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Zachary Carico

Headshot of Zachary Carico

Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Faculty Adviser: Michael S. Krangel


Zachary Carico joined the Ph.D. program in immunology in 2010 after graduating from Davidson College with a B.S. in biology. His research focuses on the role of chromatin conformation in regulation of Tcra/Tcrd recombination. He is a recipient of a T32 Training Award through the National Institutes of Health.

For the past two years, Carico has served as a teaching assistant for Pillars of Immunology, a readings course for first-year graduate students that is chiefly run by senior graduate students in the program. Outside of the class, Carico also provides extensive mentorship to junior graduate students as they prepare for their demanding preliminary exams. He was appointed a Student Representative for his department as well as a member of the Student-Postdoc-Faculty committee, serving as a student-faculty liaison and advocate for his peers through these roles. In addition to his work with graduate students, Carico has also mentored a Davidson undergraduate through the Duke-Davidson Immunology Partnership.


“The first quality a great mentor should have is a willingness to admit their limitations, both to themselves and to the person they are mentoring. … You have to understand yourself, and you want your mentee to understand that just because you are a mentor, that doesn’t make you an absolute expert.”

On Mentoring People with Different Learning Styles
On the Importance of Informal Mentoring


“My favorite quality about Zach is that he doesn’t simply answer my questions, but rather he helps to guide my thinking in such a manner that I can come to the conclusion on my own. Zach is truly an incredible mentor: highly intelligent, skillful in teaching information to others, patient, enthusiastic, personable, and invested in my success.”

“Leading up to the preliminary exam date, I talked to Zach every day about my doubts, and his calm counsel allayed my fears and buoyed my confidence. This was a far more important act of mentorship than any other academic mentorship that I had received. On the day of the exam, I was in my office cramming more information into my presentation when Zach came to find me. He took me to lunch and just sat with me—we did not talk about anything important, but he knew that was what I needed. ”

“Originally, I did not consider myself a competitive applicant for grad schools, but talking with Zach helped me deconstruct my motivations and confront weaknesses in my resolve. By assuaging my fears, he helped me to find confidence and excitement for the application process, and I am very grateful for that.”