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College of Natural Sciences
Edmondson 152
2538 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8617 / (808) 956-7315
Fax: (808) 956-9812
E-mail: zoology@hawaii.edu
Web: www.hawaii.edu/zoology


S. Conant, PhD (chair)—ornithology, ecology, behavior, conservation biology
J. H. Bailey-Brock, PhD—invertebrate zoology, reef ecology, Polychaetes
C. Birkeland, PhD—coral reef biology, fisheries
D. Carlon, PhD—evolution population biology, invertebrate biology
K. Cole, PhD—ichthyology, behavioral ecology, reproductive biology, morphology and morphogenesis, space biology
I. M. Cooke, PhD—cellular neurophysiology, neurosecretion
H. G. de Couet, PhD—molecular genetics and cytoskeleton
L. A. Freed, PhD—evolutionary and behavioral ecology, ornithology, conservation biology
M. G. Hadfield, PhD—reproduction and development of invertebrates
R. A. Kinzie III, PhD—coral reef biology, marine ecology, limnology
J. D. Parrish, PhD—community ecology, fishery biology
S. Robinow, PhD—neurogenetics
J. Stillman, PhD—ecological and evolutionary physiology, marine invertebrate biology, adaptation to environmental stress
J. S. Stimson, PhD—population ecology, marine ecology
A. D. Taylor, PhD—population, theoretical, and insect ecology
T. Tricas, PhD—marine animal behavior
A. Wikramanayake, PhD—developmental biology
C. Womersley, PhD—environmental physiology, biochemical adaptation, parasitology

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

W. W. L. Au, PhD—marine bioacoustics and echolocation
B. Bowen, PhD—molecular genetics of marine vertebrates
R. Cowie, PhD—evolutionary biology, biogeography, ecological genetics, snails, termites
D. Duffy, PhD—conservation biology, sea birds
R. Gates, PhD—molecular biology, developmental genetics, cell biology, physiology and ecology of corals
E. G. Grau, PhD—comparative endocrinology, environmental physiology
D. K. Hartline, PhD—quantitative neurophysiology and simulation of simple networks
K. N. Holland, PhD—physiology, behavior, ecology of aquatic organisms
T. D. Humphreys, PhD—cellular, molecular, biochemical, developmental biology in marine organisms
P. J. Jokiel, PhD—coral reef biology, biogeography and ecology
K. Y. Kaneshiro, PhD—systematics, evolution, insect behavior
P. Lenz, PhD—neuroecology of zooplankton sensory systems
M. Q. Martindale, PhD—evolution of development
P. E. Nachtigall, PhD—behavior and sensory processes of marine mammals
R. Richmond, PhD—invertebrate zoology, conservation biology
E. Seaver, PhD—comparative developmental biology of marine annelids
R. Toonen, PhD—molecular genetics of marine organisms

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

A. Allison, PhD—vertebrate zoology
P. Banko, PhD—ecology, ornithology
J. E. Randall, PhD—ichthyology
S. E. Miller, PhD—invertebrate zoology, conservation biology

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in zoology, BS in zoology, MS in zoology, PhD in zoology

The Academic Program

The Department of Zoology at UH Manoa offers undergraduate programs leading to bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees and a zoology minor, and graduate programs that offer master of science and PhD degrees. Of particular note is the department’s emphasis on tropical marine biology and evolutionary biology. There are few places in the U.S. where these emphases can be pursued more productively or in a more practical setting. Students can acquire a broad background for a career in marine biology. The BS degree is particularly suited for students preparing for graduate training in zoology and related fields and for those seeking immediate employment in zoology-related research and application markets, providing the broadest scientific background at the undergraduate level. Students preparing for pre-professional programs (premedical, pre-dental, pre-physical therapy, pre-veterinary medical) should consider the BA degree. It provides greater flexibility in pursuing the broad liberal arts education encouraged by professional schools. The courses applied toward the zoology major may then be selected with those programs in mind.

Undergraduate Study

Prospective majors should consult a departmental adviser.

