Born and raised in Wyoming, Michael obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. There he won both the University of Wyoming Outstanding Dissertation Award and the Sara Jane Rhoads Award for Outstanding Research for the Ph.D. Degree in Chemistry. Upon completing his graduate studies, Michael accepted a postdoctoral research position in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Virginia. Michael’s research focused on environmentally and industrially important catalytic processes, from the desulfurization of petroleum feedstocks and the conversion of natural gas to liquid fuels to the selective oxidation of aromatic compounds. Published accounts of his chemical research can be found in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, and Organometallics.
Michael's educational development research is broad and has focused on teaching consultation techniques, graduate student professional development, course design initiatives, and the impact intense instructional development activities have on teacher beliefs and practices. Published accounts of his work can be found in:
- To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development
- Practically Speaking: A Sourcebook for Instructional Consultants in Higher Education (2nd Ed, 2012; editor Kate Brinko)
- New Directions for Teaching and Learning
- Studies in Graduate and Professional Student Development
- Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
- College Teaching
- Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.
He was the 2011 Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education’s (POD Network) conference co-chair and served on the core faculty of the POD-sponsored New Faculty Developers Institute from 2009-15. He is a former member of the POD Network’s board of directors (2013-16), and former chair of the Membership Committee (2013-16) and Robert J. Menges Award subcommittee (2016-18). With colleagues Dorothe Bach and Adriana Streifer, he won the 2014 POD Network Innovation Award for work on a valid & reliable syllabus rubric; with Lindsay Wheeler and Itiya Aneece the 2015 Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development for work on student perceptions of syllabi; with Adarsh Char, Lauren Kane-Sample, Chip Evans, William Hall the 2016 POD Network Innovation Award for work on c3Design. He is currently co-editor of To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development.
Michael’s pedagogical interests include course design, active learning, student motivation, and creative thinking. He has taught a wide range of courses from chemistry lecture and lab courses and applied calculus courses to a suite of 1st- and 2nd-year seminars on the science of learning, pedagogy, "living your best college life," and infinity. In 2012, he won one of UVA’s All-University Teaching Awards.