By Roadtrip Nation

John Matsui


My road in life has taken me all over.
I grew up in a low income household in the flats of west Berkeley, California.
I struggled through high school for various reasons, including an undiagnosed learning disability.
I graduated with a low GPA that prevented me from going to a four-year university, so I went to community college first and spent three years learning how to learn and fill the gaps from high school.
I transferred to UC Berkeley where I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
After earning my master’s degree, I went to UC Santa Barbara for my Ph.D.
I spent nine years teaching general biology at community college—the experience was great because it taught me how to teach.
I was eventually recruited back to UC Berkeley to help write a grant that would start the Biology Scholars Program.
I currently direct the Biology Scholars Program in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, which has been helping to level the playing field for science students for 30 years now!


High School
Biological Science
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
Science Education
University of California, Santa Barbara


Assistant Dean of Biological Sciences & Director of Biology Scholars Program

I direct a program that makes biology more accessible for all students interested in becoming leaders in science.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Teaching / Mentoring

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Try out different programs to find the support and resources you need to succeed in college and beyond. Remember that what works for one person may not work for you—so it's important to explore and try multiple options. If you can't find something that works for you, build it yourself. You'll get that personalized support and develop valuable life skills through the process. I also recommend finding multiple mentors to support different needs—psychosocial, financial, etc.


The Noise I Shed

From Peers:

"Don't waste your time creating a feel-good program for students that don't even belong at Berkeley in the first place."

Challenges I Overcame

Racial Discrimination
Learning Issues

Interviewed By

Caring Forward

Caring Forward

Meet who's building the future of healthcare