Pam MacKay's Background Information
I earned two Bachelor of Science Degrees from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. After receiving the first one in Biological Sciences in 1975, I went to work for a podiatrist. However, I soon discovered that I really wanted to spend more time outside. Also, I knew from the time I was very young that I wanted to study plants, and being a podiatrist's assistant did not leave much time to do this, so I went back to school and two quarters later earned the second B.S. degree in Botany. I returned to Cal Poly a few years later and earned my Master of Science Degree in Biological Sciences. After teaching part-time at community colleges for six years, I enrolled in the Ph.D. program in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California at Riverside. I completed all of the course work, and I passed the written exams in 1992. By this time I had received an Natural Reserve System grant for a dissertation project, which involved studying the effects of introduced weeds on some native annual plant species at the UC Motte-Rimrock Reserve. In 1992 I landed a full-time position at VVC, and I soon realized what a tremendous amount of work and time it took to prepare for VVC classes and do a good job. I did not have enough time to devote to the job, my children, and my dissertation, so I eventually terminated the project and my Ph.D. program. I would like to finish my Ph.D. some day, but it may have to wait quite a while.
I taught laboratory sections for general biology, botany, and microbiology all through graduate school. I have been teaching at VVC as a full-time instructor since 1992, and I am now a full professor. I also served as the Biology Department Chair for several years. I mostly teach microbiology and biology majors' courses, and I occasionally teach botany, ecology and genetics. Nearly every year I organize and teach natural history courses in tropical countries, including Costa Rica and Belize. Last year I participated in a trip (not sponsored by VVC) to Malaysia arranged by Dr. Hinrich Kaiser. This June the VVC class is going to Peru. We still have room for a few more students, so contact me as soon as possible if you are interested.