Isabella Kauakea Yau Yung Aiona Abbott (1919- 2010) was an educator, ethnobotanist and originally from Hāna, Maui. She authored 8 books and over 150 publications and happened to be the first woman of Hawaiian ancestry to receive a Ph.D. in science, and became the leading expert in Pacific algae and the first woman on the biological sciences faculty at Stanford. Professor Abbot’s academic career was extraordinary. She was hired as a lecturer in biology and began teaching summer courses at Hopkins and publishing scientific papers. Finally, in 1972, her productiveness as a researcher and effectiveness as a teacher were so undeniable that she was hired as a full professor in biology at Stanford, bypassing the usual steps on the tenure-track ladder of first being an assistant, then associate, professor. Read about her impressive life and accomplishments in the obituary Stanford University published on her passing in 2010.
“I look upon it as a Western scientist’s viewpoint of the Hawai’ian way of doing things,” she said. “Why is this necessary? So that Hawai’ians are not put in second- or third-class status of Native people who don’t know anything. Hawai’ian culture is unbelievably sophisticated.”
Books by Professor Abbott (most recent)
- Hawaiian Reef Plants (Isabella Aiona Abbott; John Marinus Huisman; Celia M. Smith (2007)
- Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands: Their Culture, Environment, and Use (Isabella Aiona Abbott; Roger R. B. Leakey, Craig R. Elevitch).
Submitted by Margaret A. Neale; Illustration partially based on a photo by Dr. Isabella Kauakea Aiona Abbot