BA Degree


  • BIOL 172/172L
  • BIOL 265/265L
  • BIOL 275/275L
  • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L (or CHEM 171/171L)
  • CHEM 272/272L and 273
  • BIOC 441 or BIOL 405 (cross-listed CMB 405), or BIOL 402 (cross-listed PEPS 402 or MBBE 402) (biochemistry lab not required)
  • MATH 215 or 241, or equivalent college-level calculus

Students must take an additional 20 credit hours, including:

  • ZOOL 490
  • Three laboratory courses from the following areas:
  • Developmental (ZOOL 420/420L)
  • Physiology (ZOOL 430/430L, BIOL 406/406L or 407/407L)
  • Ecology and Behavior (ZOOL 306/ 306L, 439/439L, or 470/470L)
  • Genetics (BIOL 375/375L)
  • Morphology and Taxonomy (ZOOL 320/320L, 340/340L, 416/416L, 465/465L, or 475/475L; PEPS 363 or 462)

Zoology courses at the 200 level carry no major credit. MATH 216 or 242 and a year of college physics are strongly recommended for students planning graduate study.

BS Degree


Students must complete 78 to 82 credit hours, including:

  • BIOL 172/172L
  • BIOL 265/265L
  • BIOL 275/275L
  • BIOL 375/375L
  • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L
  • CHEM 272/272L and 273
  • BIOC 441 or BIOL 405 (cross-listed CMB 405), or BIOL 402 (cross-listed PEPS 402 or MBBE 402) (labs not required)
  • PHYS 151/151L, 152/152L; or PHYS 170/170L, 272/272L
  • MATH 215 and 216, or 241 and 242
  • ZOOL 320/320L, or 475/475L, or PEPS 363
  • ZOOL 430/430L
  • ZOOL 490
  • ZOOL 499 (4 credit hours)

Also required are 9 credits of zoology electives (300 level or above in ZOOL or approved BIOL courses), 6 credits in science electives (300 level or above in approved courses in natural sciences), and one semester experience as an undergraduate teaching intern in an approved instructional laboratory.



  • BIOL 265/265L or 275/275L (Students are advised that selecting only one of the bridging courses [BIOL 265, or 275] may preclude access to some upper division zoology courses.)
  • At least 11 credit hours from the following courses, including one upper division lab course. Both BIOL 265/265L and 275/275L count toward the 11 credits but do NOT satisfy the requirement for an upper division lab course.
  • Developmental biology (ZOOL 420/420L)
  • Genetics (BIOL 375/375L)
  • Physiology (BIOL 406/406L, 407/407L; ZOOL 430/430L)
  • Ecology and behavior (ZOOL 306/306L, 439/439L, or 470/470L)
  • Morphology and taxonomy (ZOOL 320/320L, 340/340L, 416/416L, 465/465L, or 475/475L)

ZOOL courses numbered 300 and above and BIOL 490 can be applied toward the required 11 credit hours.

Graduate Study

The department offers programs of graduate study and research leading to the MS and PhD degrees. The major strengths of the graduate program in zoology are in the areas of animal behavior; cellular, molecular, and developmental biology; and evolution and ecology. Especially strong programs have developed in areas that utilize the resources of Hawai‘i’s unique island setting, including developmental biology, marine biology, and ecology, evolution and conservation biology. Much of the research in the department emphasizes the animals of Hawai‘i: marine invertebrates, terrestrial arthropods, fishes, and birds.

Graduate students in zoology may join three interdisciplinary graduate specializations: the Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB); the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) Program; and the Marine Biology (MB) Program. The department also hosts the Hawai‘i Cooperative Fishery Research Unit and has active affiliations with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, the Kewalo Marine Laboratory, the Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology, and the Center for Conservation Research and Training.

Recipients of the MS degree usually teach, pursue careers in research or government service, or pursue further graduate training. Those with the PhD ordinarily seek teaching positions in colleges and universities or research careers in university, government, or private laboratories.

A brochure listing research interests and publications of the members of the zoology graduate faculty, as well as summarizing admissions and program requirements and opportunities for financial aid, is available on request from the department; a separate graduate student handbook describes the details of program requirements and procedures. This information also is available on the Web at www.hawaii.edu/zoology. The following sections summarize the admissions and program requirements, but the department brochure and handbook should be consulted for complete details.


Students are admitted to the graduate program only in the fall semester; the application deadline is January 15.

