Biology Department

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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.

Our department's mission is to provide students with a comprehensive background in biology, supported by basic knowledge in the natural science disciplines of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. With this background, students are prepared to enter professional or graduate school programs or to seek employment in entry-level biological science positions in government or the private sector.

Members of the biology faculty are committed to the highest quality of undergraduate and graduate teaching. Reflective of the department's commitment to quality education is the fact that four biology faculty have been honored with the Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching. We strive to combine traditional classroom methods with hands-on practical experience for all of our majors. As much as possible, biology faculty incorporate the Big Island as a "natural laboratory" in their teaching, taking advantage of the island's diverse ecosystems and unique biogeography. UH Hilo is conveniently located just 45 minutes from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and five minutes from Hilo Bay.

In addition to teaching, the biology faculty have active research programs that provide opportunities for student involvement not normally afforded undergraduates. Biology faculty research is supported by federal, state, and private agency grants, including three Early Career Development Awards from the National Science Foundation, the foundation’s most prestigious awards for junior faculty. A majority of biology majors gain hands-on experience through directed studies, research assistantships with faculty or federal or state agencies, or through established on-campus programs such as the Minority Biomedical Research Support, PIPES, and Keaholoa STEM.

Biology majors may specialize in one of two tracks--the Cellular and Molecular Biology track (C&M) or the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology track (EECB). The curricula for these tracks are identical in the first two years of study, but diverge in upper division course work. The C&M track is ideal for students with interests in biomedical, biotechnology, or molecular fields, and the EECB track is well suited for students with interests in the ecology, evolution, and environmental fields. A biology major may earn either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in either of these tracks.