Dominic Mao, Molecular and Cellular Biology Lecturer and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies for Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB) and MCB, has been voted one of the senior class’s favorite professors in the 2024 yearbook. This is the third time Mao has received this honor, having previously been nominated in 2019 and 2021.
“Interacting with the Harvard Undergraduate Community is the best part of my job,” says Mao. “It is gratifying to be able to provide helpful information and guidance to support students’ academic and personal growth. I am fortunate to be able to have frank discussions on a wide variety of topics and gain new perspectives from my students.”
Mao joined Harvard as a postdoc in the Meselson lab in 2012 after earning his PhD in microbial molecular genetics from University of Cincinnati. He began teaching as a preceptor in 2015, and lecturer in 2017, when he also took up the mantle of Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies for CPB and MCB. In 2018, he founded the Program for Scientifically Inspired Leadership (PSIL), which exposes high school students in India to the liberal arts and sciences philosophy.
“Dominic is one of Harvard’s gems, as both a teacher and advisor,” says Adam E Cohen, co-director of Undergraduate Studies (CPB). “In his interactions with students, he approaches each as a complex individual, providing pragmatic advice that takes into account the whole person.”
“Dominic is tremendously honest and down to earth. He doesn’t sugar coat, so my guess (because I don’t have actual data) is that the students respect him for his very high level of integrity,” says Sam Kunes, Director of Undergraduate Studies (MCB).
Mao is honored that students enjoy his teaching, even when the subject matter is complicated. “The course I teach (MCB 60: Cellular Biology and Molecular Medicine) has a reputation among students to be challenging. Indeed, the learning curve is steep and students have to work hard to succeed, but we provide a lot of support, and graduating seniors admit they learned a lot in the course,” says Mao. “To be nominated with this honor despite the reputation of my course suggests I am doing some things right.”