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Michael Cross Ph.D.

Faces of NECC Michael Cross Ph.D.

Professor Cross wanted to be a scientist since kindergarten now he brings that youthful wonderment and enthusiasm into the classroom, constantly exploring new ways to teach age-old information.

One example of his creative teaching style is his use of dominoes to explain dimensional analysis, a problem solving tool used in chemistry.

He retrofitted dominoes with chemistry symbols. Students use the symbols to set up a problem and then flip the dominoes in order to see the conversion factors and calculate the answer. “It’s fun, easy and it really works,” he says.

The son of a physicist/engineer, Professor Cross wanted to imitate his dad.

A self described “lab geek,” he thought he might pursue pharmacy or a lab science. He never stepped foot in front of a classroom until the last year of his Ph.D. when he had the opportunity to teach for six weeks. It resulted in an instant career change.

“I found I loved teaching. Interestingly enough, one of my earliest memories is of chalk dust from my Dad’s classroom when he was in graduate school,” he says.

Professor Cross and his young family headed east following his graduation from the University of Utah.

Professor Cross has no regrets about trading the laboratory in for the classroom. “My favorite part of teaching is seeing the students getting excited about science,” he says.

He still gets to indulge his research side by serving as adviser to students in NECC Honors Experience.

“I get to see research on topics I am curious about,” he says.