UC Santa Cruz mourns death of young researcher killed in diving accident – The Mercury News
SANTA CRUZ — Umihiko Hoshijima, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz, died in an apparent diving accident Wednesday off the Alaska coast. He was 28.
Hoshijima was found unresponsive on the surface of the ocean off the coast of Glacier Bay National Park on Wednesday, according to the National Parks Service. He had been surveying underwater plots on a research dive from a U.S. Geological Survey vessel.
“The UC Santa Cruz community mourns the loss of Umihiko Hoshijima, a bright and talented postdoctoral scholar who died during a dive associated with a research project in Alaska,” UCSC said in a statement Friday. “Our deepest condolences go out to Umi’s family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.”
A U.S. citizen born to Japanese parents, Hoshijima was raised in Southern California, according to a UCSC news release.
He studied biological sciences at UCSC as an undergrad, graduating with honors in 2013 with minors in electronic music and chemistry.
Hoshijima earned a doctorate in ecology, evolution and marine biology from UC Santa Barbara in 2018 before returning to the Santa Cruz campus as a postdoctoral researcher later that year. He worked in the lab of ecology and evolutionary biology professor Kristy Kroeker, studying how ocean acidification and warming impact kelp forest species in Alaska.
According to Kroeker, Hoshijima was an accomplished diver whose graduate work took him beneath the surface of the ice in Antarctica.
“He was an impeccable scientist, and often ran workshops to teach students how to code and do scientific analyses,” Kroeker said in the campus release. “He was beloved by his lab mates and colleagues worldwide.”
Outside the lab, Hoshijima was known as a talented musician and an advocate for inclusivity in science who could often be found playing the accordion on a bench outside the Coastal Biology Building.
“As a first-generation immigrant, I have had shockingly few science role models that share my racial and bicultural identity,” Hoshijima wrote on his personal website. “I am passionate about making science inclusive for students of varied backgrounds.”
The U.S. Geological Survey vessel Gyre was in Torch Bay, north of Cape Spencer, at the time of the apparent accident. Colleagues aboard the Gyre unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate Hoshijima, the National Parks Service said in a news release.
The cause of his death had not been released as of Monday afternoon.
A joint investigation into the circumstances preceding Hoshijima’s death was ongoing Monday, involving the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Parks Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a National Parks Service spokeswoman.
According to UCSC, Hoshijima is survived by his father, Masahiko Hoshijima, his mother Yukiko, and brothers Tsuki and Yumehiko.