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Honolulu Scientist of Year Portrayed in Nyad Movie for her Venom Expertise

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Honolulu's 2013 ARCS Scientist of the Year Dr. Angel Yanagihara is portrayed in the 2023 Netflix movie Nyad in her real-life role as advisor on the team supporting Diana Nyad's drive to complete the 110-mile open ocean swim from Cuba to Florida at age 60. She was the go-to expert on venomous jellyfish that the swimmer encountered in her attempted swims.
Dr. Yanagihara became interested in Cnidaria venom after her own near-fatal brush wtih box jellies while swimming off Waikiiki. It became the focus of her investigations as director of the Pacific Cnidaria Research Lab in the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa's Pacific Biosciences Research Center and assistant researcher in the UH School of Medicine's Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology.
She was PhD advisor to 2012 Honolulu ARCS Scholar Christie Wilcox, whose own interest in venoms dovetailed with her burgeoning career as a science communicator in the the 2016 Scientific American book Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry. Dr. Wilson is a science blogger and newsletter editor for the jouirnal Science.
Visit Dr. Yanagihara's website, read about her research in Science, or listen to her interview on Science Friday. Information on the movie starring Annette Bening and Jodie Foster is available on IMDb.
Dr. Angel Yanagihara in scuba suit