UH Hilo researchers represented in global ranking

Chemist Matt Platz, biologist Rebecca Ostertag, engineer Shihwu Sung, and psychologist Bryan Kim are recognized in global ranking as top scientists in their fields.

Two scientists planting an 'ulu tree.
At left, Becky Ostertag, reforestation researcher, plants ‘ulu (breadfruit tree) in research plot. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan Enright.

Four researchers at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo have been recognized among the world’s top scientists in the fields of chemistry, ecology and evolution, environmental science, and psychology, according to the 2023 best university rankings by Research.com.

Chemistry: Matt Platz

Matthew Platz pictured.
Matthew Platz

In Chemistry, UH Hilo is ranked No. 192 in the United States and No. 1,056 in the world. Professor of Chemistry Matthew S. Platz is No. 2,033 U.S.; No. 6,459 world; D-index 60; citations 11,253; and publications 348 (Ohio State, UH Hilo).

Prof. Platz specializes in physical organic chemistry and photochemistry. His primary areas of study are reactive intermediates such as carbenes, nitrenes and free radicals and the use of photochemistry to eradicate pathogens in aqueous solutions, including blood. His research involves organic synthesis, analysis of reaction mixtures by GC-MS, computational chemistry and femtosecond time resolved UV-vis and IR spectroscopies. Read more.

Ecology and Evolution: Becky Ostertag

Rebecca Ostertag pictured
Rebecca Ostertag

In Ecology and Evolution, UH Hilo is ranked No. 200 in the U.S., No. 668 world. Professor of Biology Rebecca Ostertag is ranked No. 1,684 U.S.; No. 4,678 world; D-index 35; citations 7,754; publications 81.

Prof. Ostertag is a tropical forest ecologist whose research interests revolve around understanding how tropical forests are structured and how tropical ecosystems function. She’s worked in both Latin America and Hawai‘i. Her many projects include investigations into the significance of foliar nitrogen and phosphorous accumulation in tropical forests; species invasions and their effects on nutrient cycling; barriers to restoration in invaded Hawaiian lowland wet forest; and Hawaiian forest dynamics using long-term permanent plots. Learn more.

Environmental Sciences: Shihwu Sung

Shihwu Sung pictured.
Shihwu Sung

In Environmental Sciences, UH Hilo is No. 177 U.S., No. 768 world. Professor of Applied Engineering Shihwu Sung is No. 2,081 U.S.; No. 5,218 world; D-index 36; citations 7,048; publications 79.

Prof. Sung specializes in environmental engineering. His research interests include pollution prevention and waste treatment technologies with an emphasis on waste-to-energy recovery and production of valuable byproducts. He specializes in water and soil pollution control technologies and alternative energy options in farm settings and has developed four patented technologies, all licensed to the private sector for commercial applications. Read more on the research.

Psychology: Bryan Kim

Brian Kim pictured.
Bryan Kim

In Psychology, UH Hilo is No. 280 U.S., No. 743 world. Professor of Psychology Bryan S. K. Kim is No. 4,076 U.S.; No. 7,317 world; D-index 34; citations 8,297; publications 80.

Prof. Kim’s areas of expertise are in multicultural psychotherapy process and outcome, measurement of culture-specific constructs, psychotherapist training, and immigrant experiences. His current research examines the effects of culture-specific interventions and client enculturation and acculturation (e.g., cultural values) on psychotherapy process and outcome. His interest in cross-cultural psychology largely stems from his experiences growing up in Hawai‘i as a 1.5-generation Asian American. Learn more about the research.

UH System rankings

Read full release about UH System rankings at UH System News.


Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

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