Faculty Friday: Meet Dr. Kyle MacLea

Friday, December 7, 2018

People looking into a microscope

Since joining the UNH Manchester faculty in 2014, Dr. Kyle MacLea has made it his mission to give students research experience in areas that interest them. A member of the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching, MacLea focuses on allowing students to pursue experiments that reflect their individual career goals and scientific curiosity, inside and outside the classroom.

MacLea, assistant professor of biological sciences and biotechnology, knew he wanted a career in the sciences since he was a student at Londonderry High School. After graduating in 1993, he enrolled at Cornell University to study biology. During his time at Cornell, he interned at the Londonderry-based Diatide Research Laboratories, where he studied short peptide agents used to screen for human diseases. That sparked his interest in biotechnology and led him to a research position at the Cornell pharmacology lab. That experience led him to the pharmacology and toxicology department at Dartmouth College, where he later earned his Ph.D.

Working in the lab at Dartmouth College sparked MacLea’s interest in working with students on research and inspired his experiential learning-focused teaching philosophy. MacLea teaches courses in the areas of molecular biology and microbiology at UNH Manchester, and he was integral to the development of the college’s biotechnology program.

In addition to teaching, MacLea is an active researcher of prions and amyloids in yeast and human disease, microbial genetics and the biology of molting and limb regeneration in decapod crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and crayfish.

What do you like best about your job?

I love being able to show students real scientific discovery in the classroom and in the lab.  And then I love when students turn around and make their own discoveries. 

What is your favorite UNH Manchester memory? 

There are so many.  I remember walking into the microbiology lab for the first time as a UNH faculty member when we were still at 400 Commercial Street. The lab was a little awkward with long rows of student workstations and not enough room to maneuver between seats, but it was focused on just my area of expertise, and I was going to have the privilege of being the one to teach my first group of students their microbiology foundational skills. It never gets old!

Tell us your favorite:

  • Manchester restaurant: Cotton (they were neighbors in our old building, and where I had my interview lunch when I visited in 2014)
  • New Hampshire destination: Odiorne Point State Park
  • Book: The Lord of the Rings
  • Movie: The Princess Bride
  • Childhood book: Bridge to Terabithia
  • Childhood TV show:  I thought “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” was hilarious at the time.  I don’t think anyone remembers it but me.

What are your hobbies? 

Running, hiking and chasing my three children 5 and under around!

Best vacation ever? 

Honeymoon in Iceland!

We’d be surprised to know that… 

I would love to have a species of bacterium named after me.  Actually, most of you would probably NOT be surprised to know that.

Which 3 famous people, living or dead, would you want at your fantasy dinner party?

Too many to list.  I’ll give you four from different areas…George Washington, Jesus, Louis Pasteur and Charles Darwin.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up? 

First a firefighter, and then, an entomologist!