The Executive Director of the Teaching Center, Dr. Michael E. Wysession, has been a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis for 28 years. Michael earned his Sc.B. from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University, both in geophysics. As Executive Director, Michael provides a liaison between the Teaching Center and the various schools, departments, programs, institutes, and centers on campus. Michael works with the directors of Academic Services and Classroom Services to develop the vision and to implement and promote the mission of the Teaching Center in its service to the full university.
Michael’s 35 years of teaching experience began as a high school math and physics teacher in New York City, and he has remained engaged with K-12 pedagogy through coauthoring more than 30 textbook volumes, serving as Chair of Earth and Space Sciences for both the National Academy of Science’s Framework for K-12 Science Education and for the writing of the new national K-12 Next Generation Science Standards, and by regularly running workshops around the country to train K-12 science teachers.
Michael is internationally known for his efforts in increasing science literacy, as Chair of the National Science Foundation’s Earth Science Literacy Initiative, author of four video lecture courses with the Teaching Company’s Great Courses series (How the Earth Works, The World’s Greatest Geologic Wonders, National Geographic’s Polar Explorations, and The Science of Energy), and presenter of more than 300 public lectures on geologic hazards, natural resources, and human impacts on the geosphere and biosphere.
An established leader in seismology, Michael has made major research contributions in visualizing seismic wave propagation and mapping the structure of Earth’s deep mantle, and his more than 100 published papers also include the structure of the U.S. Mid-Continent Rift, the tectonics and structure of African plates, intraplate earthquakes, and using seismic waves to identify military explosions.
Michael’s research, teaching, and science literacy work have been recognized through a Packard Foundation Fellowship, an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship, the Innovation Award of the St. Louis Science Academy, a Distinguished Faculty Award from Washington University, the Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union, of which he is a Fellow, and the Frank Press Award from the Seismological Society of America.