management Institute (2000), and the USDA Class IV of the Western Extension Leadership Development Program, 2007-2008). Mr. Areta is the holder of high orator chief titles “Aufa’i” and “Apulu” in accordance with the Samoan culture.



Dr. Mark Schmaedick
American Samoa Community College

Dr.  Schmaedick grew up in Eugene, Oregon and completed his BS and BA degrees in Biology at Oregon State University. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand for four years, he went on to complete his MS and PhD degrees in entomology at Cornell University in New York State. For the past 12 years, Mark has served as entomologist in the American Samoa Community College’s Division of Community and Natural Resources. He is responsible for research and extension activities in applied entomology, including integrated pest management, pest diagnostics, medical entomology, biological control, and pest surveillance and early detection.


Dr. Joserose Jyothibhavan
Department of Education, American Samoa

Dr.  Jyothibhavan is a Science Specialist for the American Samoa Department of Education. He has been teaching at different public high schools in American Samoa for 16 years. He received his PhD in Entomology from Bhopal University, India and did his post-doctoral studies at Baharas Hindu University, one of Asia’s biggest residential universities with a National Fellowship to study Insecticide Resistance Management of Agricultural Pests. He also worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Kerala, India. He was the Territorial Teacher of the Year in 2007 and loves mentoring students and teaching science. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the American Samoa Community College.


Magdalene Augafa
Department of Education, American Samoa

Ms. Augafa earned her MA degree in Educational Leadership with a concentration on Public Administration and Human Resources from San Diego State University. She worked for the American Samoa Department of Education for 18 years as a Math/Science teacher and now works for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment serving teachers.


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