Dawson is a graduate teaching assistant in the department of biological sciences and has taught introduction to biology, anatomy and physiology and is teaching general microbiology. He said he strives to establish a personal connection with his students and attempts to learn each of their names.
“That came from my own personal experience with a professor who called me by my name, and I wasn’t just a face in the crowd,” Dawson said. “That totally changed our interaction.”
As a student himself, Dawson is able to relate to those he teaches.
“I too have a lot of stuff going on,” Dawson said. “I have my own labs and exams, so it gets pretty hectic.”
And although he adheres to a rigorous school schedule, Dawson still finds time for fun in his classes.
“For Halloween I dressed up as a microbiology chef,” he said. “I even taught with a spatula during lab.”
Originally from India, Dawson completed both his undergraduate and master’s degrees in his native country. He came to Auburn to earn his doctorate and acquired his nickname shortly after.
“Some of my students started calling me Pauly D,” he said.
Besides his nickname and dark complexion, Dawson couldn’t be further from his Jersey counterpart.
His name doesn’t exactly correlate with his Indian roots either.
“I get that question a lot,” Dawson said. “I’m a Christian, so that’s where Paul comes from.”
As for his last name, Dawson said it resulted from a spelling error.
“My family’s last name used to be Dasan, but it was mispelled on my grandfather’s records,” he said.
Dawson said doing research in the same field in which he is teaching is a huge help in the classroom.
“The most interesting part of my teaching is how I’m able to pass on what I learn in my lab and my research to my students,” Dawson said. “There are things my students are not required to know, but because I’m working on my Ph.D. I know more details, so I just cannot resist telling them about those things.”