Matthew Dodson's Story


Dr. Matthew Dodson is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arizona. Dodson was a postdoctoral researcher at UArizona for five years until being promoted in January 2021. Working alongside Dr. Donna Zhang, he investigated the mechanisms by which arsenic promotes type II diabetes.

“In Donna’s lab, I was given every opportunity to improve my scientific writing, experimental design, mentoring/teaching, and professional development”

Dodson also said that, “With these enhanced skill sets, I felt ready to take the next step towards independence with my first faculty appointment.” 

Dodson looks back on his years as a postdoc with fondness. He enjoyed the freedom to generate and assess the experimental outcomes of projects that he played a pivotal role in developing. Dodson also gained a true appreciation for the mentoring side of science, and added, “Helping other lab members and students troubleshoot or complete their projects was as rewarding as my own successes.” Dodson’s successes as a postdoc notably include his participation in a multiple PI superfund grant, which gave him the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse array of labs and gain the experience needed to progress toward a faculty appointment. Dodson believes that the collaborations and friendships he developed here at UArizona will persist into his next position. 

Even though his own transition to a faculty role was relatively smooth, Dodson admits that one of the challenges of being a postdoc, and now faculty member, is balancing lab obligations with generating your own independent projects. “I think another challenge with pursuing any academic position in the current job market is that it can take a long time to progress to the next step,” Dodson said. “For me personally, the end goal has always been an independent faculty appointment, and this position is another step in that direction.

"If you are passionate about your career path, take every opportunity that comes your way, and eventually it will work out.”

Dodson recalls Postdoctoral Affairs being instrumental in these efforts; the office’s listserv and seminar opportunities pointed him in the right direction regarding fellowships, grant applications, and personal wellness.   

You can still find Dodson in Zhang’s lab, having already expanded on his postdoc projects, and planning his pursuit of independent funding by generating preliminary data for his own grant applications. He hopes that this position will serve as the final springboard into a full time, tenure track faculty appointment where he can use his previous academic experiences to mentor the next round of grad students and postdocs.