Dr. Cross Faculty Spotlight Q&ADr. Michael Cross is a permanent faculty member in the Honors College and enjoys teaching courses such as Get Innovative: Habits of Mind that Foster Creativity, Interdisciplinary Research in Science, and Change-Making and Wicked Problems. He researches a wide range of topics including biomedical engineering to behavioral economics, and anthropology to astrobiology. Check out the question-and-answer below to learn more about Dr. Cross.
1) What is your educational/research background?
I've been most interested in translating scientific advances into forms broadly accessible to the global community. Thus, my background is a diverse set of educational experiences including a B.S. in computer science and a Ph.D. in applied physics. Similarly, my research is highly interdisciplinary: from immunobiophysics where I sought methods to visualize live cells real-time in 3D, to cellular biomechanics where I applied nano- to pico-newton forces to better understand the interactions of cells with biomaterials.
2) What is your favorite area of study/research?
"To know how to criticize is good, to know how to create is better."
Between ten years in the corporate world, six years in a research lab, and five years in the classroom, a common thread of my life emerges: problem solving involving complex systems of people and things. Given this, I regularly cover a broad range of literature, from biomedical engineering to behavioral economics, and anthropology to astrobiology. If I were to land on a discipline under which this falls, it might be design thinking.
3) How many years have you been working in the Honors College?
Since 2014, I've taught a variety of courses in the Honors College. I've been a permanent faculty member in the Honors College since Fall 2016.
4) What are all of the classes you teach in the Honors College?
IDH 3350 – Interdisciplinary Research in Science
IDH 3400 – Get Innovative: Habits of Mind that Foster Creativity
IDH 3350 – Change-Making and Wicked Problems
5) What is your favorite class that you teach at the Honors College?
Imagine having the opportunity to meet with the inventor of low-loss optical fiber (the backbone of the internet) – Donald Keck. Imagine getting to personally interact with the scientist who coined the term, "evidence-based medicine" – David Eddy. This is my reality–alongside two outstanding faculty, Drs. Sarah Kiefer and Kim Macuare, we engage students in developing their creative capacities in the course, Get Innovative: Habits of Mind that Foster Creativity.
6) What is one lesson you want all of your students to take away from studying your
Prioritize your focus on process over product. Both are important. Both are necessary. Personal development, however, is driven by process. The process of learning, the process of growing, and the process of meaning-making.
7) What do you like about being a faculty member in the Honors College?
Meeting with students to talk about life, goals, and the future is, to me, the most fulfilling experience I can imagine. Every day, I win the lottery because I get to sit down with the future. I'm constantly fascinated when students express their apologies for "taking time out of my busy schedule." I am here because of you. It's nearly impossible for me to imagine being in higher education without this opportunity to directly interact with students.
8) What activities do you like to do for fun when you're not teaching in the Honors
Whatever Harrison, my 2-year-old, tells me we should do for fun.
9) Are there any other insights about you that you would like to add?
I like my puns like my coffee, a daily grind, and not weekly flavored.