Melissa Pilling

Academic Tutor

I was born and raised in Silicon Valley and attended Saint Francis High School and Monta Vista High School. Throughout high school, I struggled in biology and chemistry classes, and it wasn’t until I attended Sonoma State University that things started to “click.” I started to really enjoy science courses and began to learn how to better prepare and study for challenging subjects. 

While initially my intended major was in Pre-Med/Pre-Nursing, I decided to change my major to a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and physiology. It was at Sonoma State that I became interested in biological research and volunteered with Hospice as a caregiver, gained certification as a pharmacy technician, volunteered in various hospital departments, and worked in research labs both on and off campus conducting experiments in eco-physiology and genetics. I completed my master’s program at San Jose State University in molecular and microbiology, and I worked in both a cancer biology and gene therapy research laboratory. I earned multiple grants and scholarships to help fund my research thesis and attended two national conferences to present my research for the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

After graduate school, I worked in the biotechnology industry. I began as a part of the gene editing team at PACT Pharma, a clinical stage immuno-oncology company based in South San Francisco. During my time at PACT, I assisted in growing a start-up company and helped with a clinical trial and research that eventually led to a publication in the scientific journal Nature. I then joined Sangamo Therapeutics as a part of the Upstream Process Development team, working to improve and optimize gene editing strategies and helping to better characterize rAAV therapeutics. However, I chose to step back from the biotechnology industry to focus on teaching and the rewarding work I do with students.

I taught undergraduate biology lab courses while completing my master’s, and I have privately tutored students of all levels in grades 4-12 in biology and chemistry. In addition, I have been a content editor for CK-12 Foundation in Palo Alto, helping to edit and create high school biology and chemistry FlexBook textbook resources and multimedia content for study guides, review questions, graphic images, and informational pictures and videos. I enjoy helping students develop their confidence and find a passion for science. I want my students to learn how to study for these classes, appreciate the material, and hone the skills they need to succeed in their goals. 

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, exploring new restaurants, hiking, and playing pickleball.

Subjects Tutored:

Academic Biology
Academic Chemistry
Academic K-8
AP Biology
AP Chemistry


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