Erika Matsui is a 35-year-old first-year Natural Science/Biology major from Tagimi, Japan (Gifu Prefecture). Before moving to Hawai’i, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design and began work as an aesthetician and hair stylist. Matsui, whose father was previously a guest geophysics researcher at UH-Mānoa, decided to continue her studies here, beginning at KCC.

“I am appreciative and glad to be a student at KCC,” Matsui said, “and my fathers’ peers recommended I begin here. … The instructors offer a better atmosphere for learning, they told me.”

Working as an aesthetician and hair stylist, Matsui became concerned with only being able to treat the symptoms of the chronic skin disease and alopecia. She wants to do more and be able to treat the underlying cause of the symptoms, to find a cure.

“Observing my father, how he studied and how he approached his research, he inspired me to want to be a biomedical researcher … so that I can really help these people,” she said.

Matsui is currently working on her prerequisites so that she can begin her graduate studies at UH Mānoa and to eventually earn a doctorate in either Microbiology or Molecular Biology and Bio-engineering.