Chemistry and Biochemistry

HPU offers a rigorous chemistry and biochemistry education that prepares students for graduate and health professional schools, as well as direct entry into the scientific workforce, through both conventional pathways and pre-health professions concentrations. Our chemistry program is modeled after the American Chemical Society (ACS) guidelines for undergraduate chemistry education while our biochemistry program is based on guidelines from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). All our students develop the intellectual, experimental, and communication skills needed to become effective scientific professionals. Our dedicated faculty work directly with students in hands-on experiences through undergraduate research and in our laboratory courses that are rich, relevant, and reflective of academic, industrial, and government laboratories.

Chemistry is the study of matter which makes up everything in the universe, including ourselves and our planet. As such, chemistry is central to the natural sciences, serving as a foundation for all other disciplines – biochemistry, biology, genetics, environmental and marine sciences, engineering, and even astronomy. Chemistry is also an excellent foundation for all of the health professions including medical, pharmacy, dental, and veterinary sciences. 

By studying chemistry, students develop an understanding of how the universe works at the fundamental molecular level. A strong background in chemistry can prepare students not only for service directly in the chemical area (e.g. education, biotech companies, analytical chemistry, pharmaceutical research, synthesis, material sciences, quality control, etc.), but also for careers in many related disciplines (e.g. medical fields, environmental services, alternative fuels, etc.).

There is a wide range of career paths for students who major in chemistry. For more ideas, check out the American Chemical Society’s College to Career page, explore their Chemistry Careers, and view Chemist Profiles to get started in building your own unique career path. 

Biochemistry is the study of the molecules and chemical reactions inside all living things. It is the discipline at the intersection of chemistry and biology that explores how thousands of different biomolecules organize into tens of thousands of biological functions that give rise to millions of different life forms. In short, biochemists use chemical knowledge and techniques to answer biological questions.

There are a wide range of career options for students who major in biochemistry. Because biological molecules are so fundamental to the function and interactions of organisms, biochemists study life at all levels – from individual molecules to entire ecosystems – making it an integral part of fields such as medicine, biomedical research, genetics, forensics, ecology, microbiology, plant sciences, zoology, and more. At the same time, training in biochemistry also develops transferable skills that allow biochemists to work in fields outside the sciences including law, cosmetic and food industries, manufacturing, publishing, sales/marketing, and many others. For more ideas, check out the Biochemical Society’s career guide, explore the ASBMB's Exploring careers in biochemistry and molecular biology, and/or talk to our biochemistry faculty to get started in building your own unique career path. These publications provide a great perspective on the field and the types of career paths graduates can pursue with a Biochemistry degree.

  • Rigorous Bachelor of Science degrees in chemistry and biochemistry through which our students develop the intellectual, experimental, and communication skills needed to become effective scientific professionals

  • A chemistry program built upon the American Chemical Society (ACS) guidelines for undergraduate chemistry education

  • A biochemistry program built upon the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) guidelines for undergraduate biochemistry education

  • Small class sizes and dedicated faculty who work directly with students in hands-on experiences in research and in laboratory courses

  • Lab courses that are rich, relevant, and reflective of academic, industrial, and government laboratories

  • Research labs that are highly accessible, well-equipped, and well-supported, including funding from the National Institutes of Health

  • Our Conventional Chemistry and Conventional Biochemistry pathways prepare students for graduate schools and direct entry into the scientific workforce while our Pre-Health Chemistry and Pre-Health Biochemistry concentrations prepare students for entry into medical, pharmacy, veterinary, and dental schools

The Biochemistry program outcomes are:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic and foundational chemical principles that provide significant insight into the functioning of living systems.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of key concepts and principles regarding biochemical structures, principal biochemical pathways of living organisms and the molecular basis of biochemical processes
  3. Demonstrate expertise in commonly used biochemical laboratory methods
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the theory and learn to operate a wide variety of advanced biochemical instrumentation.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of how to access and interpret literature in the field of biochemistry
  6. Critically analyze experimental results
  7. Present scientific information orally using visual aids
  8. Communicate scientific information in written reports
  9. Acquire and statistically analyze quantitative data
  10. Solve biochemical problems quantitatively

 

The Chemistry program outcomes are:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic and foundational chemical principles that provide significant insight into the functioning of the physical world.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts within the core areas of chemistry: analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic and physical.
  3. Develop expertise in commonly used chemical laboratory methods.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the theory and learn to operate a wide variety of advanced chemical instrumentation.
  5. Learn to access and interpret literature in the field of chemistry.
  6. Critically analyze experimental results.
  7. Present scientific information orally using visual aids.
  8. Communicate scientific information in written reports.
  9. Acquire and statistically analyze quantitative data.
  10. Solve chemical problems quantitatively.

