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May Daher Farhat


Contact Info:
Campus: McNichols Campus
Building: Chemistry
Room: 07
Phone: (313) 993-1805


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan, 2016
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Wayne State University, 2012
  • Bachelor of Science, Lebanese University, 2001


As a biochemist educator, I have a common set of student learning objectives in all the courses that I teach. These objectives include: First, students are to be treated fairly and equitably, especially in grading and time allocation. Thus, I make a concerted effort to be as transparent as possible in assigning scores to questions, for example, and provide detailed explanations of decisions so that students don’t feel unfairly treated. Second, students need to be able to understand basic principles relevant to the course being taught; learn the importance and applicability of the material; understand how chemistry and biological knowledge is gained through research and how this information is accessed from the scientific literature; and develop critical thinking skills so that they can make predictive hypotheses and interpret new information in light of existing knowledge. I feel particularly strongly about two main responsibilities I have to my students: 1) I must help the student develop of a depth of knowledge in the subject matter. 2) I must address students’ questions as novice learners. Therefore, if I have only a passing familiarity with a particular concept I make a strong effort to better learn it before teaching, and predict and prepare the types of questions students might ask. To make the teaching–learning process more effective, I strive to maintain a comfortable class environment where the students feel encouraged to interact and ask questions. I frequently ask questions during my class to engage students and encourage their participation. Ultimately, this active engagement maximizes students’ interest in learning.

Research Interests:

RNA-cleaving DNAzymes are catalytically active DNA molecules. DNAzymes have revealed significant attention to therapeutic and diagnostic applications due to its stability and activity. Previous studies have shown a powerful effect of correct hybridization of DNAzymes to their substrates. My overarching goal is to understand the mechanism of the nucleic acids enzymes (DNAzymes) under near cellular conditions using bulk-solution biochemical and biophysical tools. In particular, I will employ fluorescence techniques to study in real-time the kinetic mechanisms of these DNAzymes, in bulk solution and at the single-molecule level. I will combine state-of-the-art chemical, molecular biological, and biophysical approaches.

Teaching Experience:

At UM-Ann Arbor, I taught as an instructor:

CHM 130: A general chemistry introductory course to the principles of chemistry. This General Chemistry course provides an introduction to the major concepts of chemistry.

CHEMBIO 501: This graduate-level course is divided into three sections: 1) proteins structure, 2) enzymology and 3) nucleic acid folding and function. I was responsible for the section focused on nucleic acid folding and function. For this course, I prepared course material, presentation slides, lectured, prepared and graded exams.

At Wayne State University, I taught as a teaching assistant:

CHM1000: Facts and theories from analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, and from biochemistry; their consequences in life processes and the environment

CHM1020: Matter and energy in chemistry, chemical symbols and equations, structure and properties of atoms, introduction to chemical bonding; periodicity in chemistry, solids, liquids, gases, solutions, acids and bases, and equilibrium

CHM1030: Introduction to organic chemistry, emphasizing classes of compounds important in biochemical processes; survey of biochemistry with applications to nutrition, physiology, and clinical chemistry; protein structure; intermediary metabolism; molecular biology; and metabolic regulation

CHM1230: Laboratory course to introduce the scientific method, properties of materials, the role of energy, structure and spectroscopy

At Lebanese public schools, Southern Lebanon.

I taught as a Science teacher for seven, eight and nine grades.


  1. M. Daher and D. Rueda (2012) Fluorescence Characterization of the tRNA-like Domain of tmRNA in Complex with SmpB. Biochemistry (2012) 51(17): 3531-8.
  2. Bartke RMCameron ELCristie-David ASCuster TCDenies MSDaher M, Dhakal, S, Ghosh SHeinicke LAHoff JDHou Q,Kahlscheuer MLKarslake JKrieger AGLi JLi XLund PEVo NNPark JPitchiaya SRai VSmith DJSuddala KCWang JWidom JRWalter NG. SMART timing-principles of single molecule techniques course at the University of Michigan 2014. Biopolymers. (2015) 103(5): 296-302. doi: 10.1002/bip.22603
  3. M. Daher, Anthony Mustoe, Alexander Morriss-Andrews, Charles Brooks III and Nils Walter. Tuning RNA folding and function through rational design of junction topology. Nucleic Acids Research (2017). doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx614
  4. M. Daher, J. R. Widom, W. Tay and Nils G. Walter. Soft interactions with model crowders and non-canonical interactions with cellular proteins stabilize RNA folding. Journal of Molecular Biology. (2017) Submitted and under revision
  5. M. Daher and M. Benvenuto, Aspirin Synthesis: A New, Inexpensive Twist on an Old Favorite. MSTA Journal (2017)
  6. M. Daher, M. Miller, A. Buskirk and D. Rueda. Ribosome Rescue System at the Single Molecule-level, in preparation.
  7. M. Daher, P. Cunningham and D. Rueda. Single Molecule Dynamics of tRNA inside Ribosomes, in preparation
  8. Paul Lund, M. Daher and Nils G. Walter. S1 unties the pseudoknot: Mechanistic insights into S1-mediated unfolding of RNA tertiary structure, in preparation

Grants and Awards:

  • RNA Society Travel award, Ann Arbor, Michigan (2012)
  • Summer Dissertation Fellowship, Wayne State University (2011)
  • Departmental Travel award, Wayne State University (2011)
  • Best Poster Award, Graduate Student Symposium, Wayne State University (2008)
  • Member of RNA Society, 2009, 2012
  • Member of Alpha Lambda Delta
  • Member of Phi Kappa Phi
  • Member of American Chemistry Society
  • Organizer for Graduate Student Symposium, Wayne State University (2009)
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