Michael R. Canfield
I am a teacher, administrator, and academic at Harvard University. I serve as a Lecturer on Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and the Allston Burr Assistant Dean of Harvard College in Eliot House.
My courses focus on both biological topics such as the “Biology of Insects” and “Camouflage and Mimicry in Nature,” as well as natural history and the humanities in “The Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt.” I enjoy teaching across a range of topics and levels.
In my writing and academic work I have most recently completed a book on Theodore Roosevelt and his outdoor life, entitled Theodore Roosevelt in the Field. My Roosevelt interest grew from an edited project called Field Notes on Science and Nature, which examines how scientists and naturalists record their work in the field. In addition, my insect research has investigated the evolution of flexible developmental pathways in geometrid caterpillars, or, to put it simply, how the camouflage forms of caterpillars can be determined by what they eat. Recently, I have developed an interest in ants in the genus Temnothorax. The entire colonies of these ants live in small spaces, often a single acorn shell, which raises fascinating questions about nest site selection and resource use. I earned my Ph.D. under Naomi E. Pierce in 2006 here at Harvard.
In addition to my research and teaching, I continue to be active in my role as dean at Eliot House. I work both individually with students doing advising, and on College and University committees designed to advance administrative objectives that help create a fair, equitable, and inspiring environment for learning.
Outside of my professional pursuits, I enjoy woodworking, terrarium keeping, coaching hockey, as well as participating in football scrimmages with my two sons in the small yard next to our residence.