Pamela Mackay




Pamela Mackay - photo

Office Phone:

760-245-4271, x2467


Bldg 31, Room 20 (check also
room 3 or 11, as I often hold office
hours in those classrooms

Office Hours:

8:45 - 9:30 a.m., Mon. - Thurs.


Pamela Mackay


Professor, Biological Sciences

B.S., California Polytechnic University, Pomona, M.S., California Polytechnic University, Pomona, and ABD (all Ph.D. work completed except dissertation project) at the University of California, Riverside



Education: 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 was not cut out for a medical career, and 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 also 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.  However, 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.  Even though I did not complete the project, taking the Ph.D. coursework has served me well in my career, and I continued taking supplemental classes after that.  Although I haven't taken any additional courses for several years now, I try to keep up in my field by reading scientific journals and attending conferences and seminars regularly. 

Teaching experience:  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, but I did not enjoy the responsibility and wished to focus on teaching.  I mostly teach microbiology and biology majors' courses, and I occasionally teach botany, ecology and genetics. This past spring (2013) I got to teach Health 102 for the PE Department, which was so fun and interesting! I am scheduled to teach this course again in spring of 2014.

Additional Information

Teaching natural history courses has been the highlight of my biology teaching career!   I have taken students on exciting journeys to numerous tropical areas, including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, and Belize.  In 2005 I  went on a trip (not sponsored by VVC) to Malaysia arranged by Dr. Hinrich Kaiser, and in winter of 2011 I traveled to Australia (Queensland area) and New Zealand (south island).  There are many more travel plans in the works, including parts of Europe, South Africa, and Patagonia in South America.