Cam Muir

PhD (Bio),  1998
Bsc (Bio),  1991

Being a student, particularly a graduate student at SFU, allowed this country boy who didn’t finish high school, to make two field trips to the jungles of Borneo and chase after wild orangutans. Cam traveled all over Canada and the US, met and got advice from some of the most creative thinkers of the day. These experiences have only led to more travel and amazing international experiences.

Cam has completed a BSc, and PhD (1998): Dissertation: "The Descendants of our Ancestors: Investigating Population Structure of the Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) Using DNA Sequence and Paleomigration Modeling" in the Biology Department in what was then called the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

In 1999, Cam moved to Hawai`i (University of Hawai`i at Hilo) where he had the opportunity to play a leading role in transforming lab facilities to enable molecular work. Cam has been a PI, Co-PI, or Senior Personnel on over $19 million in grants and studied a wide variety of endangered Hawaiian organisms including: Picture-winged Drosophila; Nene geese; `Opae`ula; and O`opu. His interests have been focused on population structure, ecological genetics, and transcriptomics of adaptation.

In 2010, he took a four year leave from the Biology faculty to work as Associate Dean and then as the Director of the new office of Sustainability spearheading a state-wide (14 campus) Sustainability Council and changing the UH Board of Regents Policy to include sustainability obligations. In 2014, he returned to the faculty from administration.

Traveling with students to places like American Samoa, and Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the "Forbidden Island" of Kaho`olawe and hosting a Study Abroad group from Vancouver has been exciting parts of his work in Hawai`i. He also traveled to New Caledonia and Washington DC to work with other universities to establish new programs and find ways to strengthen existing programs.

In 2001 his wife joined him in Hawai`i and the two of them started growing tea ( They purchased a salad farm, removed most of the commercial greenhouses and planted a forest in which they grew tea as an understory crop using agro-ecological farming methods. In 2010 they debuted thier tea at Harrods, London, UK, where it currently sells for ~$5,000/lb. It has been called one of the best black teas in the world.

Work with agro-ecology on their farm, and with sustainability at the university has drawn his own interest toward sustainable agricultural systems including the effects of environmental influences on expression of genes important to the taste and the health benefits of tea. He also works with colleagues to integrate Western, and Hawaiian Scientific epistemologies to investigate systems approaches to enabling remote community development and small scale food, water, and energy security. They are exploring ways to use ancient Hawaiian farming techniques to use open up farming is areas considered too dry to grow food. They plan to continue working with colleagues in Engineering at Cornell University to integrate low-tech, high efficiency methods to store excess solar PV generated electricity.


Science I Technology


Biological Sciences


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