Department Chair: Mazen Hamad , Ph.D.



Associate Professors:

  • Charles Simmons , Ph.D., Crystallography / Inorganic and Physical Chemistry


Chemistry is the study of matter and energy and the changes that they undergo. Everything that is known in the physical universe is made up of either matter or energy and the rest is just empty space. Chemistry often is referred to as the central science, and an understanding of chemistry can be a powerful tool. All other branches of the natural sciences will touch upon the subject of chemistry and, indeed, here at UH Hilo all majors in the College of Natural and Health Sciences except for Mathematics and Physics are required to take courses in chemistry.


The mission of the undergraduate degree program in chemistry is to offer a general and specific set of courses in several areas in chemistry that will provide students within its majors a fundamental understanding, through qualitative and quantitative reasoning, of matter and energy and the changes that they undergo. The program is designed to prepare students for advanced degrees in graduate or professional programs and for students who are seeking to immediately enter the work force as teachers and technicians. Because few students major in chemistry, graduates tend to find options for further study and career opportunities.

Goals for Student Learning in the Major

Upon completion of a B.S. in Chemistry, Chemistry-Biosciences, or Chemistry-Health Sciences at UH Hilo, graduates will be able to:

  • Explain and utilize a fundamental understanding of analytical, inorganic, instrumental, organic and physical chemistry.
  • Communicate a basic understanding of physics and its connection with chemistry.
  • Apply differential and integral calculus in solving scientific problems.
  • Use statistical methods to analyze and interpret data.
  • Exhibit basic chemistry laboratory skills and techniques.
  • Explain and utilize an understanding of the relationship of chemistry and the environment.
  • Explain and utilize an understanding of how chemistry informs biology/ health sciences/ agriculture.
  • Productively participate in chemical research.
  • Engage in scientific inquiry.
  • Independently prepare and present scientific findings or research at a seminar.

Prospects for Chemistry Graduates

The B.S. in Chemistry curriculum prepares students for the job market immediately after graduation, for further education in graduate/professional school, and to work in education as a chemistry or science teacher. The B.S. in Chemistry is the traditional chemistry degree intended for students with a strong interest in chemistry, math, and physics, and is especially suited for students wishing to pursue graduate education in chemistry. The BS in Chemistry-Biosciences track is intended for students that wish to have a laboratory-intensive undergraduate degree that will prepare them for graduate/professional school in chemistry, biosciences and other fields, and also provide them with sufficient preparation to begin a career working with laboratory technology. The B.S. in Chemistry-Health Sciences track is designed for students who are seeking careers in health related fields such as pharmacy, medicine, and dentistry, and specifically satisfies the prerequisite courses required for the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at UH Hilo. Chemistry majors who also complete the UH Hilo Teacher Education Program may apply for initial basic teaching certificates in elementary and secondary education in the State of Hawaiʻi.

Chemistry for Non-Majors

Non-chemistry majors who choose to fulfill part of their General Education requirements with CHEM 100 Chemistry and Society (3) or CHEM 151 Elementary Survey of Chemistry (3) will gain insight into the chemical nature of the universe. It is also possible to pursue a minor in chemistry. Requirements for all programs are described below.


The Chemistry Program offers three major tracks designed to meet the diverse needs of students. Students majoring in chemistry must select one of these tracks:

  • B.S., Chemistry: A traditional curriculum with a strong physical science emphasis
  • B.S., Chemistry- Biosciences: Combines the study of chemistry with 14 semester hours of selected biology courses
  • B.S., Chemistry-Health Sciences: A chemistry program that aligns with the UH Hilo Pre-Pharmacy curriculum and helps to prepare students for a career in the health sciences