 

Some example careers for chemistry and biochemistry graduates include:

  • Chemical industry
  • Medicine, dentistry, pharmacy
  • Graduate school in chemistry, biochemistry, engineering, and related fields
  • Teaching
  • Pharmaceutical and biotech jobs
  • Forensics labs
  • Diagnostics and analytical labs

Majoring in chemistry and biochemistry develops skills that are transferable to careers outside the sciences.  These include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical and math skills
  • Scientific writing
  • Oral communication
  • Leadership and team skills
  • Planning/time management

Cedric Kuo

Cedric Kuo, D.O.
From Minnesota and Serbia
B.S. Biochemistry/
B.S. Biology 2009
Doctor of Osteopathy,
Rocky Vista University 2015,
University of Hawaiʻi Family Medicine

Chih-Wei Chang

Chih-Wei Chang, M.D.
Originally from Taiwan, high school in Hilo, Hawaiʻi
B.S. Biochemistry/
B.S. Biology 2011
HPU Valedictorian
John A. Burns School of Medicine 2016

Kelly Gallbraith

Kelly Galbraith, M.S.
Grew up in Japan and Hawaiʻi
B.S. Biochemistry 2011
M.S. Biochemistry, Kyoto University 2015
Ph.D. student, Neurobiology, Kyoto University

Allyssia Boelk

Allyssia Boelk
Originally from Texas
B.S. Biochemistry 2012
M.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Science, Georgetown University 2015
Senior Biochemistry Technician, Medical Chemical Defense, Battelle Memorial Institutes

Leo Phuc Nguyen

Leo Phuc Nguyen, M.S.
Born in Vietnam, raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi
B.S. Biochemistry/
B.S. Math 2013
M.S. Biomedical Engineering,
University of Pennsylvania, 2016
Ph.D. student, Neuroscience, Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat

Hannah Seo

Hannah Seo
Originally from Chicago, Illinois
B.S. Biochemistry 2013
  Pharm. D. student,
University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Pharmacy

Aaron Thomas

Aaron Thomas
Originally from Georgia
B.S. Chemistry 2014
Ph.D. student, Astrochemistry,
University of Hawaiʻi, 2015-present
U.S. Military Veteran

James Herman

James Herman
Originally from Seattle, Washington
B.S. Chemistry 2014
Quality Control Analyst,
Lantheus Medical Imaging

Erik Henze

Erik Henze
Originally from Kailua, Hawaiʻi
B.S. Biochemistry 2016
Ph.D. student, Biophysical Chemistry, Cornell University

Brendan Ito

Brendan Ito
Originally from Kāneʻohe, Hawaiʻi
B.A. Psychology 2016, Minor in Chemistry
Ph.D. student
Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University 

Marc Balintag

Marc Balintag
Originally from Guam
B.S. Chemistry 2017
U.S. Army Officer

Samantha Avina

Samantha Avina
Originally from California
B.S. Biochemistry 2017
Research Assistant, Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Eduardo Fabre

Eduardo Palacios Fabre
Originally from Spain
B.S. Biochemistry 2017
M.S. student, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Stanford University

Helmi Merkhi

Helmi Merkhi
Originally from Tunisia
B.S. Environmental Science 2017, Minor in Chemistry
Working at Environmental Science International (Kailua, HI) and FQLabs (Honolulu, HI)

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Advanced Instrumentation

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Program creates high-impact hands-on training opportunities for the students in our instructional courses. While many universities restrict their advanced scientific instrumentation to research activities, at HPU, we’ve integrated our high-tech instrumentation into our teaching labs, training experienced student mentors to lead and supervise the instructional use of these instruments.

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Pre-Health Professions Concentrations

Our pre-health professions concentrations train students in the most essential chemistry and biochemistry curricula while preparing them for entrance into schools in the health professions. Admissions exams like the MCAT have substantial components covering general, organic, and biochemistry. These topics, along with math, become core areas of strength for chemistry and biochemistry majors who take the MCAT. At the same time, students in this concentration also take the biology courses needed for admissions to medical, pharmacy, veterinary, and dental schools. The program’s unrestricted electives allow students to further tailor their degree plan to complete the required and recommended courses for the professional schools of choice.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

HPU chemistry and biochemistry faculty offer approximately 25 undergraduate biomedical research experiences each year. These students also frequently have the opportunity to present their work at scientific conferences and/or contribute to publications. If you are a Federal Work Study student or just want to volunteer, contact our faculty below to inquire as to whether there are open positions in their labs. One of our most successful student research programs is the INBRE Student Research Experiences (SRE) program. Contact Dr. David Horgen (dhorgen@hpu.edu) or apply at the INBRE SRE website.