Nancy Michael Rev. John A. Zahm, C.S.C. Associate Teaching Professor

Neuroscience and Behavior
Nancy Michael

Research Interests:

Since December of 2014, Dr. Nancy Michael has served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Neuroscience and Behavior major at the University of Notre Dame. In her few years as faculty, Dr. Michael’s dedication to excellence, innovation in education and commitment to community wellness have earned her numerous teaching, advising and community awards. In partnership with multiple community organizations, Dr. Michael works to develop and implement NEAR (neuroscience, epigenetics, adverse childhood experiences, resilience) science approaches that aim to mitigate the impact of toxic stress on individuals and communities.  Her research uses a community-based change theory model to work with community organizations in developing population specific NEAR-based strategies to support organizational and community efforts in becoming trauma-informed.



  • Rev. John A. Zahm, C.S.C. Associate Teaching Professor - Present
  • Assistant Teaching Professor 2014-2020
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior 2014-Present
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Michigan State University 2012-2014
  • Neuropsychology Research Assistant, University of Michigan 2007-2008
  • Molecular Imaging Sales Executive/Technical Representative, Eastman Kodak Corporation 2005-2007
  • Molecular Biology Lab Manager/Research Assistant, Wayne State University Medical School 2004-2005
  • Pharmacogenetics Assistant Lab Technician, VanAndel Institute 2001-2003
  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN 2008-2012
  • B.S., Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, MI 1997-2001


Recent Papers:

  • Michael NA. Changing… one synapse at a time. In Brantmeier and McKenna (Eds) Pedagogy of Vulnerability. Information Age Publishing. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Copywrite March, 2020.
  • De Lorme KC, Staffend-Michael NA, Cooper SE, Robison AJ, Sisk CL. Pubertal testosterone programs adult behavioral adaptations to sexual experience through infralimbic cortex ∆FosB. eNeuro 28 May 2019.
  • Wilson B, Michael NA. Unlearning is the New Learning: A Neuroscientific and Theological Case for How and Why to See The World Differently. Church Life. August, 23, 2018.
  • Michael NA, Libarkin J. Understanding by Backwards Design: Practical Implementation of Backwards Design Methodology.  Bioscene. 2016 Dec; 42(2):44-52
  • Staffend NA, Mohr MA, DonCarlos LL, Sisk CL. A decrease in the addition of new cells in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex between puberty and adulthood in male rats. Dev Neurobiol. 2014 Jun;74(6):633-42
  • Staffend NA, Hedges VL, Chemel BR, Watts VJ, Meisel RL. Cell-type specific increases in female hamster nucleus accumbens spine density following female sexual experience. Brain Struct Funct. (2014) Nov;219(6):2071-81.
  • Been LE, Staffend NA, Taylor A, Meisel RL. Vesicular glutamate transporter 2 and tyrosine hydorxylase are not co-localized in Syrian hamster nucleus accumbens afferents. Neurosci Lett. (2013) Aug 29; 550:41-5.
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. Aggressive experience increases dendritic spine density within the nucleus accumbens core in female Syrian hamsters. Neuroscience. (2012) Dec 27;227:163-9
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. DiOlistic labeling in fixed brain slices: phenotype, morphology, and dendritic spines. Cur Prot Neurosci. (2011) Apr;Chapter 2:Unit2.13.
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. DiOlistic labeling of neurons in tissue slices: a qualitative and quantitative analysis of methodological variations. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy (2011) 5:1-10.
  • Staffend NA, Loftus CM, Meisel RL. Estradiol reduces dendritic spine density in the ventral striatum of female Syrian hamsters. Brain Structure and Function (2011) 215:187-194. Epub 2010 Oct 16.
  • Hedges VL, Staffend NA, Meisel RL. Neural mechanisms of reproduction in females as a predisposing factor for drug addiction. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology (2010) 31:217–231. Epub 2010 Feb 19. Review.