Nancy Michael 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.



  • 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.


  • Kaneb Center for Teaching Excellence: Faculty Fellow, 2020-21 academic year. Each year, exemplary teachers are selected to share strategies, insights, and techniques that have made them award-winning teachers. They share their experiences through Kaneb Center workshops, discussion groups, research, and individual consultations.
  • Dockweiler Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, 2020 Established in 2007 through a gift from the Julia Stearns Dockweiler Charitable Foundation, the Dockweiler Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising annually recognizes members of the full-time faculty or exempt staff who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to Notre Dame undergraduates through outstanding mentoring, academic advising and/or career counseling.
  • Michiana Forty Under 40. South Bend Chamber of Commerce, 2018 class.  Award given annually to 40 of the Michiana region's most talented and dedicated young executives, professionals and leaders who demonstrate career success and community engagement.
  • Frank O'Malley Undergraduate Teaching Award. April 2018. Given to an outstanding member of the Notre Dame Faculty each year. This is a student-nominated award based upon outstanding service to the students of the Notre Dame Community.
  • Arthur Quigley, PhD Award. March 2017. Awarded to the Robinson Community Learning Center to a Notre Dame Faculty or Staff whose service and education in the Northeast Neighborhood exemplifies the mission of the University to exercise “…leadership in building a society that is at once more human and more divine.”