Department of Biology

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The mission of the Department of Biology of the University of Hawaii is distinguished by education and research that centers on the interrelationships of living things with their environment, and in the context of their evolution. This mission balances cell and molecular, organismic, and supraorganismic approaches to provide an understanding of the nature of life that is especially suited to tropical terrestrial and tropical marine environments.

Since its inception in this century, the Department of Biology has been noted for its expertise in tropical marine biology. As the department developed over the years, the faculty strove to continue implementing a unified approach to biology. While faculty interests range from cellular & molecular biology to ecology & systematics, all members recognize that each discipline can grow most effectively in a geographically isolated area only with true interdisciplinary cooperation.

The growth of the Department of Biology in the area of tropical marine biology continues, and today the department is recognized as one of the best in the country in this area. Evolutionary biology, a study area complimentary to marine biology, has seen growth to nearly equal strength in the past decade. The evolution of organisms in the Hawaiian Islands is, if anything, more spectacular on land than in the sea. This is recognized by national and international researchers, many of whom consider the Hawaiian Islands to be an outstanding living laboratory for the study of evolution and conservation biology.

Biodiversity, the umbrella term for the evolutionary richness of life, is commonly said to reach its zenith in tropical rainforests and coral reefs, two biomes that have been under intensive study by faculty and graduate students in the department. As an educational unit, we take it as one of our primary tasks to instruct our students in this area which is central to the unique nature of the state of Hawaii. It is of particular importance that we educate our undergraduates in this area since many of them will go on to make up the citizenry of the state, and will be forever influenced by the fate of our natural resources.

While the department's past and current reputations lie in the area of tropical marine and terrestrial biology and biodiversity, emphasis in these areas also involves unraveling the evolutionary pathways that have produced these systems and developing an understanding that can be used in the thoughtful conservation of these legacies. It is our intention, through the continuous application of our efforts in the coming decades, to build on this and develop a world-class integrated program in biodiversity with particular emphasis on tropical marine biology, evolution, and conservation biology in both marine and terrrestrial systems.


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Department of Biology
University of Hawaii at Manoa
2538 McCarthy Mall, Edmondson 152
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone (808) 956-8617
Fax (808) 956-9812
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