Yinfa Ma, Ph.D.
Curators’ Teaching Professor
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Dr. Yinfa Ma mentors the next generation of chemists and professors. Undergraduate students, doctoral candidates and associate professors all have stories of how Ma’s mentorship directly set them up for their future successes.
A native of rural China, Ma is an expert at helping young, non-native science professors create an engaging classroom environment. Ma is known for observing classes of budding professors and later sharing notes on how they can more effectively teach and engage all the students in their class. Ma’s own passionate teaching style — focused on practical demonstration and meaningful participation — has earned him several teaching awards, including designation as a Curators’ Teaching Professor.
“His kind and gentle manner puts students at ease to the point that the students are not even aware that they are learning,” one nominator wrote. “Yinfa’s classes are a pleasant experience for all. There is laughter in his classrooms and research labs while learning and conquering difficult tasks.”
In addition to mentoring fellow faculty, Ma also takes an invested interest in mentoring graduate students, especially those who may want to take professorships. His teaching assistants study his own effective teaching style while developing their own unique style. He challenges his graduate students to pursue creative approaches to their research and encourages them to present their findings as often as possible. Additionally, beneficiaries of Ma’s mentorship praise his interest in their personal lives as well.
Ma’s passion for his field and for mentoring has supported the careers of many of his colleagues as well as students, whether it is for continued research or teaching.