Michelle Harris

Position title: Biocore Program

Email: maharris@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-7363

307 Noland Hall, 250 North Mills Street

B.S. – U. of Illinois-Urbana, Teaching of Biology
M.S. – UW-Madison, Zoology
Ph.D. – UW-Madison, Zoology



I’m privileged to teach Biocore students in my role as co-chair of Biocore 384 (Cell Biology lab) and chair of Biocore 485/486 (Organismal Biology lecture and lab, respectively). I am the advisor for the Biocore Outreach Ambassador Program, begun in 2004 by Biocore students interested in working with K12 teachers and students in rural schools to enhance science education. I supervise and mentor graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, teaching post-docs, and undergraduate researchers.

I earned my PhD from the UW-Madison Zoology Department in 1999, focusing on vertebrate functional morphology. I investigated the morphological and physiological determinants of maximal leaping performance in domestic cats. Specifically, I found that hind limb length and body fat composition significantly influence cat leaping performance. I view the world through a lens that seeks connections between form and function, and this viewpoint significantly influences my teaching and education research, transcending biological phyla, size scales, and scientific disciplines.

My current research focus stems from my curiosity about how the student-centered, process of science approach we use in Biocore affects student learning. I’ve worked with many talented colleagues, post-docs, and graduate students on various biology education research projects implemented in Biocore lecture and lab settings. Many of these projects have resulted in instructional materials and approaches that have been permanently inserted into our Biocore courses. (You can view publications summarizing many of these projects.)