This is content from the Catalog 2019–2020 back issue. Please visit the current catalog for current information.

Department Chair: Mazen L. Hamad , Ph.D. (Fall 2019)

Department Chair: Norbert Furumo, Ph.D. (Spring 2020)



Associate Professors:

  • Norbert Furumo, Ph. D., Agricultural Biochemistry and General Chemistry
  • Jon-Pierre Michaud , Ph.D., Toxicology, Pharmacology and Environmental Chemistry
  • 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 Natural Sciences Division 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

Both programs of study are designed to provide students with the following:

  • A fundamental understanding of analytical, inorganic, instrumental, organic and physical chemistry.
  • A basic understanding of physics.
  • Basic knowledge of the differential and integral calculus and statistical analysis.
  • Basic chemistry laboratory skills.
  • Skills to do chemical research.
  • The ability to engage in scientific inquiry.
  • An understanding of the relationship of chemistry and the environment.
  • The experience of preparing and presenting a seminar.

In addition, the Health Sciences Emphasis imparts to students a basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and genetics.

Prospects for Chemistry Graduates

Either B.S. curriculum prepares the student for the job market immediately after graduation or for further education in graduate or professional school. As the name implies, the Health Science emphasis is designed for students who are seeking careers in health related fields such as medicine. 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 two majors designed to meet the differing needs of students:

  • B.S., Chemistry: A traditional curriculum with a strong physical science emphasis
  • B.S., Chemistry- Biosciences: Combines the study of chemistry with 21 semester hours of selected biology courses