David Matthes headshot
Office Address

515 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States



Teaching Professor
Biology Teaching and Learning

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Research interests

Semaphorin gene family of axon guidance molecules; Genetic analysis Drosophila Semaphorin 2a function by generating and characterizing loss-of-function and gain-of-function phenotypes; Gunctional dissection of the semaphorin domain using P-element mediated germline transformation; Axon guidance and the foundation for future work on inhibitory molecules in neural development; Viral semaphorins in vaccinia and variola viruses; Viral semaphorins modulating the migration of human leukocytes; Human semaphorin capability of acting as a strong chemoattractant for T cells; Semaphorins within the mouse thymus as guidance molecules during thymic development.

Selected publications

Jay, K., Mitra, A., Harding, T., Matthes, D.J., and Van Ness, B. (2019) Identification of a de novo FOXP1 mutation and incidental discovery of inherited genetic variants contributing to a case of ASD and epilepsy. Submitted to Molecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine.

Wick, S., Decker, M., Matthes, D., and Wright, R. (2013). Students propose genetic solutions to societal problems. Science 341: 1467-1468.

Linder, G.E., Chuntova, P.D., McLelland, B.T., Ano L., Obodo, U.C, Crider, N.J., Matthes, D.J., Garcia-Ojeda, M., Manilay, J.O., and Chatterjea, D. (2013). Semaphorins 4A is dynamically regulated during thymocyte development in mice. Cellular Immunology 281(2): 150-158.

Brooker, R., Couch, B., Matthes, D., Wassenberg, D., Wick, S., and Wright, R. (2013). SCALE-UP in an Introductory Biology Course. Chapter in Connected Science: Strategies for Integrative Learning in College, ed. Ferrett, T.A., Geelan, D. Schlegal, W.M. and Steward, J.L. Indiana University Press.

Matthes, D.J. Beheshti, S., Chalasani, S. Mayoral, S. (2001) In situ analysis of the expression of murine semaphorins 3B and 4A, and plexin-family semaphorin receptors in lymphoid tissues. The FASEB Journal 15 (4), A329.

Matthes, D.J. (2000). Problems and Solutions for Strachan and Read’s Human Molecular Genetics. Bios Scientific Publishers (Oxford, UK)

Matthes, D., French, A., Wu. M, and Ruiz, A (1999). Modulation of leukocyte migration by human and viral semaphorins. The FASEB Journal 13, A1134. Presented at FASEB 99, Washington, D.C. (April 17-21, 1999)

Chinnici, J. and Matthes, D. (1998). Genetics: Practice Problems and Solutions. Addison Wesley Longman (Menlo Park, CA).

Goodman, C.S., Kolodkin, A.L., Matthes, D.J., Bentley, D.R., O’Conner, T.O. (Sept 15, 1998). Semaphorin Gene Family. U.S. Patent #5,807,826.

Matthes, D.J., Sink, H., Kolodkin, A.L., and Goodman, C.S. (1995). Semaphorin II can function as a selective inhibitor of synaptic arborizations. Cell 81 (4), 631-639.

Kolodkin, A.L, Matthes, D.J., and Goodman, C.S. (1993). The semaphorin genes encode a family of transmembrane and secreted growth cone guidance molecules. Cell 75 (7), 1389-1399.

Kolodkin, A.L, Matthes, D.J., O'Conner, T., Patel, N.H., Admon, A., Bentley, D., and Goodman, C.S. (1992). Fasciclin IV: sequence, expression, and function in the grasshopper embryo. Neuron 9 (5), 831-845.

Education and background

Degrees earned

  • PhD, UC Berkeley (molecular and cell biology) 1989-1995, adviser: Corey S. Goodman (genetics & neurobiology), thesis title:  The semaphorin gene family and axon pathfinding
  • MS, Stanford University (biology) 1988
  • BA, Stanford University (human biology - with distinction) 1983-1987, adviser:  Marion E. Smith (neurochemistry)

BioSketch | Curriculum Vitae

For additional information about Professor Matthes, including publications, courses taught, and teaching resources available for download, please visit this site: http://www.davidmatthes.com/

Teaching statement

My goal is to be the most transformative educator and effective facilitator of student learning that I can be. I aspire for my students to achieve outstanding learning gains, to develop the personal and professional skills required for success at the highest level in biology-related careers, and to develop a deep and enduring interest in biology as a discipline. I recognize the power of team-based learning, active learning strategies more broadly, authentic research experiences within courses, and leveraging both universal and student-specific interests to increase student motivation and effort. Finally, I understand that learning is fundamentally about making connections so aim to help my students create powerful connections between their existing experience and the subjects that it is my privilege to teach.

Favorite teaching innovation/approach

Team-based learning with authentic projects.

