Michael Middlebrooks

Invertebrate zoologist
Michael Middlebrooks is an invertebrate zoologist and an advocate for the tiny wonders of the animal kingdom.

Why you should listen

Michael Middlebrooks, PhD, is an avid scuba diver and passionate about underwater exploration. His enthusiasm for sharing the world of micro-fauna is evident in his talks about the small but spectacular snails, shrimp and sea slugs that make up just a fraction of the underwater animal kingdom. He is an associate professor of biology at the University of Tampa where he teaches hands-on courses in invertebrate zoology, global sustainability and coral reefs. His classes feature photographs of marine invertebrates that he's taken during his adventures in underwater exploration around the world.

In Middlebrooks' academic research, he uncovers the intricate relationships that colorful "lettuce" sea slugs have with the food they eat. Specifically, he focuses on the behaviors of photosynthetic or "solar-powered" sea slugs which can steal chloroplasts from the algae they eat and store them inside of their own cells to make energy. He also conducts research on seagrass restoration and examines the animal communities that live in, and depend on, seagrass beds.

Michael Middlebrooks’ TED talk