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The College of Natural Sciences

The centerpiece of the STEM activity at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

Our Mission

  • To prepare students to function in a world of rapid scientific and technological change.
  • To teach the meaning and role of scientific method and its importance to society.
  • To prepare students for significant positions in the increasingly technological societies of Hawai‘i, the United States, the Pacific Rim or the nations of the world.
  • To ensure that students understand the meaning and importance of scientific ethics.
  • To create new knowledge in Mathematics, Information Science, the Physical Sciences and the Biological Sciences; to apply that knowledge for the betterment of people everywhere.
  • To bring to the people of Hawai‘i a sense of excitement about important scientific discoveries, both old and new.

Centerpiece of STEM

The College of Natural Sciences (CNS) at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa is the centerpiece of the STEM activity at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. CNS currently serves over 2,000 undergraduate students and almost 500 graduate students.

The last three years have proven to be some of the most exciting days in this history of CNS as the college has undergone a widespread revitalization. Under the leadership of Dean William Ditto, the college has experienced steady enrollment growth, building and laboratory transformations, and the addition of thirty new faculty members who have infused our learning environment with fresh ideas, cutting edge approaches, and unprecedented levels of funding dollars.

Teaching and Research Excellence

Complementing the College’s strong teaching commitment is a world-class research component that annually produces approximately $25M - $30M in grants and contracts. In addition to producing substantial research funds, the College of Natural Sciences also earns an additional $22M in tuition income for UH Mānoa.  The combination of grants and tuition allows NS faculty to produce 3 times their total salaries to the University. Private support helps us leverage these successes to do more.

Innovation and Opportunity

The following are recent initiatives and areas of focus within the College of Natural Sciences: 

  • New Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy and Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics
  • New Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science Degrees in Biochemistry
  • Samuel Ting is joining the faculty of the Physics and Astronomy department (while keeping his home position at MIT) to open up new possibilities of high-energy research with our existing faculty and new faculty recruits.
  • iPad based curricula and classrooms piloted in Math and Chemistry in anticipation of broader roll outs 
  • CNS is working with publishers to implement new electronic textbook pilots that will save students money and provide them with innovative new ways to learn at any time and every place they happen to be during the day or night
  • New innovation hub is being developed to provide students and faculty with entrepreneurial opportunities and experiences and to promote spinoff companies based on discoveries in the College.
  • Renovation of Edmondson and Snyder Hall to provide faculty and students laboratories and classrooms of the highest quality
  • The Natural Sciences Learning Emporium serves students both from within CNS and outside the college in tutoring for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math disciplines
  • New active research programs in Applied Mathematics, Imaging, Ethno Botany and Marine Biology
  • A new MS and PhD degree in Marine Biology (joint with the School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology), Zoology and Biology

Our Vision

With private support we can leverage our positive momentum and keep growing and applying discoveries that enrich our natural world.

Leading Research

The College of Natural Sciences is home to many leading researchers in a variety of fields.  Below are some examples of the wide ranging research activities taking place within CNS


Studies of Botany have shown that the silversword, unique to Hawai'i, is related to plant organisms indigenous to the mainland.


Compounds extracted from blue/green algae have shown promise for use as a chemotherapy drug to fight several types of cancer.

Information & Computer Science

  • An ICS researcher has developed sophisticated software that can measure previously undetectable cancer growth.  Located at UH Mānoa, she is partnering with the radiology department of Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where it has been adopted as a standard component of the imaging protocol for all brain tumor patients
  • Another ICS researcher is conducting food studies to determine what astronauts can and should eat on long duration space travel.


Along with graduate and undergraduate students, a Math professor has developed outreach educational programs to bring research about autonomous underwater vehicles into K-12 classrooms (including presentations at the Institute for Human Services). UH students work alongside classroom teachers to introduce topics from hydrodynamics, engineering, mathematics and autonomous control.


  • Studies in Microbiology have shown organisms that are capable of living in environments of the strongest acids.

  • Another researcher studying the DNA of organisms that grow in Hawaiian lava caves has uncovered previously undiscovered microbes.

Physics and Astronomy

Recent studies in elementary particle physics have given evidence that the neutrino does in fact have mass.


Many research studies in this department focus on studying the evolutionary process and the ecological relationships within the unusual communities found in Hawai'i, an outstanding natural lab of evolution.

Funding Priorities

Distinguished Professorships

To continue to educate the future leaders and to meet the demand for research and training at home and abroad, the need for superior and senior faculty members is critical for continued success.  The creation of endowed professorships will enable the College of Natural Sciences to attract and retain the best senior faculty members with notable accomplishments and professional associations.

Faculty Fellowships

Fellowships are critical to growing our faculty resources.  The faculty brings expertise in all the units of the college of Natural Sciences 

Graduate Fellowships

Graduate Research Fellowships allow graduate students to participate in research and training in the School’s outreach activities.  Graduate Fellowships will better prepare students for advanced careers and leadership roles across the various units of the college.  They encourage distinguished achievement and elevate the professional development of the students.

Student Scholarship Endowments

Scholarship endowments will allow the School to assist and encourage students who are interested in studying in all units of the college. These scholarship endowments will allow the college to provide opportunity to the brightest students in Hawai’i and across the US, students in need of financial support, and students from our native Hawaiian community.

Support The Journey

Together, we can move Hawai‘i and its people toward a remarkable future.
Together, we can Journey Beyond

For information on supporting The College of Natural Sciences, please contact:

Karla Zarate-Ramirez, CFRE
Executive Director of Development,
College of Engineering and College of Natural Sciences
(808) 956-2906 •