Michael A. Steele, PhD

Michael A. Steele is professor of biology and H. Fenner Chair of Research Biology at Wilkes University. Steele is one the world’s foremost authorities on oak seed dispersal and the tree squirrels that play a significant role in the dispersal process. His research interests include evolutionary ecology; behavioral, population and community ecology of vertebrates; plant-herbivore interactions, foraging behavior, seed predation and seed dispersal.

In 2016 the National Science Foundation awarded Steele an OPUS Award to complete a book synthesizing his oak seed dispersal research. Instituted in 2013, the awards have traditionally been given to researchers at larger, research-focused institutions.

Also in 2016, he received the first Wilkes University President’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He is also the recipient of a 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Recovery Team Champion Award in 2013, a Bullard Fellowship at Harvard University in 2012-13, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Mexico in 1997-98.

Over his career he has mentored more than 180 undergraduate students in research, with the majority of these students pursuing medical school or other health science programs. More than 10 have pursued doctoral degrees, and three have been awarded NSF graduate research fellowships.

Steele joined the Wilkes faculty in 1989, becoming a full professor in 2003 and serving as department chair from 2005 to 2018. He is also a research associate at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, Pa., and an adjunct associate research professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. He earned his doctorate in biology from Wake Forest University and his bachelor’s in biology at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.