Michael received his bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology in May 2015 from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There he participated in a wide variety of research and experiences from productivity of phytoplankton in the surf zone to functional morphology of blubber Cetaceans. However he decided that his main interest was with coral reef sessile organism (his favorite being sponges!) so most of his time was spent studying the chemical ecology of sponges, from which he completed an honors thesis examining palatable sponges use of associational refugia in the presence and absence of predators. Michael also received an NSF-REU internship at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science where he studied coral physiology under changing environmental conditions. He came to KAUST in May 2015 as an intern, after which he decided to return as a Master's student in 2016. During his internship he helped examine the microbial community of sponges in a small geographical range in the Red Sea as well as the biodiversity of benthic sessile organisms. Now as a Masters student he wishes to continue to study sponge ecology on reefs and also start looking into taxonomy of Red Sea sponges.
Michael's broad research interests are the ecology and physiology of sessile coral reef invertebrates (sponges and coral), how climate change is affecting them, and more recently in taxonomy.