David J. Matthes

Teaching Professor, Biology Teaching and Learning

David J. Matthews, with conventional haircut and glasses an checked shirt, gestures with right arm.

When David Matthes teaches, students get involved in biology—literally, and right from the start. In his basic biology course, students use what they’ve learned to design a genetically modified organism, and in his cell biology course they design therapies to target specific cells. For many students, that’s just the beginning. 

“When I left his cell biology class, not only was I hungry to pursue more upper-level science classes to challenge myself with, but my interest in reading and writing more widely about science was freshly fueled,” says one student.

Matthes created the University’s first course in bioinformatics analysis, in which each student chooses a human gene of unknown function and spends the semester characterizing the gene and its RNA and protein products. The students end up likely knowing more about their gene or protein than anyone else in the world.

Working with dedicated colleagues, in amazing teaching spaces, and with a freedom to innovate in my teaching has been a tremendous privilege.-David J. Matthes

His freshman seminar on the human genome developed into the wildly popular Personal Genome Analysis course, one of only three in country. There, students explore their own genomes and what they reveal about the students’ ancestry and current and future physiology. 

A superb mentor, he coaxes all his students into seeing their true potential.

“He raised the bar I had set for myself as a scientist,” says a student. “He made revolutionary science seem possible.”