Courses taught

Undergraduate courses

  • Freshman seminar: Genome (Biol 1905 [UMN: Fall ‘13)
  • Foundations in biology (Biol 2002 [UMN])
  • Cell biology (GCD 4004 [UMN])
  • Bioinformatic analysis (GCD 3485, formerly Biol 4950 [UMN])
  • Directed reading: Effectiveness of active learning strategies [UMN: Spring ‘13]
  • Directed reading: Microarray analysis [UMN: Spring ‘12]
  • Cell biology and genetics II laboratory (Biol 205 [Macalester])
  • Seminar in stem cell biology (Biol 394 [Macalester])
  • Cellular and molecular neuroscience (Biol 356 [Macalester])
  • Bioinformatics (Biol 394 [Macalester])
  • Molecular biology for computer scientists (Biol 96C [San Jose State University])
  • Scientific writing (Biol 100W [San Jose State University])
  • General genetics with seminar (Biol 115 [San Jose State University])
  • Genetics laboratory (Biol 116L, formerly Biol 115L [San Jose State University])
  • Introduction to bioinformatics (Biol 121 [San Jose State University])
  • Bioinformatics I (Biol 123A crosslisted as CS 123A [San Jose State University])
  • Bioinformatics II (Biol 123B crosslisted as CS 123B [San Jose State University])
  • Molecular cell biology laboratory (Biol 135L [San Jose State University])

Graduate courses

  • Preparing future faculty I (Grad 8101 [UMN])
  • Seminar in advanced genetics:  bioinformatics (Biol 215 [San Jose State University])
  • Seminar in advanced genetics:  gene therapy (Biol 215 [San Jose State University])
  • Bioinformatics (Biol 221 and Biol 221T [San Jose State University])
  • Advanced seminar in biology:  evolution (Biol 255M [San Jose State University])
  • Advanced seminar in biology:  cell motility and targeting (Biol 255M [San Jose State University])

Recent presentations, invited seminars and workshops

Matthes, D.J. (2014) Beginning activities for the exploration of your genome. Illumina‘s 8th Understand Your Genome meeting, Minneapolis, MN. May 19-20. [Workshop]

Matthes, D.J. (2013) Students use their own genome as text for an undergraduate biology seminar. American Society for Cell Biology, New Orleans, LA. Dec 14-18, 2013 .

Matthes, D.J. (2012). Nanoparticle-based cell-targeting therapeutic systems: a golden opportunity for innovation in cell biology. The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA. December 15-18, 2012.

Wick, S.M., Wright, R., Matthes, D.J. (2012). Rising to the Challenge of “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education”. The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA. December 15-18, 2012.

Matthes, D.J., Wick, S.M. and Chatterjea, D. (2012). Scaffolded research proposal projects bring intro biology students into the community of science. American Association of Colleges and Universities STEM education meeting, St. Louis, Missouri. November 10, 2012. [Platform presentation]

Matthes, D.J. (2011). Converting a senior-level cell biology course to a fully active learning format. The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Annual Meeting. Denver, CO. December 3-7, 2011.

Wick, S. and Matthes, D.J. (2011). Achieving true teamwork in student course teams. The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Annual Meeting. Denver, CO. December 3-7, 2011.

Matthes, D.J. and Wick, S. (2011). The importance of moving around: Bringing the collaborative create-apply-evaluate process to the whiteboard. The National Forum on Improving Education in Active Learning Classroom Spaces. Minneapolis, MN. August 4-6, 2011.

Matthes, D.J. (2014) Foundations Style. Workshop on active learning strategies for secondary school teachers. University of Minnesota, MN. July 31, 2014.

Matthes, D.J. (2014) Genome: a course where students explore variants in their own genome sequence. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Feb. 26, 2014.

Matthes, D.J. (2014) Applying active learning strategies to biology courses in a flipped classroom environment. University of Wisconsin, Stout, Menemonie, WI. Feb. 5, 2014.

Matthes, D.J. (2014) Teaching in UMN ALC spaces. University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. Jan. 23, 2014.

Matthes, D.J. and Wick, S. (2013) The transformation of teaching and learning in active learning classrooms. Macalester College, St Paul, MN. Oct. 2, 2013.

Matthes, D.J. (2012) The transformation of teaching and learning in active learning classrooms. Central Michigan State University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, March 22, 2013.

Professional experience

  • Associate Professor, Teaching, Dept. of Biology Teaching and Learning; Dept. of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota 2008-present
  • Visiting Assoc. Professor, Biology, Macalester College 2007-2008
  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences (genetics), San Jose State Univ. 2002-2007
  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences (genetics), San Jose State Univ. 1995-2002

Professional service

  • Editorial Board, Bioscene (Journal of the Association of College and University Educators) (2008-present)
  • Reviewed grant proposals in genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, and bioinformatics for National Institutes of Health, Minority Biomedical Research Support program (2000-2006)
  • Reviewed Curricular and Laboratory Infrastructure grant proposals for the National Science Foundation (2002)
  • Reviewed genetics and bioinformatics book proposals for the MIT Press, Benjamin-Cummings, and WH Freeman.


  • NIH-MBRS Sept 1, 1998 - Aug 30, 2005. Federal funding to support the investigation semaphorins as immunomodulatory molecules.
  • Exelixis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. July 1, 1996 – June 30, 1998. Private funding to support the investigation of viral semaphorins as immunomodulatory molecules.