Above: PISCES’ Kyla Defore leads a Q&A on Mars colonization during HawaiiCon.

PISCES Geology Technician Kyla Defore visited the fifth-annual HawaiiCon Science Fiction Convention in September to talk about the future of human exploration on Mars and her Materials Science research that could one day make science-fiction dreams a reality.

Several dozen adults and teens attended Kyla’s talk, entitled “Living off the Land: Paving the Way to Mars,” which explored what humans will need to establish establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet. She also discussed Hawaii’s geology and volcanology in the context of Mars research, and how her research to develop sustainable building materials using Hawaii basalt fits into the larger effort of space exploration.

The four-day event was held at a hotel resort in Waikoloa as a fundraising effort to support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education on Hawaii Island. Educators and scholars gathered to participate in the Pacific-Basin STEAM Teaching Conference and the Science Fiction Popular Cultures Academic Conference—both held in conjunction with the event. HawaiiCon also highlighted the unique contributions of traditional Hawaiian culture to science fiction and fantasy genres.