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Department of Natual Sciences


The mission of the Department of Natural Sciences is to:

  • Offer high-quality instruction in the natural sciences;
  • Prepare students for careers in science-related fields and graduate studies;
  • Improve science education at the pre-college level; and
  • Engage in educational activities that foster greater appreciation and understanding of science in the greater Houston community.


Students are educated using state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and have opportunities to participate in independent research in laboratories at UHD and neighboring research institutions. Areas of research specialization within the Department include environmental sciences, geosciences, polymer chemistry, molecular genetics, and biochemistry. Members of the Department faculty have active collaborations with regional Texas industries and research institutions, as well as colleges in the Departments of Computer and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering Technology at UHD.

The Department is also engaged in international exchange of students with several institutions in Poland, which provide summer-long research opportunities for UHD students.  The Department also participates in the Texas Joint Admissions Medical Program and the NIH-sponsored Minority Access to Research Careers Program.

The Department also supports key community activities such as the Houston Urban Network for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (HUNSTEM).

Contact Information

Department of Natural Sciences
University of Houston-Downtown
One Main Street, Room 813-North
Houston TX 77002, USA

Phone: 713-221-8015
Fax: 713-223-7476

Department Chair: Dr. Lisa Morano
Department Business Administrator: Ms. Andrea Guillory

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Bachelor of Science programs in the Department of Natural Sciences provide both a broad-based curriculum in the Liberal Arts and in a specific discipline in the Natural Sciences. UHD Chemistry degrees have been certified and approved by the American Society for Chemistry (excluding the B.S. in Industrial Chemistry). All degree plans are designed to meet career opportunities in the sciences as well as interests of the student. Students may also declare minors in Bioinformatics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Geology, and Microbiology.

The Department views appropriate field experiences or independent research experiences as an integral part of science education at the baccalaureate level. Students will be encouraged and recruited to participate in these invaluable learning experiences; which are actually required in the Chemistry and Biotechnology degree plans but can be incorporated into all of the other degree plans. Students wishing to get the most of their education in the Natural Sciences should familiarize themselves with the Program Learning Outcomes for baccalaureate degrees in the Natural Sciences (found under the Program Assessment tab).



The Department of Natural Sciences has the following requirements for all science degrees:

  1. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all science courses that could apply toward the degree;
  2. The only transfer credit courses with grades of D that apply toward a degree are first-year non-mathematics and non-science courses;
  3. No more than three credit hours with a grade of D in upper-level science courses may be applied toward the degree;
  4. Students must have at least 18 credit hours of upper-level science from UH-Downtown with a minimum GPA of 2.0 to apply toward the degree; and
  5. Credit for science courses that are more than 10 years old must be approved by the department before they can be applied toward a degree.


The last 25 percent of the semester credit hours of work toward the degree must be taken at UHD. Students who wish to take courses at another college or university, including any other campus of the UH System, and apply the credits earned toward their degrees must request approval through the Natural Science Department. Courses taken without such approval may not be counted toward the fulfillment of the degree requirements. A maximum of 66 hours from a Junior or Community College may be approved as credit toward this degree. All upper-division courses in English, Literature, and History are applicable.  Students must have at least 18 credit hours of upper-level sciences from UHD with a minimum GPA of 2.0 to apply toward this degree.


All degree plans in the Natural Sciences have been modified to conform to new requirements for graduation by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) wherein all baccalaureate degree plans must be reduced to approximately 120 hours, effective Fall Semester, 2009.  Students will have the option of continuing with their previously declared degree plan or declare a new degree plan. All students who are declaring a new degree must fulfill all of the requirements of the new degrees.  Worksheets for the new degree plans are available at the links below or in the Department Office (N813 One Main Building). A cautionary note for all current life science majors, the new degrees in Biology, Biotechnology, and Microbiology now require two semesters of Calculus for Life Sciences (MATH 2411, MATH 2412). See your advisor or degree plan coordinator for more details.




Higher education’s fundamental goal is to prepare its graduates to be highly-skilled analytical citizens in a rapidly changing world. All baccalaureate graduates must learn the skills defined by the General Education Program at UHD (Core Curriculum Requirements). In the sciences, we focus on the intellectual and technical skill sets that are needed to create and analyze new scientific knowledge.  The degree plans for baccalaureate degrees in the Department of Natural Sciences (NS) have defined program learning outcomes that are integrated into the curriculum of its science courses. In the table below are the six program learning outcomes and the degrees that integrate them into curricular degree requirements:


  1. Graduates will have the basic knowledge of the discipline (Basic Knowledge)
  2. Graduates will be able to effectively use the scientific method and scientific reasoning both qualitatively and quantitatively (Scientific Reasoning)
  3. Graduates will have laboratory skills common to modern laboratories (Laboratory Skills)
  4. Graduates will be able to effectively communicate scientific information in writing and in oral presentations (Communication Skills)
  5. Graduates will be able to carry out independent project-based activity (Research and Knowledge Application)
  6. Graduates will be able to work as part of a team (Teamwork)
  7. Graduates will have demonstrated understanding of the ethical standards for the responsible conduct of scientific research and scientific communication (Ethics)


All of the NS Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) are embedded in degree requirements in which an undergraduate research experience is a formal requisite in the Chemistry, Industrial Chemistry and Biotechnology degrees. Every course in the Department has a defined set of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for the class, which describes what the student should know and how the student is expected to demonstrate it.  These SLOs address at least one of the NS PLOs and the course syllabus will indicate as such using the terms in parentheses above.  Check this site in the coming weeks for a Curriculum Map that outlines how course SLOs map to the NS Program Learning Outcomes and the methods used to carry out assessment of the NS PLOs.




The Department of Natural Sciences provides a number of resources for students to manage their curriculum as well as extracurricular resources to enhance their education at UHD:

Curriculum Resources:



Extracurricular Resources:




The Department of Natural Sciences provides a number of special programs that enhance student academic success, provide unique opportunities for independent research, enhancing career opportunities, and service learning:








The faculty of the Department of Natural Sciences participates in a variety of research programs at UHD and in collaboration with colleagues at the major research institutions of the greater Houston area. All of these research activities involve undergraduate students engaged in independent research projects. In addition, research opportunities are available for UHD undergraduates in biotechnology and geosciences laboratories in Poland.



For information on extramural funding awarded to faculty see:





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Last updated or reviewed on 3/13/14

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