Meet Our Staff

Robert Kao

Robert Kao

Associate Professor

Natural Science

Arts and Sciences Center

Phone: (509) 865-8681

Ext: 2333


Courses Taught

  • Genetics and Lab, BIOL 318W and 318L
  • Developmental Biology and Lab, BIOL 430 and 430L
  • Internship, BIOL 490
  • Applied Bioinformatics, BIOL 390
  • Molecular and Cell Biology and Lab, BIOL 330W and 330L
  • General Biology and Lab, BIOL 111 and 111L

Education and Degrees

Doctorate: PhD — Major: Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology — Location: Harvard University — Date: 2012
Master's Degree: Masters of Arts — Major: Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology — Location: Harvard University — Date: 2010
Bachelor's Degree: Bachelor of Science — Major: Biology — Location: Boston College — Date: 2005
Robert M. Kao is an Assistant Professor in Biology at Heritage University, and is also a member of the Native Education Certificate Program at the University of Washington (2016-2018 cohort). Dr. Kao is a former University of Washington Teaching Scholars at the School of Medicine, and was a former postdoctoral fellow at Seattle Children's Research Institute. While a fellow and teaching scholar, Dr Kao also taught as a lecturer on Genetics of Disease at Seattle University during the Spring of 2016. He earned his doctorate degree in molecular, cell and developmental biology at Harvard University in 2012, and earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from Boston College in 2005.

Professional Experience

Position: Fellow, Seattle Children's Research Institute
Start Date: 4/1/2013 End Date: 6/30/2016
Company: Seattle Children's Hospital

Position: Teaching Scholar, University of Washington School of Medicine
Start Date: 9/1/2015 End Date: 6/15/2016
Company: University of Washington School of Medicine

Position: Adjunct Instructor, Seattle University
Start Date: 3/28/2016 End Date: 5/19/2016


Member of the Center for Leadership and Innovation in Medical Education, as well as Native Education Certificate Program from 2016-2018. His genetics and epigenetics teachings as a UW teaching scholar were supported by the Friends of FSH Research between 2015-2016, and these have been integrated into the genetics curriculum at Heritage University. Dr Kao is also the principal investigator of National Science Foundation funded Heritage University Research Experiences for Undergraduates (HU REU), providing HU undergraduates opportunities to conduct an intensive ten week research experience in leading research institutions across the state of Washington.

Special Interests

Dr Kao has a strong interest in the following: science education research, place based education, social-emotional learning, folkbiology, innovations in teaching molecular genetics and developmental biology, curriculum design, and developing inclusive classroom and lab settings and research opportunities for first-generation Hispanic students from central Washington, as well as students from the Yakama Nation.

Community Engagement

Science in the Classroom: Expanding the limits of optical resolution

Faculty Member, Project NANO Tri Cities
Faculty Member, Foldscope & Portable Global Fluorescent Microscope science outreach (partnership with Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice University)

Research Interests

Science education research and outreach, community-based research, and molecular and cellular mechanisms of C. elegans, Tetrahymena, and planarian adaptations in the changing environment.

Publications and Professional Affiliations

Publication: Robert M Kao
Title: Inter-blocking: Integrating a Process of Inquiry Mindset into Medical Education
Date Published: 6/10/2016

Publication: Robert M Kao, Joel Rurik, Gist H Farr III, Xiu Rong Dong, Mark W Majesky, and Lisa Maves
Title: Pbx4 is required for the temporal onset of zebrafish myocardial differentiation.
Date Published: 11/5/2015

Publication: Robert M Kao
Title: Traffic Jam Response: Hands-on activities to explore consequences of artery road blocks.
Date Published: 10/1/2015

Publication: Robert M Kao
Title: Of Heart & Kidneys: Hands-on activities for demonstrating organ function & repair
Date Published: 10/1/2014

Publication: Robert M Kao
Title: Helping Students SOAR: Quizfolio Tips to Engauge First Generation Underrepresented Minority Undergraduates in Scientific Inquiry
Organization: American Biology Teacher, CourseSource open-access, Journal of Visualized Experiments journal reviewer

Organization: Project NANO-Tri Cities faculty member

Organization: Society for Developmental Biology, member

Organization: American Society for Cell Biology, member

Organization: Native Education Certificate Program & University of Washington School of Medicine Center for Leadership and Innovation in Medical Education, member