Marlene J. Mayo received her master's and doctoral degrees in East Asian History, specializing in modern Japan, from Columbia University. She has been the recipient of Fulbright grants to Britain and to Japan. Other awards include Ford Foundation Foreign Area Training Fellowships; National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Japan Research Award, Social Science Research Council; and research grants, University of Maryland. She has been honored by the Association for Asian Studies as Distinguished Lecturer and by the National Honors Society, Phi Kappa Phi, as Faculty Mentor. She edited The Emergence of Imperial Japan, including translations; and co-edited, with an introduction, War, Occupation, and Creativity: Japan and East Asia. In addition, she has published over twenty articles or book chapters on modern Japan, including: "To Be or Not to Be: Kabuki and Cultural Politics in Occupied Japan;" "The Occupation Years, 1945-1952;" "Balancing Differences: Eugene Dooman and U.S.-Japan Economic Relations, 1933-1939" (in Japanese); "Literary Reorientation in Occupied Japan: Incidents of Civil Censorship;" "American Wartime Planning for Occupied Japan: The Role of the Experts;" "The Western Education of Kume Kunitake, 1871-1876;" "The Korean Crisis of 1873 and Early Meiji Foreign Policy;" and "Rationality in the Restoration."
Her current research focuses on cultural politics in Occupied Japan and on the process of reconciliation in the aftermath of total war. She has created an extensive teaching and research website: "Occupied Japan, 1945-1952: Gender, Class, Race," as a Fellow of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. Professor Mayo has been member and chair of the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies; member of the national program committees of the Association for Asian Studies and the American Historical Association; chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Modern Japan; and founder and chair of the Washington and Southeast Regional Seminar on Japan. She has appeared several times on both local and Japanese television. At the University of Maryland, she co-founded the Committee on East Asian Studies (now a Center), served several times as chair, and established the Undergraduate Certificate Program in East Asian Studies. She has been active in raising funds from government and private sources for the University libraries and for expansion of East Asian Studies. She has also coordinated the Honors Program, History Department, and initiated the 20th Century Japan Research Awards for use of Maryland's Gordon W. Prange and East Asian Collections. She has recently served on the Executive Committee to administer a grant from the Freeman Foundation for expansion of undergraduate initiatives in East Asian Studies and acted as co-chair of two curriculum transformation summer institutes for Maryland faculty. She has organized and moderated major symposia and workshops at Maryland, including "We the People: Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Japan's Constitution;" "Violent Endings, New Beginnings," commemorating the end of World War II in the Pacific and East Asia, co-sponsored by the National Archives; "Intersections: Race, Class, and Gender in Occupied Japan;" and "The Maryland Workshop on Science, Technology, and Society in East Asia."
In 2009, she was elected president of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Association for Asian Studies.