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Hideto Ikehara is a rising senior from Japan. While he was born in Singapore and raised in Okinawa (the southernmost Japanese island in the Western Pacific), he now attends high school in Tokyo, away from family, to expand his learning and opportunities. In his free time, he enjoys tennis, piano, and baking. 

When Hideto first dove into the ocean and witnessed coral bleaching firsthand, his view and pride of Okinawa as a forever place of its beautiful, healthy ocean was shattered. With their white skeletons exposed and branches broken off the main body, many coral pieces were lying dead on the ocean floor. Hideto spent hours rummaging the web, reading every article and watching every webinar he could find. For over twenty years, Okinawa’s corals had undergone the worst bleaching events, or mass death occurrences, due to global and local human activities. Hideto was overwhelmed to witness corals on the brink of extinction, but also faced the dilemma of how the issue can be solved, whether by radically mitigating global influences or focusing on local stressors, even to the extent of compromising certain businesses, industries, or government. 

In the summer of 2023, Hideto attended Brown Pre-College Programs at Brown University in Rhode Island. Attending the class “Nature As Our Teacher: Learning Skills to Shape Change”, Hideto met with high schoolers from around the world who each have their own environmental concerns. The meaningful hours of discussions, readings, and exchange of experiences enhanced Hideto’s learning about environmental leadership and climate action. After returning to Okinawa (for summer break), Hideto was an intern at Professor Timothy Ravasi’s Marine Climate Change Unit at Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology. While the summer program inspired discussion about climate action and governmental policy, his time with researchers and Ph.D. students gave him a sensation of the scientific aspect: from hypotheses to experiments to complex data analyses. With this experience, Hideto also completed a scientific literature review on the impact of Okinawa’s tourism on coral reef degradation and insight into effective conservation, published in an academic journal. 

His mission is to continue pursuing a deeper understanding of coral bleaching and sustainability, preparing himself to develop innovative solutions, form partnerships, and lead initiatives in the future. 

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