MS, Georgia Southern University
After graduating with a major in pathobiology from the University of Connecticut, Michael traveled for six months in southern India to study parasitic diseases of elephants with The Elephant Welfare Association of Kerala. 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 medical entomology. While at Georgia Southern, he was awarded a full research assistantship from The Nature Conservancy. After discovering his love for teaching, Michael taught environmental and general biology 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. Michael described a new species of mite collected from a rare habitat in Georgia, named to honor his friend and distinguished naturalist, Dr. George A. Rogers. 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, with his research focusing on the evolutionary history of chigger mites that transmit diseases to humans in Southeast Asia. He was awarded several grants—one from the National Science Foundation to conduct research at Fudan University in Shanghai, one from Connecticut’s Center for Conservation and Biodiversity to digitize collections at the Natural History Museums in London and Paris, and Harvard University’s Ernst Mayr Travel Award to work at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. 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. Recently, Michael received funding from Taft’s Davis Family Fellowship to travel to the Amazon Rainforest to support Taft’s co-founding of a course on Inquiry, Conservation, & Sustainability in the Amazon. This course, designed for independent school teachers, involves the exploration into the methodology of conservation and sustainability in the rainforest by the indigenous Maijuna living along the Napo River and its tributaries, while using techniques to measure the biodiversity of the forest in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon basin. At Taft, Michael teaches AP Biology and Honors Seminar in Biology where he enjoys blending his experiences from teaching and research to enhance each student’s learning experience.