MS, Georgia Southern University
After graduating with a major in pathobiology from the University of Connecticut, Michael traveled for six months in India to study parasitic diseases of elephants with the Elephant Welfare Association. This research led him to publish the first report of a previously undescribed life cycle of the tapeworm that parasitizes elephants. Michael then earned his Master of Science in biology from Georgia Southern University (home of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Tick Collection), concentrating his studies on public health entomology. While at Georgia Southern, he was awarded a full research assistantship from The Nature Conservancy and chose to teach environmental and general biology. After discovering his love for teaching, Michael continued to do so while completing his research. His accomplishments were acknowledged with several awards while at Georgia Southern, including The Academic Excellence Award and the Georgia Entomological Society Scholarship. After returning to Connecticut, Michael was employed at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in the West Nile Virus surveillance program. He was admitted into the Ph.D. program in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, majoring in entomology. Michael is currently earning his degree, studying the evolutionary history of chigger mites that transmit diseases to humans in Southeast Asia. He has been awarded several grants—one from the National Science Foundation to conduct collaborative research at Fudan University in Shanghai, one from Connecticut’s Center for Conservation and Biodiversity to digitize collections at the British and Paris Museums, and Harvard University’s Ernst Mayr Award. Michael recently published a description of a new species of mite collected from a rare habitat in Georgia, named to honor his friend and distinguished naturalist, George A. Rogers. Michael has also served as editor and reviewer for several scientific journals, and he has designed scientific software, databases, and web pages for various institutions. While at the University of Connecticut, he taught a number of courses, including biology for majors and non-majors and entomology. Michael enjoys blending his experiences abroad, teaching, and his research to enhance each student’s learning experience at Taft. He lives in Watertown with his wife, Stacey.