Applicants must submit a completed graduate application form, the official record of performance on the GRE General Test, transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate studies; and letters of recommendation from three persons who can appraise the student’s aptitude for graduate study. It is strongly recommended that students take the GRE Biology subject test, and include an official record of performance in their applications. An applicant also must be sponsored by a member of the graduate faculty who has indicated his or her willingness to advise the student; the applicant should communicate with prospective faculty sponsors well in advance of the application deadline.

Intended candidates for the MS or PhD degrees in zoology are expected to present a minimum of 18 credit hours of undergraduate course work in zoology and/or biology and to have completed at least three semesters of chemistry (inorganic and organic), one year of physics, and at least one course each in calculus and botany. Deficiencies in undergraduate preparation must be rectified within the first year, without graduate credit. A course in biochemistry or molecular biology is required of all students, but it may be taken for graduate credit.

General Requirements

To ensure that students have broad competence in zoology, they must take a diagnostic examination at the start of their first semester. This examination seeks evidence of competence at the level of the undergraduate major (for MS students) or the master’s degree (for PhD students) in the areas of molecular-cellular, organismic, and supraorganismic zoology. Students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher on any of these sections of the GRE biology test are exempted from the corresponding section of the diagnostic exam. Students who do not perform satisfactorily on the diagnostic examination will be required to take remedial course work, which must be completed within two years.

All entering students are required to take ZOOL 691C. All graduate students are required to take at least one graduate seminar or topics course each year.

Master’s Degrees

Thesis (Plan A) and non-thesis (Plan B) programs leading to the MS degree in zoology are available. In addition to the thesis, Plan A requires a minimum of 24 credit hours of course work and 6 credit hours of ZOOL 700 (thesis). The 24 credit hours must include at least 12 credit hours of 600- or higher-level course work. The 24 credit hours may include up to 6 credit hours from related departments and up to 2 credit hours of ZOOL 699.

Plan B is a non-thesis program and requires a minimum of 30 credit hours in 400- through 700-level courses. The 30 credit hours must include at least 6 but not more than 16 credit hours from related departments (excluding courses cross-listed in zoology or applicable to the zoology BA degree) and at least 18 credit hours of 600- or higher-level course work. The 18 credit hours of graduate course work must include at least 2 but not more than 5 credit hours of ZOOL 699. A research paper based on original scientific work is required.

Doctoral Degree

Many applicants to the PhD program will have completed a master’s degree, but well-qualified applicants without a master’s degree may be admitted directly into the PhD program. Students enrolled in the master’s program also may apply for, provided they clearly indicate they wish to do so in their application. Students currently enrolled in the master’s program also may apply for admission into the PhD program without completing the master’s degree.

Course Requirements

For students matriculating with a master’s degree in Zoology (or equivalent), there are no course requirements for the PhD degree other than the general requirements (ZOOL 691C in the first year, and at least one graduate seminar or topics course each year), and any courses required by the student’s dissertation committee.

For students matriculating with a bachelor’s degree, general course requirements are very similar to the requirements for students receiving a Plan A Master’s degree. A minimum of 24 credits are required in courses numbered 400-800. Additionally, 6 credits are required of ZOOL 800 (dissertation), for a total of 30 credit hours. Students are required to enroll in ZOOL 800 during the term in which their degree will be conferred. At least 12 of the 24 credits of required coursework should be in 600-700 level courses, not counting ZOOL 699. The Zoology Department requires that 1 of the 24 coursework credits include ZOOL 691C. Of the 24 required credit hours, student may include a maximum of 2 credit hours from ZOOL 699, and up to 6 of the 24 credits are allowed from courses in related departments. All courses cross-listed with Zoology, and all Biology courses which can be counted towards a Zoology BA or BS, are considered Zoology courses, not courses in a related department.

Other Requirements

An oral comprehensive examination must be passed within one year of admission to candidacy; this examination will emphasize the student’s research area but may cover any facet of zoology.

The research project culminating in the dissertation is the most important part of the PhD degree program. The dissertation is to be an original contribution based on independent research, carried out under the guidance of the adviser and dissertation committee. The completed dissertation is defended at a public final examination, conducted by the dissertation committee and including a public research seminar by the candidate.

Further Information

Further information about the graduate program in zoology, including full details of admissions and program requirements, may be obtained from the department or at www.hawaii.edu/zoology. Other inquiries may be sent to zoology@hawaii.edu.

ZOOL Courses