Welcome to the UH Hilo Biology Department

Biology is one of the largest departments at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo with faculty expertise encompassing the disciplines of physiology, microbiology, molecular and population genetics, biostatistics, evolution, cell biology, botany, mycology, tropical forest ecology, conservation biology, marine ecology, and ichthyology. (About the Biology Department…)

News and Events

UH Hilo's newest Biology faculty member, Dr. Jolene Sutton, sequences rare Hawaiian crow's genome that will assist in conservation efforts

January 2016

"In collaboration with PacBio, scientists at San Diego Zoo Global and the University of Hawaii, Hilo have fully sequenced the genome of the 'Alalā, or Hawaiian crow and shared the results of this effort at the recent annual Plant and Animal Genomics XXIV Conference in San Diego. The 'Alalā was once reduced to a population of about 20 birds, and the sequencing of the species' genome will be important to track any genetic challenges that may occur due to the reduced genetic diversity now seen in the species." - Zoological Society of San Diego.


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Hawaiian Crow

Photo credit: http://blognew.sandiegozoo.org/


Biology Welcomes new Assistant Professor, Dr. Jolene Sutton

Spring 2016

Dr. Sutton received her Ph.D. from the University of Otago in 2013. She then worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at UH-Mānoa until joining the Biology Department at UH-Hilo in 2016. Her research area is Molecular and Conservation Genetics, with a specific focus on immunity genes.


Biology Students Volunteer for Community Service at Napo'opo'o in Waipio Valley

November 2015

At the end of November, 24 Biology students participated in Service Learning with Kulia Potter who advocates for education of indigenous Hawaiian culture through mo'olelo (storytelling) of Hawaiian history and the propagation of native Hawaiian plants and Polynesian introduced plants. On this trip, students cleared land, planted 'ulu trees and taro, and had fun too!

Group picture




Biology's 2008 “Outstanding Senior Biology Major,” Melissa Johnson, publishes her M.S. research results

November 2015

Melissa Johnson, UH Hilo Biology Department alumna and "Outstanding Senior Biology Major 2008" has just published her first peer-reviewed, lead-author paper, "Postzygotic barriers isolate sympatric species of Cyrtandra (Gesneriaceae) in Hawaiian montane forest understories." The paper, which was coauthored by members of the Departments of Biology and Geography, is highlighted as an "Editor's choice" article in the November 2015 issue of the American Journal of Botany. The paper results from her M.S. thesis in UH Hilo's TCBES Graduate Program, which she defended in 2011. Currently, Melissa is continuing her studies on Cyrtandra as a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University.


Biology senior Merritt Burch just returned from her NSF funded REU internship at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln

August 2015

Biology senior Merritt Burch just returned from her NSF funded REU internship at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln where she studied snRNA processing and miRNA regulation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Burch helped identify mutants defective in pollen and embryo development and showed the critical importance of C-terminal domain processing of snRNAs in the plant's development.

Burch in lab

Burch conference



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