About the Award
The Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award recognizes excellence in contributing directly and indirectly to student learning through teaching, research, and creative activities; advising; academic program development; and educational leadership.
David Matthes received this award at the Distinguished Teaching Awards ceremony on April 17, 2018.
Each year, the Alumni Association is proud to join the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost in supporting the Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize the outstanding work of U of M educators. Recipients of the awards are inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
About David Matthes
- Teaching Professor
- Department of Biology Teaching and Learning
- College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
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.
His freshman seminar on the human genome developed into the wildly popular Personal Genome Analysis course, one of only three in the country. There, students explore their own genomes and what they reveal about the students’ ancestry and current and future physiology.
A superb mentor, Matthes coaxes all his students into seeing their true potential.
“When he suggested I aim to ‘tackle the big questions in biology,’ he raised the bar I had set for myself as a scientist,” says a student. “He made revolutionary science seem possible.”
“Working with dedicated colleagues, in amazing teaching spaces, and with a freedom to innovate in my teaching has been a tremendous privilege.”
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