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Faculty and Staff

Dr. Michael Smith

Dr. Michael Smith
- Interim Director, Mahurin Honors College; Professor, Biology

My Role in the Mahurin Honors College

The purpose of the Mahurin Honors College is to provide our students with an academically rigorous environment that actively engages them outside as well as inside the classroom.  Such engagement can come through activities like service learning, study abroad, involvement in student government or other associations, and individual research projects. WKU started the first Honors College in the Commonwealth, which has attracted thousands of gifted students to our beautiful campus.  My job is to help the wonderful staff of the Mahurin Honors College have the resources and support they need to assist these students in becoming mindful and successful learners and citizens.


Educational Background

I earned B.S. (Honors) and M.S. degrees in zoology from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of Texas at Austin. Afterwards, I worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maryland-College Park.

What Brought Me to WKU and the MHC

I was attracted to the faculty position in the Biology Department of WKU because I felt that I could find a good balance between teaching, research, and service here (and I think that I have).  I was asked to be the Acting Executive Director of the Mahurin Honors College this year while the Director, Dr. Craig T. Cobane, participates in an American Council on Education Fellowship.  Since I graduated from a great Honors Program myself, and since I have been doing research with wonderful Honors students in my lab for the last 13 years, I jumped at the opportunity.

A Little About Myself

I am married to a wonderful woman, Taralie, who puts up with me (for 25 years now) and have four amazing children (ranging from 22 to 12 years old) that keep me plenty busy.  I was born on Abraham Lincoln’s and Charles Darwin’s birthdays (Feb. 12) – both were great men in their own right; I still have a long way to go.

I enjoy walking my beagle Leo, playing racquetball, fishing, hiking, and kayaking.

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Academic Interests

I am a neurobiologist with a primary focus on the auditory system of fishes. I use fish as a model to understand the process of damaging, protecting, and regenerating the specialized cells of the ear that allow for hearing, called sensory hair cells.  I also enjoy studying bioacoustics (how animals use sounds and vibrations for communication).  I love working with students in my laboratory on projects ranging from cancer to chameleons.

Selected Recent Publications (*student authors)

Monroe, J.D., Millay, M.H.*, Patty, B.G.*, Smith, M.E.  2018. The curcuminoid, EF-24, reduces cisplatin-mediated reactive oxygen species in zebrafish inner ear auditory and vestibular tissues. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 57:152-156.

Kholikov, K.*, Ilhom, S.*, Sajjad, M., Smith, M.E., Monroe, J.D., San, O., Er. A.O. 2018.  Improved singlet oxygen generation and antimicrobial activity of sulfur-doped graphene quantum dots coupled with methylene blue for photodynamic therapy applications. Photodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy 24:7-14.

Monroe, J.D., Hruska, H.L.*, Ruggles, H.K.*, Williams, K.M., Smith, M.E.  2018.  Anti-cancer characterisitics and ototoxicity of platinum(II) amine complexes with only one leaving ligand. PLoS ONE 13(3):e0192505. https://doi.org/10.137/journal.pone.0192505.

Smith, M.E., Weller, K.K.*, Kynard, B., Sato, Y., Godinho, A.L.  2018. Mating calls of three prochilodontid fish species from Brazil. Environmental Biology of Fishes 101:327-333. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-017-0701-3.

Monroe, J.D., Manning, D.*, Uribe, P.*, Bhandiwad, A.*, Sisneros, J.A., Smith, M.E., Coffin, A.  2016. Hearing sensitivity differs between zebrafish lines used in auditory research. Hearing Research 341:220-231.

Monroe, J.D., Rajadinakaran, G.*, and Smith, M.E. 2015. Sensory hair cell death and regeneration in fishes.  Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 9:131.

Smith, M.E.  2015. The relationship between hair cell loss and hearing loss in fishes. Pp. 1079-1086. In: The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II. Popper, A.N. and Hawkins, A. (Eds.). Springer-Verlag.

Casper, B.M., Smith, M.E., Halvorsen, M.B., Sun, H., Carlson, T.J., and Popper, A.N.  2013.  Effect of exposure to pile driving sounds on fish inner ear tissues. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A 166:352-360.

Smith, M.E. and Rajadinakaran, G.  2013.  The transcriptomics to proteomics of hair cell regeneration: Looking for a hair cell in a haystack.  Microarrays 2 (3):186-207; doi:10.3390/microarrays2030186.

Uribe, P.M.*, Sun, H., Wang, K., Asuncion, J.D., Wang, Q., Steyger, P.S., Smith, M.E., and Matsui, J.I. 2013. Aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death of inner ear organs causes functional deficits in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). PLoS ONE 8(3): e58755. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058755.

Sun, H., Lin, C-H.*, and Smith, M.E. 2011. Growth hormone promotes hair cell regeneration in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) inner ear following acoustic trauma. PLoS ONE 6 (11): e28372. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028372.

Schuck, J.B.*, Sun, H., Penberthy, W.T., Cooper, N.G.F., Li, X., and Smith, M.E. 2011. Transcriptomic analysis of the zebrafish inner ear points to growth hormone mediated regeneration following acoustic trauma. BMC Neuroscience 12: 88, Doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-88.

Smith, M.E., Schuck, J.B.*, Gilley, R.R.*, and Rogers, B.D.* 2011. Structural and functional effects of acoustic exposure in goldfish: evidence for tonotopy in the teleost saccule. BMC Neuroscience 12:19, Doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-19.

Schuck, J.B.* and Smith, M.E. 2009. Cell proliferation follows acoustically-induced hair cell bundle loss in the zebrafish saccule. Hearing Research 253:67-76.

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 Last Modified 10/11/18